Derek Jeter and the 3000-Hit Club

Today with a single and a home run Derek Jeter got his 2999th and 3000th hits, joining a group of just 27 other players to do so. Jeter is the fourth youngest player to reach the mark, having turned 37 on June 26th. Ty Cobb did it as a 34-year old while Hank Aaron and Robin Yount as 36-year olds. Pete Rose got his 3000th hit at age 37 and 21 days, a few days older than Jeter. Inspired by Steve’s HR-pace graph — and this great New York Times career-HR pace graph — I wanted to see how Jeter’s hit pace compares to the other members of the 3000-hit club.

Below is a graph showing hits accumulated by seasonal age. The graph is interactive, so that you can hover over and click on the names at the left to compare the pace of different players. It is a canvas element so it only works in modern browsers (i.e., no IE8 or older). Here is a sample image if it doesn’t work on your browser.

The age is seasonal age not actual age. So in the graph Tris Speaker and Stan Musial get to 3000 hits faster because they did it sooner in their age-37 season even though they were older when it happened. The data come from Retrosheet. Where available it is daily, but for pre-1918 seasons it is just yearly (see Ty Cobb for an example of yearly versus daily data).

Looking at Jeter you can see he got a relatively late start, but then he accumulated hits at a very good clip. By 30 he had more hits than most of the 3000-hit club members did at that age. Since then he hasn’t slowed down as much as most, and he is way ahead of the pack for his age. Given his legend-like status and contract through the 2014 season (with the player option) — even with his talents diminished — he should get a good number more plate appearances before he retires. He should almost surely move into the top ten (by passing Eddie Collins at 3315 hits) and maybe the top five (by passing Tris Speaker at 3514 hits). Until then congratulations to a guy who has already had a great career.

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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.

34 Responses to “Derek Jeter and the 3000-Hit Club”

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  1. Jonas says:

    Why seasonal age?

    If the aim is to see how many hits more he’s likely to accumulate, wouldn’t actual age matter more?

    If the aim is to see the rate that he accumulated the hits, wouldn’t plate appearances or at-bats be a more relevant measure?

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    • Dave Allen says:

      I didn’t want to do actual age because then there would be long strings of no hits during the offseason. Per plate appearance would be interesting, but I wanted to see guys who started young, retired young, kept playing into their 40s, …

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      • willlinn says:

        He bats leadoff.. how does that factor in? How many of these guys lead off?

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      • TonyFranz3 says:

        Also, he played an entire career with a very good offensive team, which was worth probably an extra number of plate appearances each year. How does that factor in? Haven’t run the numbers, but has wonder if because of this is he in some ways a 39-year old in “seasonal age”.

        Not saying this as a Jeter-hater, by the way. Die hard Yankee fan who knows all of the pros and cons of this guy. Just want to place him in context better.

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  2. Mariano Rivera says:

    He also joins Wade Boggs as the only players to get their 3,000th hit on a home run.

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    • dupontd says:

      Speaking of Boggs, Jeter has 427 more AB’s than him after today’s game. But he was…”younger”, which is…impressive?.

      Also, not sure how jeter “started slow”, he got 200 hits 7 times, including his 3rd, 4th and 5th seasons. I guess that is slow compared to Boggs, who got 200 hits his first 7 seasons straight. But this chart doesn’t do a good job of showing the difference in slope b/w those two performances.

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  3. brett says:

    Fantastic graph, Dave. This is really cool.

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  4. Highway 61* says:

    yes, Dave, awesome graph.

    Jeter is currently at .247 WPA…just curious, whats the best 3,000th hit game performance?

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    • Nick says:

      Good question. I assume he would be the first triple, too, if he does on his next AB. Also assume the first 5-5 if that happens.

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      • AA says:

        Molitor got #3000 on a triple.

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      • hank says:

        Yes, he is the first 5 for 5.

        Biggio was the only other member to have 5 hits while getting his 3000th hit, but he was 5 for 6 (and if I remember correctly one of those hits was a marginal official scoring decision)

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    • Justin says:

      I did a little digging on hit #3000, and here is what I found … This is only post-1974.

      Best WPA: Craig Biggio – .388
      Went 5-6 (all singles), 1 RBI, 1 R.
      Game went 11 innings, ended on a walkoff grand slam by Carlos Lee.

      Worst WPA: Dave Winfield – -.134
      Went 2-5 (all singles), 1 RBI, 1 R.
      His WPA is hurt most by grounding out in the bottom of the 10th with the bases loaded to end the inning.
      This game also went extra innings, in which the Royals scored 2 runs in the top of the 13th only to see the Twins put up 3 runs.

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  5. Ryan says:

    Hank Aaron: Master of Counting Statistics

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  6. Blueyays says:

    Fantastic graph. Any chance you could include Ichiro (just to see how his pace stacks up?)

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    • Dave Allen says:

      Yeah I was thinking about making a version with active players who have a shot: Ichiro, ARod, Pujols. I will work on that.

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      • Llewdor says:

        I was just thinking of how much Ichiro’s line would stand out (given that he debuted as a rookie at age 27).

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  7. MikeS says:

    I think the coolest thing about this graph is how similar the slope is for all of these players. I’m not exactly sure what it means except that nobody had an exceptional short career and made it 3000 and I don’t see anybody who hung on for a REALLY extended time to get there very slowly (maybe a future Omar Vizquel?) Just about everybody seems to have averaged a very similar number of hits for a very similar number of years regardless of when they started.

    Anson, Yaz and Molitor’s curves are slightly different, but most guys seem to take a very similar path to 3000.

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    • Pierre says:

      not sure how many different paths are out there. Pretty much gotta get started early and kick butt for 15-20 years

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  8. pft says:

    If it turns out the juiced era was in part due to a livelier ball which inflated BABIP due to increased SOB, then one might argue that 3000 hits is just as tainted as breaking Babes record in HR’s.

    Still, nobody else playing today has more hits than Jeter, so it is an accomplishment (as was Bonds and McGuires HR’s since other hitters were juicing as well, and pitchers, and besides, the ball was juiced, and then the bats -maple, but nobody else hit as many HR’s in a season or career)

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    • Anon says:

      It amazes me how often people mess up McGwire’s name.

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    • MikeD says:

      It wouldn’t be tainted since all the players are playing with the same baseballs.

      Conditions change from generation to generation. The players in the 1960s had to deal with an overly expanded strikezone. The players prior to 1947 were all pre-intergration. Some people suspect that after the 1919 Black Sox scandal that MLB purposely juiced the ball, and did the same again after the 1994 strike. Then we have seasons with expansion, etc.

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    • GMH says:

      The so-called “juiced” era was more a product of lousy pitching than any chemical or enhanced baseball. In that respect, it resembles the late 20s and early 30s.

      Getting to face the likes of Scott Elarton, Jimmy Haynes, Adam Eaton, Jason Bere, Glendon Rusch, Jose Lima, Jason Johnson, Sidney Ponson, etc. year after year will do wonders for a hitter’s production.

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  9. JimNYC says:

    The most fascinating of all of these graphs would be the one for the man with the most career hits for those who never got to 3000 — Sam Rice. Rice woke up on his 28th birthday with 247 hits, and retired with 2987. He has one of the most interesting stories in baseball history — his wife and children were killed in a tornado while he was away playing baseball when he was about 20, and it sent him into a deep depression for many years that kept him from being able to focus on the game enough to stick in the bigs. If that hadn’t happened, he’d very possibly be the all time leader in hits.

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  10. Adam says:

    It would be interesting to see this with games played rather than age, since modern players tend to play more games (longer season, plus expanded playoffs)

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  11. Lyle Schweik says:

    Great graph. Mays and Jeter share close to identical trajectories.

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    • Dave Allen says:

      Jeter and Rose also have nearly identical trajectories. Jeter will almost surely not keep up Rose’s pace, but up to this point they are very similar.

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  12. MikeD says:

    I suspect Jeter may actually finish somewhere in the 3300+ range, but won’t approach 3,500 unless he has a bit of a rebirth over the next year or two. It’s not impossible as some aging players who lose a little bat speed are able to make adjustments to hold of the envitable, but we’re a year-and-a-half into the diminished Jeter, and so far he hasn’t been able to reverse the decline. It’s more likely to get worse than better.

    I fully expect him to continue batting lead-off in 2011, and basically all the models pretty much confirm that it’s not going to make that much of a difference to the Yankees if he’s kept batting lead-off, or he’s dropped to the lower part of the lineup. That said, I can see the Yankees dropping him lower in the order come 2012 (especially against righthanders) and giving him more days off. By 2013 he might only be starting against lefties. I suspect both Jeter and the Yankees will work out a deal for his player option. 2013 will be the last season for Jeter as a MLB player and it’s why I see him finishing somewhere a little north of 3,300 hits. It’s still a hell of a career, but he’s definately entering his athletic twilight years.

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  13. Michael Bourne says:

    Pete Rose needs to go in the hall of fame

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