Friday, June 1, 2012

The "Hitman" In Pursuit of the "Iron Man"

In the history of baseball, players with a prevalent fondness measure only a handful. There have been many great players, but only a few are standouts and are universally respected. Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken are two of these mainstay players with well-know reverence.

Jeter didn't get to this level without a healthy dose of resilience - especially, after his well-documented struggles in 2010 and 2011.  There was no shortage of conversation: Was he now a shell of a great player, who's becoming prone to injury and losing power? Was the latter part of 2010 and the first half of the 2011 season, a large enough sample to suggest jeter was done playing at an exceptional level?  Well, like all legendary players, he deserved the benefit of the doubt.  According to Elias, since returning from the DL on 7/14/11, Jeter has hit .333 with 73Rs, 25 doubles, 9HRs and 59RBIs in 118 games. Which, include a superb .420BA with 7HRs off left-handed pitching over the span.  He has hit safely in 41 of 49 games and leads the AL in hits with 71, ranks 4th in the AL with a .336 batting average, and owns the AL's highest average (.464) vs left-handed pitchers.  Put simply: Vintage.

Distant memories are the struggles as the captain continues to ascend the all-time MLB hit list.  He currently sits at number 14 on the list with 3,159 hits - 25 hits behind Cal Ripken, jr.  Back on 4/26, I tweeted the following:

At the time Jeter was bruising the baseball with a BA north of .380, and no one would have doubted my agressive forecast - I was close.  However, he's back to his human form batting .336 and averaging 1.45 hits per game.  So, with three days left to meet my projection, Jeter would have to drink rocket fuel to get 25 hits.  He's more aptly to pass his childhood idol at home vs the Atlanta Braves during a three game series in June (6/18 - 6/20).  

Soon Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter will share some great baseball history. First, on 9/11/09, Jeter collected his 2,722nd hit, moving him ahead of the "Iron Horse" to become the Yankees's all-time hits leader.  A tremendous feat, considering "Gehrig's record stood untouched for seven decades."  And, now Jeter is on the verge of passing Cal Ripken (3,184) as he climbs the latter to gain sole possession of 13th place on the all-time hit list.  Legendary: The modern day "Hitman" tops the "Iron Horse," and now in pursuit of the "The Iron Man."

Similar to Gehrig and Jeter (so far), Cal Ripken played his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles, and is considered one of the best players to ever play the game.  "Ripken was a departure from the prototypical shortstop of the time," and is ascribed with redefining the shortstop position - while transcending it. He's symbolized as baseball's all-time "Iron Man" for surpassing Lou Gehrig's record of consecutive games played (2,130), "deemed unbreakable by many."  His playing career - akin to Gehrig and Jeter - has earned him plenty of on-field accolades.  Chiefly, one of the game's greatest records of all time: Playing in more consecutive games (2,632) than any other player in history.  A genuine testament to his endurance, which bridged seventeen seasons, from May 30, 1982, to September 20, 1998.  

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Geo Ginrosge