Derek Jeter has announced that he will also be embarking upon the good ship Retirement at the end of the 2014 season. The announcement comes with little surprise, as injuries and skill deterioration have crept into his life in varying parts over the last three seasons.
Jeter is one of the most iconic Yankees of all time, a first ballot Hall of Famer, and one of the very best players of our generation. Seeing his career come to a close is a little sad, but what a ride it has been having him on the team that we all root for.
Jeter will finish his career ranked near the top of many shortstop lists; he is 6th all-time in Wins Above Replacement and 9th in weighted Runs Created-plus (wRC+), an league-adjusted aggregate of his offensive skills.
It'll take just three hits to tie Paul Molitor, and a fourth to pass him. Easy enough, even if Jeter has a final season to forget. Passing Yaz and Wagner will be more difficult, but if Jeter is healthy, he'll get those hits.
Health is the critical issue, as Jeter missed all but 17 games last season after chronic injury problems. He already ranks 10th all-time.
Whatever one thinks of Jeter as a defender, he has unquestionably put up a Hall of Fame-worthy career. That inevitability was likely sealed when he notched his 3,000th hit, but is also supported by the numbers. Jeter has racked up a total of 71.6 rWAR and 73.8 fWAR to date, which places him at 58th and 45th, respectively, on the all-time list of position players.
Those metrics, considering the good amount of hardware that Jeter has accrued over his two decades-long career, the high profile nature of playing in New York, and the deep-rooted belief in his intangibles, will assuredly make Jeter a Hall member when he becomes eligible.
During his peak (arguably 1998 to 2006), Jeter was 10th in WAR, and 38th in wRC+ but 1st in hits and singles and 27th in walks. He played during the so-called Juiced Era, and has never been linked to or considered to have used performance-enhancing drugs, a consideration that will serve (justifiably, perhaps) to inflate his offensive perception while tearing down several of the members that rank ahead of him in some of these categories. And though he has never stood out as a great offensive player, he has, in his way, crafted one of the better careers in the history of baseball, marked with an integrity and professionalism that should not go unnoticed, and will never be forgotten.