Last year, when he was mired in the midst of a dismal first half, Derek Jeter looked like a player who had seen his best days. But a rejuvenated Jeter came out of a stint on the disabled list and began to pile up the base hits, so that now New York Yankee fans such as I may look forward to see who he will be passing soon on the all-time hits list.
Jeter has his sights set on a number of Hall of Famers, all of whom he should drop one place on this list as he continues a superb 2012 campaign.
1. Paul Waner
Waner played the majority of his career for the Pittsburgh Pirates, accumulating 3,152 base hits. Eight different seasons saw Waner exceed 200 hits, as he compiled a lifetime batting average of .333. Paul hit over .360 five times, and he finished his career during the war years with the Yankees.
2. George Brett
A lifetime .305 batter, Brett won batting titles in three different decades with the Kansas City Royals. He had 3,154 base hits, so Jeter could potentially pass both him and Waner on the same day if he has a multi-hit contest. Brett was a pain in the neck for the Yankees over the years, especially in the playoffs, where he belted six home runs against New York in the four American League Championship Series he played them in.
3. Cal Ripken
The ironman shortstop of the Baltimore Orioles would be next up for Jeter in 2012 if he stays healthy, some 30 hits ahead of Brett with 3,184. Ripken's lifetime batting mark is .276, as he eclipsed the .300 plateau just five times. However, he hit for power on a regular basis, bashing 431 homers in his 21 seasons.
4. Nap Lajoie
In a career that went from 1896 through 1916, Lajoie hit over .350 a remarkable 11 times. Jeter would have a ways to go after moving on by Ripken to get to Lajoie, as Nap knocked out 3,242 base hits, about 100 more than Jeter has now. Lajoie toiled for the Cleveland franchise for much of his career, excelling so much on the field that the team was actually called the Cleveland Naps for a time. Lajoie was the league leader in such categories as base hits, doubles, runs batted in, and batting average on many occasions.
5. Eddie Murray
The former Oriole became a nomad later in his career, as he played for five other clubs on his journey to 3,255 hits. If Jeter falls off his current pace, we can still expect him to pass Murray some time this season. This would vault him into the 12th spot on the hits list. Murray rarely led his league in any major offensive categories, but did have the most homers and runs batted in for all American League batters in the strike-shortened 1981 campaign.
I have been a fan of the New York Yankees since the middle of the 1960s.
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