The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Most Hits by a 38 Year Old(or Older) Player in MLB History

Player H Year Age Tm Lg PA AB R 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Paul Molitor 225 1996 39 MIN AL 729 660 99 41 8 9 56 72 .341 .390 .468 .858
Pete Rose 208 1979 38 PHI NL 732 628 90 40 5 4 95 32 .331 .418 .430 .848
Sam Rice 207 1930 40 WSH AL 669 593 121 35 13 1 55 14 .349 .407 .457 .864
Jake Daubert 205 1922 38 CIN NL 701 610 114 15 22 12 56 21 .336 .395 .492 .886
Sam Rice 202 1928 38 WSH AL 681 616 95 32 15 2 49 15 .328 .379 .438 .818
Sam Rice 199 1929 39 WSH AL 689 616 119 39 10 1 55 9 .323 .382 .424 .806
Derek Jeter 191 2012 38 NYY AL 636 590 89 29 0 15 36 76 .324 .367 .449 .816

It’s been a hell of a year for a hell of a player.

--Posted at 8:12 am by SG / 49 Comments | - (0)


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This seems like the thread to discuss what Jeter would have to do to get to 4k hits and to break the record.

He’s at 3279 right now. Figure 4 PA’s per game for 20 more games (they have 22 games left) and using his current BA that’s about 26 hits, so he’s likely to end the season at about 3305.

That 2014 player option looks like it’s going to happen. Let’s give him 200 more hits for each of those season, so 3705. 2014 is his age 40 season.

That’s 295 short of 4000, 484 short of Cobb and and 551 short of Rose.  Seems like he’s going to need 3 seasons after getting 200 hits/year for the next 2 years to catch either Cobb or Rose, and it’ll be a matter of whether he can get 185 hits/year in those years or something more like 160 hits/year.  Since he figures to only be a back up infielder at that point, and probably will be limited to play against LHP, it seems unlikely. Of course, this season seemed unlikely, too. My guess is he gets to 4000 and ends up 3rd all time.

I know he’s been amazing this year, but is it really realistic to expect 200 hits/year going forward?

He can get past 4000 if he becomes a player manager and keeps himself in the lineup long after he’s ceased to be a useful player.

After that, he has to avoid wrecking his legacy by getting caught betting on baseball.

[2] Definitely not. But is someone getting 4000 hits ever realistic? I mean, you have to consider the unrealistic a given to even have the conversation.  You don’t get 4000 hits unless you’re getting 200 hits per year for a long as you are a full time player and you have to be a full time player for 18-20 years.

I don’t think so.  We probably shouldn’t assume that he can hit for this high of an average AND play as much as he’s played this year.  There’s also the question of whether his defense gets to the point where he shouldn’t be on the field at all, which means he’ll need to split some time at DH with A-Rod.

Batting average declines by about 2.7-3% a year for a player as he ages, although trying to figure out how a player will age into his 40s is a real crapshoot.  But we’ll go with that.  Then figure Jeter’s playing time will decrease by about 5% a year.

ZiPS rest of season says Jeter’s a .296 hitter now.  Not sure what CAIRO says since I don’t have it in front of me but it should be about the same, maybe .300 depending on the inter-operability between the Jeter-hating algorithm and the Yankee-loving algorithm.

Going with these assumptions (a .296 average right now which will decline by around 2.7% per year with playing time declining by 5% per year) gives us this through 2014.

2012: 16 more H (per ZiPS)
2013: .288 AVG, 637 AB, 184 H
2014: .280 AVG, 606 AB, 170 H

So add 568 hits to the 3279 he’s at now and you’re at 3847 hits.  Assuming he hit .280 at age 40 and is 153 hits away from 4000 he’s almost certainly coming back.

4000 seems like a realistic possibility, which would be amazing.  But it’s going to require both health and effectiveness, and it’s probably more likely than not that one or both of those will end up leaving him a bit short.

So add 568 hits to the 3279 he’s at now and you’re at 3847 hits.  Assuming he hit .280 at age 40 and is 153 hits away from 4000 he’s almost certainly coming back.

Check the math. 16 + 184 + 170 != 568.  16 + 184 + 170 = 370. So, 3649 total, or 351 short of 4000.

Urgh, added the hits he has already this season twice.

There’s also the question of whether his defense gets to the point where he shouldn’t be on the field at all, which means he’ll need to split some time at DH with A-Rod.

We’ve mused on a position switch to the OF for both Alex and Jeter a number of times. They both have the arm for it, but they both have gaps.

Jeter doesn’t have the power that we’re conditioned to expect from RF, though a high average/low-medium power slap hitter wouldn’t be that out of the ordinary.

Alex isn’t moving as well these days and is probably a better candidate for DH/1B. I suppose you could make the argument that he can still move well enough for the postage stamp right field in DNYS.

Maybe we see a platoon where Alex plays RF at home and Jeter DH’s, while Jeter plays RF and Alex DH’s on the road.

This is 2 years away, of course, unless a 3B drops in your lap and you let Swisher walk, or trade Granderson.

Let’s try this again.

2012: 16 more H (per ZiPS)
2013: .288 AVG, 637 AB, 184 H
2014: .280 AVG, 606 AB, 170 H

So add 370 hits to the 3279 he’s at now and you’re at 3649 hits.  Assuming he hit .280 at age 40 he’s almost certainly coming back, but 4000 seems like a remote possibility.

The Yankees will have a hole in RF next year.  I’ve always thought Jeter could do pretty well out there, especially since there’s not a ton of ground to cover in half the games and he seems to track fly balls well and still runs pretty well.  His arm still seems like it’d be strong enough too.

[10] But then they’d have a hole at SS, no? I wonder if they still view Nunez there, considering they kept him at SS when they sent him down and they are sending him to winter ball.

Yuniesky Betancourt is a free agent this offseason! 

They’d probably be more likely to put Nunez in RF than Jeter.

I wonder if lefty-hitting Stephen Drew would sign cheaply on the hope that a year in a disgraceful bandbox would boost his value after a bad year?  I can’t see Oakland picking up his option.

[0] I’ve been tracking this for about a week as well.  When I started I thought there was an outside chance of catching Rose for #2, but not a chance in hell of catching Molitor.  Over the past 6 games he’s batting .500.  Who knows how long that will last?  But now he has an excellent shot of passing Rose, and a puncher’s chance of catching Molitor.  I think we’ll have an idea by Monday morning…it certainly isn’t *likely* that he’ll keep batting .500 for the next week.  But not impossible either, and doing so (about 10-12 hits) will put Molitor in sight.

I think Jeter making it to 4K hits is quite unlikely.  As noted, he needs to remain healthy AND effective for 4 more years now.  That’s asking quite a bit, even of Jeter who has been known to defy odds.  I *do* like his chances of passing Aaron for #3 on the all time list.  493 more hits to pass him, and I think 400 in the next 2+ years is reasonable.  Not expected (SG has 370) but reasonable.  Even 370 he’s only 123 short, and I think if he’s playing that well he’ll reup for a year or two.  But the extra 228 (after passing Aaron seems unlikely).

[11] Guys, guys, guys.



Cito Culver.

I’ve been pushing Alex for RF for a while.  I think he’s moving fine.  He’s got 11 steals this year which leads the team, and is 2 more than Jeter.  His hip hasn’t really been a problem.  I think he’ll show a lot more range than Swisher, and definitely a much better arm.  The only question is how quickly he can learn the reads and such; I think he could probably afford to play a deeper RF than most, given he’s good at charging the ball.  That should help.

All that said, whether it is moving Jeter or ARod to RF, there are I think 2 issues.  Which position is easier to replace, and egos.  For the 2nd, I think we know which one will be easier to handle.  For the first…they have a SS on hand, and as bad as he’s been, I think it likely he’ll still equal Jeter, with the chance he’d do much better.  However, Adams could probably handle 3rd fine.  CoJo…there are questions about his arm, but some scouts believe it is sufficient.  Bat there is probably plenty.  Or of course my main thing, extend Cano (if deal is reasonable), move him to 3rd, put CoJo at 2nd.

Some other ideas include finding a way to trade for Headley…

[15] I’m certainly not ready to give up on Culver yet.  He does some things very well.  Defense is well regarded, he steals a lot of bases (though he needs to get caught less to be an asset), and he walks a lot.  But he hasn’t shown anything yet to get excited about being a major-leaguer at all, never mind starting SS for the Yankees.  I think he’ll start next year at Charleston; hopefully he can have an OPS above .700 by June and earn a promotion to Tampa.

Aune looks solid so far.  I think he’ll likely start the year in extended ST, and go to SI Yankees.  If he plays well enough there a promotion to Charleston (with Culver likely promoted to Tampa even if he isn’t performing) is likely.  But the earliest I could see Aune being available is what, 2015 (start 2014 in Tampa, Trenton by 2nd half, skip AAA)?  That’s not impossible…kind of Jeterian actually…

Rose’s 95 walks vs 32 strikeouts seems kind of crazy.  It’s not like he’s hitting it out if you threw him a strike (though lots of doubles).  Jeter’s BB:SO is very different from every other dude on that list, which is kind of interesting.

[17] I actually kind of like Culver, although I think he’s probably a high OBP utility guy, but I can still make fun of his terrible hitting skills in low A.

Aune should be interesting.

It sounds crazy to even discuss moving two iconic, late 30’s, career infielders to completely new outfield positions, yet they’re productive and athletic enough to at least make the conversation possible on an intelligent, statistically-inclined Yankees blog. As Mo would say, thank God for that.

[16] I’m sorry but I don’t get any conversation that talk about Rodriguez and/or Jeter moving to the OF. Forget the PR associated with moving one of these guys, especially Jeter. If they’re athletic enough to make the swtich why exactly do they need to move to a defensive position where the offensive standard is higher?

“I think Jeter making it to 4K hits is quite unlikely.  As noted, he needs to remain healthy AND effective for 4 more years now.”

Healthy, perhaps.  Effective, I dunno.  If you look at how Rose got to 4256, it ended up having a lot more to do with longevity than effectiveness.  Through his age-38 season, Mr. Hustle had 3372 hits (which is just 93 more than Jeter has right now, BTW).  From 3372, Rose needed 884 more hits to set his record, but he didn’t get there by continuing to put up 200-hit seasons.  He got there by playing until he was 45.

Here are his hit totals for those final seven(!) seasons:

Age 39:  185
Age 40:  140
Age 41:  172
Age 42:  121
Age 43:  107
Age 44:  107
Age 45:  52

By the same token, it seems (to me, at least) far more reasonable to expect Jeter to hang on and put up a LOT more seasons of 125 hits than for him to flirt with 200 hits every year for just the next three or four seasons.

Of course, this assumes it would be possible for Jeter to keep a roster spot all those years.  Rose didn’t really have that to worry about: he was such an iconic figure in Cincinnati, they were thrilled to bring him back just to have him chase Cobb’s record.  Rose was clearly a bigger deal in Cincy than Jeter was or is to the Yankees, and that’s saying a lot.

Anyway, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Jeter gets to 4000, but not to 4100.

[22] FWIW, Cobb and Rose played the same number of seasons (24). Cobb started at 18, Rose didn’t start until 22. Jeter started at 21 and 2012 is his 18th season.

Rose certainly dragged it out to beat the record, but he was productive at age 44.

I guess my point in bringing this up is.. if you are talking about beating Cobb and/or Rose, you should talk about how much you can do in 24 seasons.  So, the question is, can Jeter play 6 more seasons? And if he can, can he get 160 hits/season? I don’t think it’s out of the question. I don’t know if he wants to, though.

I said a few weeks ago I see Jeter as having and outside chance of passing Aaron, but no real chance of getting to 4,000.

Rose hung on.  His last 5 years he was well below replacement level.  That’s an extra 559 hits he got in those years.  I don’t think Jeter has the option of doing that with the Yankees and I don’t think he would play anywhere else. 

This year from Jeter looks like a great year from a declining player, not an average year from a player who didn’t decline at all.  I know he’s been great for a year and a half now but he still is going to be 39 next year so no matter what talent level you think he is at, he is going to be declining.

[24]  Getting to 4000 would mean about 140 hits/year for 5 years.  Or maybe something like:  185 (age 39) + 170 + 150 + 120 + 75 (age 43).  Those numbers aren’t out of reach.  In fact, that would be very much in line with what Rose did; he had 3990 by the end of his age 42 season. 

As a general proposition, I think athletes are able to be productive longer in their careers now as compared to a generation ago. 

As far as his “decline” goes, I think a lot of what is perceived as an age-related decline in older players is probably attributable to other factors.  If an older player goes into a bad slump, the immediate assumption is that he’s finished.  I don’t see any reason why an older player can’t have a down year and have it be on account of something besides his advanced age.  In Jeter’s case, his resurgence has gone on long enough for me to question how much age really has to do with his performance in recent years.  For all I know, he could in fact have 2-3 more regular DJ years left before we see a significant dropoff.

I think athletes are able to be productive longer in their careers now as compared to a generation ago.

Sure but are the Yankees going to use up a roster spot and payroll $ to afford a declining Jeter the chance to go after 4000 hits? If they are really on a budget, I don’t see how Jeter will accomplish 4K hits on the Yankees.

[21] RF is considered a less demanding position than 3B or - especially - SS.  So there could be something for it being less physically demanding than the positions they currently play.  Now, I don’t know how true that really is, but it’s certainly plausible. 

Plus, OF is certainly a different kind of athleticism.  SS and 3B are more about quickness - reacting and moving very quickly.  RF is less about quickness - though that’s helpful - and more about speed.  So whereas Jeter (especially) doesn’t seem to have a quick first-step (especially to his left), that won’t be as much of an issue in RF where his still-good speed will allow him to run down some balls.

Finally - importantly - SS (especially) and 3B see a lot more plays than RF.  I think as much as twice as many.  So even if Jeter is equally as bad at RF as SS, it will hurt half as much. 

The main reason for me to do this (potential) move is long-term planning and best use of resources.  ARod (for example) still hits plenty well for a corner OF.  Next year we likely have a hole in RF (Swisher leaving).  Potentially, we could move Cano to 3rd (where he may make more sense long term) and put CoJo at 2B (maybe the best position for him and his bat is plenty for 2B).  If the Yankees had a 24 year old RF that had the same offensive upside as CoJo, I’d be happy to use him; perhaps (not likely) that’s Mesa (though he’s well past 24).  Maybe it’s Segedin, but he won’t be ready in April, if ever.  Austin could certainly be it, but 1) he isn’t ready 2) by the time he is ready there could also be a hole in LF.

Sam Rice struck out 9 times in a full season? Granderson struck out 9 times in a game the other day…

I don’t really see him getting to 4k.  He’ll likely clear 3500, which is nifty enough.

.324/.367/.449 at age 38, playing pretty much every day.  Pretty darn cool.

As a general proposition, I think athletes are able to be productive longer in their careers now as compared to a generation ago.

Maybe, but not through their late 30’s early 40’s and how much of a bump late career productivity that we have seen was due to PED?  I certainly don’t want to go down that road with Jeter…

Look, there’s no question Jeter is an all time great player.  And he would have been an above average hitter at ANY position most years in his career.  I don’t doubt that he’ll perform better than most 39-42 year olds.  But a few years ago, it was almost a given that ARod would one day pass Bonds.  I think we discount sometimes just how hard it is - especially later in life - to stay healthy and productive.  And the fact that with how far he still has to go, even one down year - let’s even say he stays productive but loses 60 games to injury - can completely derail this.

Can he get to 4K?  Definitely!  He’s Derek-effing-Jeter!  Will he?  Bet the under.

[30] I think historically a number of great players were still productive at age 38-40.  After that the decline is usually pretty quick.  At least in terms of total value.  Quite simply, they can’t stay on the field enough.  Either because they are hurt, or because they can’t maintain an acceptable level of production if they play regularly.  I personally have little doubt that Jeter will make 3500 hits.  I think I’d bet the over on 3800 even.  But 4000?  No, not likely…

can he win the batting title? only 4 points down! that would be awesone

[33] Definitely!  If he stays hot, and/or Cabrerra/Trout falter, for sure.

I think it would be kind of amazing if he won his only title at 38.  It would be also good and bad if winning the batting title won him the MVP.  He definitely doesn’t deserve it this year - even if he was average defensively he’d still be 3-4 wins behind Trout - but would kind of make up for the 1 or 2 he should have won in the past.  I feel confident Trout will get one eventually…

trout has lost like 20 pts in a month, no?

I refuse to believe he would win MVP even if he wins the batting title. Though it would be funny. I just think it would be really cool if won the batting title. Let the guys on the teams that miss the playoffs (Cabrera and hopefully Trout) fight over the MVP.

Trout should win the MVP easily, IMO.

I do hope Jete sneaks up and grabs the batting title though.  Meaningless, but cool.

[34] If he wins the batting title and the Yankees win the division, I bet the writers vote him in as MVP.

[37] - It wouldn’t shock me but I don’t think it is likely. 

I have gotten my hopes up for a batting title over the last week or so, but it’s still a lot more likely not to happen that it is to happen.

What’s really funny is that Melky is the easy favorite to win in the NL thanks to the Tony Gwynn rule.  1 PA…

[34] “but would kind of make up for the 1 or 2 he should have won in the past.”

When?  In ‘98 he was a bWAR (and 2 fWAR) behind A-Rod, and behind Clemens for that matter.  I guess one could say the Mariners were bad and Clemens was a pitcher.  I’d put him behind Pedro in ‘99, regardless.  He was 6th in fWAR in 2009, if Greinke’s 10 bWAR count.  So maybe one in 1998 if one isn’t looking for the best player but the best player on a playoff team.

1999 and 2006.

I think 2006 he should have won, buy 1999 had to be Pedro.

He was 9th in bWAR in 2006, behind e.g. Mauer, who also led him in fWAR.  Sizemore was a win and a half better than both, though Cleveland had a losing season and Hafner was also very good that year.

37. No way no how Jeter wins MVP this year. Trout’s gonna win it, and he should.

[42] - Well it depends on how much stock you put in defensive stats.  Even still, at the time they weren’t really as available as they are now so most didn’t look at the current versions of fWAR and bWAR.  Same with 1999.  Most used things like VORP in 1999 and WARP3 in 2006 which at the time made the arguments different than looking back on them now…

I have some issues giving pitchers MVP because of the Cy Young.  Maybe if historically it was more like the NFL - Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player, MVP - I would feel different.  But really, MVP *usually* is given to best position player, even if there is a better pitcher.  Also, the fact that they DIDN’T give it to Pedro tells me the voters (by and large) felt the same way.  So 1999 should have been Pedro, but since it wasn’t, I think it should have been Jeter. 

And finally, though I often point to WAR, I’m not going to be a slave to it, especially for MVP votes when the numbers are close.  I mean this year Trout is 2 WAR ahead of everyone else; that’s clear that it *should* be him.  If the numbers are within 1 WAR or so, I figure there is some room for argument; there is some uncertaintity in all the stats, especially defense, and you can give *some* small credit for intangibles.  So, I think 1999 he probably should have won (since they didn’t give to Pedro anyway), and you could make an argument a few other years.

[43] Yes Trout *should* win.  But IDK who is voting.  If Jeter wins a batting title and Yankees make the playoffs - especially if Jeter has a strong September - some voters will look at that.  And compared to maybe Trout and Cabrerra fading down the stretch (in batting average at least) and Anaheim and Detroit missing playoffs…a few people may also look at Jeter doing this at 38, Jeter not having won an MVP in the past, etc…

The point just is that the voters can be an unusual bunch.  If Keith Law (I think he’s NL ROY), Dave Cameron, Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, etc are voting, Trout is the hands down MVP.  If it’s a lot of old-school writers…Jeter may get a lot of votes.

Amusingly, Pedro was 5 fWAR ahead of Jeter in 99, and Trout is 5 fWAR ahead of him this year.

I agree that in 1999 Jeter should have been MVP by old-school standards.

[47] Related, I heard Michael Kay last night say that Jeter was the Yankees’ “undisputed MVP”.

No, Cano is.  By far.

It’s Kay.  What do you expect?

I’d ding Cano for his performance with RISP, but I’m guessing that even if you completely ignore defense Cano comes out as the most valuable Yankee this year. 

Actually, I’ll do a post about it.

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