Countdown to 2020

No longer batting: Number 2, Derek Jeter.

The curtain has fallen on the Yankee Captain’s magical 20-year career. His next stop: Cooperstown in 2020.

While nothing is ever assured when it comes to election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame (after all, it is the responsibility of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to vote on each year’s candidates), who among us would doubt that Jeter is a sure-fire first-ballot choice when he becomes eligible in 2020?

Jeter’s grand finale has spurred a look to the future and speculation of his Hall of Fame election.

Twenty-eight players have reached the 90 percent mark of ballots cast in a Hall of Fame election. Tom Seaver’s 98.84 percent of all ballots cast in 1992 remains the plurality benchmark. Ty Cobb was named on 216 of 220 ballots cast in the inaugural election of 1936, with his four votes representing the fewest number missed in any election. Jeter could eclipse all marks, considering his widespread popularity.

But of more immediate note, his retirement provides a fantastic glimpse back at his legendary career, through more than a dozen artifacts Jeter has generously donated to Cooperstown.

“When you look at the totality of Derek’s career, it is truly remarkable,” said Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. “Not only was he a phenomenal player, but he dignified the game with his class, and helped to grow it with his personal connection to fans who cheered him in all 30 ballparks. His generosity toward the Hall of Fame demonstrates his appreciation for history, while giving every fan a vivid reminder of his magnificent contributions.”

The Captain's Gifts

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Jeter’s ties to the Museum dates back to almost the beginning of his illustrious career. In 1996, the Yankees won their first of five World Championships during Jeter’s career. The home jersey he wore in the ’96 World Series was the first artifact he donated to the Museum, capping his Rookie of the Year award-winning campaign.

As the Yankees success grew with World Series titles in 1998 and 2000, so, too, did Jeter’s generosity with Cooperstown, donating bats from both the ’98 and ’00 Series, as well as the batting helmet from 2000, when he was named World Series Most Valuable Player. The 2000 season was a banner one for Jeter: The bat he used in the All-Star Game that summer in Atlanta when he was also named MVP of that game, also donated to the Hall of Fame.

Since that time, artifacts ranging from his 2006 World Baseball Classic jersey to the cap he wore at this past summer’s All-Star Game in Minneapolis in his final Mid-Summer Classic have been donated to the Hall of Fame.

Artifact when he broke Lou Gehrig’s record for career hits at Yankee Stadium in 2008? You can see the spikes in Cooperstown. Most hits ever for a Yankee at 2,722, surpassing Gehrig? Batting gloves, check.

Jeter’s 3,000th hit is also well-represented at the Hall of Fame, in the form of his batting helmet and batting gloves from that dramatic home run – only the second player ever to collect a home run for his 3,000th hit, joining Wade Boggs – on that sun-kissed July 9th afternoon in 2011.

And from his farewell tour, Jeter donated a glove used during his 2014 season which will join scoresheets from the final games at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park in his big league career.

Jeter and White Sox World Series hero Paul Konerko are scheduled to debut on the 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, along with any other players for whom 2014 was their final big league season.

Speculation will run rampant over the next five years as to Jeter’s Hall of Fame induction and to what reception he will receive on July 26, 2020 in Cooperstown. But for now, the legacy of “Jeet” will live on in Cooperstown, in a trip down memory lane.

Shortstops in Cooperstown

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Of the 211 former big league players enshrined in Cooperstown (another 95 enshrinees are managers, umpires, executives and/or Negro Leaguers), 22 played shortstop – just like Jeter. But the Yankees captain played a different kind of shortstop, combining size and power to help re-define the position along with other trailblazers of the 1990s.

It is another in the long list of legacies Jeter leaves for the National Pastime.

Honus Wagner set the standard for shortstops in Cooperstown as a member of the inaugural Class of 1936 at the Hall of Fame. Still the holder of many offensive records for shortstops, including career batting average (.325) triples (210), the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Wagner combined hitting skill and fielding prowess like few middle infielders before or since.

But following Wagner’s retirement in 1917, most of the game’s top-tier shortstops were small-but-quick-and-agile glove men whose batting skills were considered a bonus.

Between 1946 and 1984, modern-era (post-1900) shortstops like Joe Tinker, Rabbit Maranville, Luke Appling, Dave Bancroft, Joe Sewell, Travis Jackson and Luis Aparicio were elected to the Hall of Fame thanks to quick hands and line-drive bats. Exceptions to the rule like Joe Cronin (elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956), Lou Boudreau (1970) and Ernie Banks (1977) – players whose power bats carried them to Cooperstown – existed but were in the minority.

But beginning with the election of Robin Yount in 1999, the tide began to turn in favor of bigger shortstops who had the ability to drive the ball out of any park. The most recent shortstop inducted into the Hall of Fame, Barry Larkin, became the first shortstop in history to post a 30-home run/30-steal season in 1996 and slugged .444 over the course of his 19-year career with the Reds.

As Larkin’s career wound down, a new era of shortstops – led by Cal Ripken Jr., Nomar Garciaparra, Alex Rodriguez and Jeter – redefined the position with size and range, proving that height ranging from 6-foot-2 and even beyond would play no role in whether a player could handle the infield’s most demanding position.

The 6-foot-3 Jeter, for example, played an incredible 150-or-more games at shortstop in 11 of his 20 big league seasons, never appearing at another defensive position and finishing just 35 games behind 5-foot-9 Omar Vizquel for the top spot among games played at shortstop.

Jeter reached double figures in home runs in 16 seasons and totaled 544 doubles, second among shortstops behind only Ripken among players who played at least 75 percent of their games at shortstop. Using the same 75 percent standard, Jeter ranks third among shortstops in home runs (260, behind Ripken and Miguel Tejada) and second in extra-base hits (870, behind Ripken).

By the time Jeter becomes Hall of Fame-eligible in 2020, Vizquel – owner of 11 Gold Glove Awards and 2,877 hits – may be waiting for him in Cooperstown, having himself become eligible in 2018.

The outstanding careers of both men demonstrate that the shortstop position can be played successfully – even Cooperstown worthily – in many ways.

All-Time Rankings

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All-Time Regular Season Rankings Through His Final Game

  MLB Rank NYY Rank
Games Played (2,747)
26th     
1st
At Bats (11,195)
7th
1st
Plate Appearances (12,602)
10th
1st
Batting Average (.310)
113th
8th
Runs Scored (1,923)
10th

2nd

Hits (3,465)
6th
1st
Total Bases (4,921)
21st
3rd
Doubles (544)
30th
1st
Triples (66)
T-435th
T-13th
Home Runs (260)
T-189th
9th
Runs Batted In (1,311)
T-104th
6th
Bases on Balls (1,082)
85th
4th
Strikeouts (1,840)
T-13th
1st
Stolen Bases (358)
104th
1st
Hit By Pitch (170)
10th
1st
Double Plays Grounded Into (287)
T-13th
1st
 
Defensive Games as Shortstop (2,674)
2nd
1st
Putouts as Shortstop (3,820)  
17th
1st
Assists as Shortstop (6,605)
10th
1st
Errors Committed as Shortstop (254)
99th
4th
Double Plays Turned as Shortstop (1,408)
6th
1st
Fielding Percentage as Shortstop (.976)
30th
1st


Regular Season Highlights

• Named to All-Star Team 14 Times (All-Star Game MVP in 2000)
• 14 Selections are 3rd most in Yankees’ history, 9 starts are tied for 3rd most in Yankees’ history
• 1996 American League Rookie of the Year
• 2000 American League Babe Ruth Award recipient
• 2006 and 2009 American League Hank Aaron Award recipient
• 2009 Roberto Clemente Award recipient
• 2010 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award recipient
• Five-time Gold Glove recipient (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010)
• Five-time Silver Slugger recipient (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012)
• August 1998 American League Player of the Month
• Three-time American League Player of the Week

All Time Postseason Rankings Through His Final Season

  MLB Rank NYY Rank
Games Played (158)
1st   
1st
At Bats (650)
1st
1st
Plate Appearances (734)
1st
1st
Runs Scored (111)
1st
1st
Hits (200)
1st

1st

Total Bases (302)
1st
1st
Doubles (32)
1st
1st
Triples (5)
T-1st
1st
Home Runs (20)
3rd
2nd
Runs Batted In (61)
4th
2nd
Bases on Balls (66)
5th
3rd
Strikeouts (135)
1st
1st
Stolen Bases (18)
6th
1st
Hit By Pitch (5)
T-7th
3rd


Postseason Highlights

• Played in 33 postseason series over 16 seasons
• Reached ALCS 10 times and won seven (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009)
• Reached World Series seven times and won five (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009)
• World Series MVP (2000)

All Information Derived from Baseball-Reference.com and 2014 New York Yankees Official Media Guide & Record Book

Discover More Baseball History

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