Thursday, July 14, 2011

Which Milestone Is The Most Impressive: 3,000 Hits, 500 Homers or 300 Wins? Part I.

Having a couple of days without Yankee baseball, I began to wonder about the different milestones in baseball and how impressive they are. Now that Derek Jeter has gathered his place in the exclusive 3,000 hit club, it’s a perfect time to entertain the thought of which milestone is the most impressive – 3,000 hits, 500 homers or 300 wins. This topic has been debated many times and that’s why it’s so appealing to the baseball enthusiast.  The game of baseball is one of the few in sports to stimulate the competitive spirit in fans. Ever since I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, the general conversation about baseball would center around who was the best player and why.  Surely, there has been a shift over the years in opinion about which is the more remarkable milestone.  Particularly, how the steroid era has undermined the perception of these accomplishments.  My sentiments do not reside with all the negativity in baseball; instead I’m mostly motivated about all that’s pure in the game. 

Throughout the rich history of Major League Baseball, several thousand players have crossed the white lines. There are 162 position players (not including pitchers) in the hall of fame, but only 28 have reached the historic plateau.  I’m giving Jeter his due props; he has been a model of consistency.  Jeter will be compared not only with the Yankee greats, but also the members of 3,000 hit club. Jeter has had ten seasons with 190 or more hits in his career and 179 in his first down year of 2010.  Since 1900 and through 2010, 200 hits in a single season has been accomplished 478 times. Jeter has eclipsed that mark seven times in his career (tied with Wade Boggs), trailing only Pete Rose (10), Ty Cobb (9) and Paul Waner (8).  He became the 14th player with 3,000 hits for one franchise. 

Position players will probably consider three thousand hits the most impressive. Getting 200 hits a season is considered a strong offensive year. Especially, over a 162 game marathon schedule, which could be taxing both mentally and physically, and remaining healthy and consistent over the course of 17 plus years should be viewed as a great achievement.  Base hits are individually executed and not team assisted, so a player has to consistently maintain a high level of performance for a period of 15-20 years.  23 out of the 28 members (pending Jeter) have played 20 or more years. This is a testament to their commitment, dedication and durability at being an elite player on a long-term basis.  Milestones denote excellence combined with longevity. 

The baseball hall of fame is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, and achieving  the three thousand hit benchmark ensures Jeter a place in Cooperstown. Since 1962 all eligible members, with the exception of Palmeiro (peds), Rose (gambling) and Biggio (not yet eligible) have been elected on the first ballot.

Jeter has a chance to be the second player since Eddie Murray (Indians 1995) who have collected 3,000 hits and reached the World Series.  In 38 World Series games, Jeter has batted .321 with 50 hits and 32 runs scored.

Active players with at least 2500 hits:

Others with a chance:

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Geo Ginrosge