2/12/2014 7:26 P.M. ET
Jeter's stats are the stuff of legend
By Andrew Simon / MLB.com
When Yankees captain Derek Jeter retires at the end of the 2014 season -- as he announced on Wednesday -- he will take an impressive statistical profile with him.
Although Jeter, 39, has drawn praise over the years for his character, leadership and other impeccable intangibles, his tangible accomplishments are what stand out. In fact, they clearly establish him as one of the most prolific Yankees, and shortstops, of all time.
Jeter's career has been distinguished by his success in both the regular season and postseason, his longevity and consistency with a single team, and his ability to do damage with the bat while playing a highly demanding defensive position.
Jeter can boast 3,316 hits, first among Yankees and active players and second among shortstops, with Honus Wagner's 3,430 clearly within reach. He also is the Yanks' all-time leader in games (2,602), at-bats (10,614) and stolen bases (348); second in doubles (525); third in runs (1,876); fifth in walks (1,047); sixth in RBIs (1,261); seventh in batting average (.312); and ninth in home runs (256).
Among shortstops, Jeter is first in runs, third in homers, fourth in doubles and average, sixth in on-base percentage, seventh in RBIs and eighth in walks. And unlike Jeter, many other elite shortstops moved elsewhere on the diamond later in their career.
More advanced statistics also help shine a light on the rarity of Jeter's offensive accomplishments for someone manning his position. His .828 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) is fifth all-time among shortstops, and he ranks seventh with a 117 OPS+, a statistic that adjusts OPS for ballpark and era. Jeter also stands sixth in wRC+ (weighted runs created plus), another metric that quantifies a player's total offensive contributions and adjusts for context.
Jeter also fares well in WAR (wins above replacement), which measures a player's all-around value against that of a hypothetical bench player or Minor Leaguer. All three major versions of WAR -- from Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs.com and BaseballProspectus.com -- peg Jeter as the sixth-best shortstop in history.
Although Jeter can't match fellow shortstop Cal Ripken's famous streak of consecutive games played, he does stand out for the length and consistency of his career. With 2,538 career starts at shortstop, Jeter ranks third all-time and has a good chance to pass Omar Vizquel (2,609) for the lead. If Jeter is ready to play on Opening Day, it will be his 17th such start, putting him one behind Vizquel and Luis Aparicio.
Aside from a rough 2010, Jeter has produced every season when on the field. Out of his 17 full seasons -- which doesn't include 2013 -- he has 16 in which he put up at least a .290 average, .350 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, 10 stolen bases and a 100 (league average) OPS+.
Not many players can put together so many campaigns at shortstop while swinging the bat at a high level. Jeter's 14 seasons with at least 140 games and a 100 OPS+ are three more than any other shortstop, and his 14 with at least three WAR (per Baseball-Reference.com) trail only Ripken.
And like Ripken, Jeter has done it all with one club. When he plays his first game of 2014, he will become just the 14th position player to spend an entire career of 20-plus seasons with one franchise. Jeter's 16 Opening Day starts since 1996 are two more than any other shortstop, and as a result, the Yankees have needed to use only three Opening Day shortstops during that period, out of 156 across the Majors.
Jeter's tenure in the Bronx also has given him a platform from which to carve a stunning postseason resume, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity. He has started 157 playoff games, nearly 100 more than any shortstop in history, and holds the all-time lead in games, at-bats, hits, runs and doubles, while ranking third in home runs, fourth in RBIs and sixth in stolen bases.
In fact, Jeter has played basically another whole season in October, with 158 games and 734 plate appearances. His postseason performance, not surprisingly, looks an awful lot like any other Jeter season. The man who has put up a regular-season batting line of .312/.381/.446 has nearly replicated it under the bright lights of the postseason, hitting .308/.374/.465.
It's just one more accomplishment to fit on what figures to be a jam-packed Hall of Fame plaque.