Jeter nears impressive team-leaders list
Club record holders include 17 Hall of Famers, hit king
Derek Jeter's pursuit of the Yankees' record for most career hits has prompted expressions of two prevalent emotions:Admiration for him, and amazement that a club with a history as rich as the Yankees has never had anyone reach 3,000 hits -- one of those cherished baseball numbers. Not yet, anyway. That would appear to be the Yankees captain's next destination, at some point during the 2011 season. But for the time being, the New York hits record remains what it has been for 70 years -- the 2,721 logged by Lou Gehrig. Is this an oddity? Or a derivative of the Bombers' heritage -- individual accomplishments such as this having for generations been sacrificed at the altar of winning? Neither. Franchise hit records are lower for 13 of the other 29 Major League clubs. Yes, that includes expansion teams, although some of those have been playing for nearly a half-century. But even among the game's 16 charter teams, the hit record is lower for three (Athletics, Indians, Phillies) and barely higher for another (White Sox).
Team-by-team hit leaders
|Here is a look at the hit leaders for all 30 Major League clubs, through games of Sept. 11, 2009:|
|Red Sox||Carl Yastrzemski*||3,419|
|Orioles||Cal Ripken Jr.*||3,184|
|White Sox||Luke Appling*||2,749|
|Blue Jays||Tony Fernandez||1,583|
|* Member of the Hall of Fame|
Now consider that, historically, 27 players have collected 3,000-plus hits -- yet, while 17 club record holders are Hall of Famers, only 12 of them are at that plateau.This trend places the Yankees in the majority, whatever factors at work. If in the past they have reloaded in pursuit of their annual Holy Grail of a World Series championship, and thereby dealt away players with 3,000-hit destiny, they aren't alone. But that isn't what has transpired, because no one who eventually reached 3,000 hits started out as a Yankee. The Yankees have included three of those 15 players who made the rounds on their way to 3,000 hits, but each was signed as a free agent deep into his career: Dave Winfield came from the Padres with 1,134 hits, Rickey Henderson from the A's with 850 and Wade Boggs from the Red Sox with 2,098. It can be argued that the Yankees' history would already include that 3,000-hit man if not for their Murderers Row reputation, and for one tragic stroke of fate. American League pitchers didn't want to mess with Gehrig, who averaged more walks per season (94) than any of the 3,000-hit men (yes, even more than Henderson). And when benched permanently by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 1939, Gehrig was only 35 -- the same age as is Jeter. Were it not for the same aversion, incidentally, Babe Ruth, too, could have 3,000 hits. He had 2,518 of them with the Yankees, while being walked an average of 123 times each season.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.