New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter holds plenty of club records, but this week it is quite likely he will attain one that he does not particularly relish. Derek Jeter needs to strike out just three more times to tie the Hall of Fame outfielder Mickey Mantle for the most whiffs as a Yankee; four times will give him a record he will assuredly hang onto for a very long time.
It is a testament to Jeter's endurance that he will be the New York leader in strikeouts, as it requires a lengthy stay in the major leagues to achieve such a feat. Looking at the two players, one of the first things you will notice about their strikeout exploits is that it took Mantle "only" 9,907 plate appearances to strike out his 1,710 times, while Jeter, a player with far less power and more intent on just making contact, has been to the plate some 1,675 more times than Mantle, fanning 1,707 times.
Derek has never led the league in strikeouts, with nine campaigns in which he has struck out at least 100 times. His 125 in 1997 are the most he has failed drastically at the dish in any one season. Mantle struck out over 100 times in one year eight separate times as well, but in an era when players typically made better contact as they tried to put the ball in play, Mantle was the American League leader in this category five different times, including three straight seasons beginning in 1958.
However, Mantle's worst season for swinging and missing resulted in 126 strikeouts, just one more measly whiff than Derek's 1997 total. When Mickey retired in 1968, he was easily the all-time leader in this statistic. He currently ranks at 24th, with Yankee hitters of today such as Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones already surpassing his numbers.
Only a handful of players who played when Mantle was in his prime are in the top 50 on the career strikeout roster, including Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. Conversely, Jeter has actually been a teammate to seven guys who managed to land in the top 60 all-time in strikeouts. Big swingers like Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada, Chili Davis and Alfonso Soriano join Rodriguez and Jones as men who have been immortal fanners and who played with Jeter on the Yankees. This week, if Jeter strikes out four times, he will own the Yankee mark but still have 23 batters ahead of him in strikeouts.
I have been a fan of the New York Yankees since the middle of the 1960s.