Making History: Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez

Last season both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez would have to admit that they were pressing to reach personal milestones. More or less guaranteeing Hall of Fame induction reaching 3000 hits for the Captain and 600 homeruns for A-Rod, were marks that put player over team and in both instances, we wanted them to get it and then move on. There was a palpable sense of relief when the numbers were notched.

But in 2012, this tandem of teammates, Jeter and A-Rod, are making history nearly nightly. As Yankee fans we are being treated to a season where one, or both of them, are surpassing some of the greatest names and greatest players in the long and storied history of both Major League baseball and the New York Yankees franchise and we should expect more of the same in 2013.

Since surpassing the vaunted 3K last season in an impressive way – we won’t forget the homer off David Price that was part of Jeter’s five-for-five day – the number of Hall of Famers he has put in his rearview mirror is quite impressive; it reads like a roll call of some of the game’s great hitters. Passing legendary Yankee Dave Winfield got the ball rolling for Derek this season. Since then Jeter has left Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount, Paul Waner and, finally, George Brett behind him.

Before this season is done, the Yankee Captain can be expected to move past Cal Ripken, Nap LaJoie, Eddie Murray and Willie Mays which would place him eleventh all-time. Staying healthy and productive through the 2013 season should potentially vault Jeter to sixth all-time, passing by the likes of Eddie Collins, Paul Molitor, Carl Yastrzemski, Honus Wagner and Cap Anson. The aforementioned Cal Ripken is of the belief that Derek Jeter will reach the rare air of 4000 hits – and potentially challenge the all-time mark set by Pete Rose.

This past week, Alex Rodriguez hit his twenty-third grand slam. What’s significant about that number? Oh, it just tied the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, for the all-time record for long balls with the sacks juiced. One has to suspect that that particular record, long held by a Yankee, will continue that way when A-Rod finally hangs ‘em up.

That homerun, A-Rod’s 639th of his career total, inches him closer to catching Willie Mays at 660 which is good for fourth all-time. Having passed Ken Griffey, Jr. earlier this season for fifth place, Rodriguez may not catch the Say Hey Kid this season, but he really should in 2013. Just for good measure, Alex will get his 3000th hit next season as well.

Both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are students and fans of the game. It’s probably hard to ignore the milestones when they go up on the big scoreboard; you know both players would tell you none of the personal marks mean that much unless the team is winning. But right now, the team is doing that very thing so it gives us a little extra opportunity to enjoy watching history being made in the Bronx. As a fan, I sort of wish that Jeter and A-Rod were as close of friends as they were earlier in their careers and could keep pushing and encouraging each other, but it’s still an amazing part of the 2012 season watching the teammates make and break baseball history.

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2 Responses to Making History: Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez

  1. Bronx_Knight says:

    I wouldn't be so quick to pair Jeter and A-Rod, especially when we are talking about their potential places in the history books. Jeter is sprinting towards the finish line, currently batting .308, just three points under his career average, and a league-leading 111 hits. A-Rod, meanwhile, continues his long-term decline: his OPS has dropped every year since 2008, and is currently under .800 for the first time since 1996.

    Granted, A-Rod in decline is still a pretty good ballplayer, which is tribute to the tremendous heights which he achieved earlier in his career. But how much of his greatness was achieved with the help of the steroids which he had admitted using, and how much of his precipitous decline may be attributed to effects of, or cessation of, steroid use? We've seen what effect confirmed steroid use can have on a player's eligibility for the Hall (e.g., Palmeiro, McGuire). Certainly A-Rod has been greater than either of those players, but it remains to be seen how HOF voters will assess his career.

    By contrast, Jeter, while not as prodigiously talented or productive as A-Rod, has avoided any hint of taint of steroid use, while contributing even more to game of baseball in the "intangible" categories of sportsmanship and leadership.

    Time will tell how these things get sorted out. For now, Jeter is an absolute lock on the HOF and goes down as one of the greatest shortstops of all time. A-Rod's legacy is much less clear.

  2. Bronx_Knight says:

    I wouldn't be so quick to pair Jeter and A-Rod, especially when we are talking about their potential places in the history books. Jeter is sprinting towards the finish line, currently batting .308, just three points under his career average, and a league-leading 111 hits. A-Rod, meanwhile, continues his long-term decline: his OPS has dropped every year since 2008, and is currently under .800 for the first time since 1996.

    Granted, A-Rod in decline is still a pretty good ballplayer, which is tribute to the tremendous heights which he achieved earlier in his career. But how much of his greatness was achieved with the help of the steroids which he had admitted using, and how much of his precipitous decline may be attributed to effects of, or cessation of, steroid use? We've seen what effect confirmed steroid use can have on a player's eligibility for the Hall (e.g., Palmeiro, McGuire). Certainly A-Rod has been greater than either of those players, but it remains to be seen how HOF voters will assess his career.

    By contrast, Jeter, while not as prodigiously talented or productive as A-Rod, has avoided any hint of taint of steroid use, while contributing even more to the game of baseball in the "intangible" categories of sportsmanship and leadership.

    Time will tell how these things get sorted out. For now, Jeter is an absolute lock on the HOF and goes down as one of the greatest shortstops of all time. A-Rod's legacy is much less clear.