News flash: Derek Jeter is a great baseball player.
Sure, his defensive ability is nothing to write home about, but his strength has always been his offense, the ability to consistently get on base and set the table for the All-Star sluggers behind him. His best season at the dish was 1999, when he notched career highs in batting average (.349), homeruns (24), runs batted in (102), OPS (.990), runs scored (134), hits (219), triples (9), walks (91), on base percentage (.438), slugging percentage (.552), total bases (346) and intentional walks (5). It was a very good year.
Second on the list is probably 2006, when the Yankee Captain hit .343, drove in 97 runs, and recorded a .900 OPS. He also started an interesting streak near the end of the season, as discovered by the New York Post's George King and noted in his "Yankee Notes" column today:
Derek Jeter's eighth-inning homer extended his hitting streak to 17 games. That's the longest active AL streak. He has hit safely in 20 of the 21 games he has had an official at-bat in and 56 of the last 58 regular season games.Those numbers didn't seem like they could even remotely be right, so I looked them up on Baseball-Reference.com. Guess what? They are.
On August 20, Jeter contributed two hits in an 8-5 Yankees win over the Red Sox. It was the start of a 25 game hitting streak (not including an 0-for-0 performance against Tampa Bay on September 12; three walks and a hit by pitch kept the streak intact) that didn't end until the immortal Kevin Jarvis and Craig Hansen held him hitless in four at-bats on September 17. The very next day, the Yankees visited Toronto and Jeter started another streak with a seventh inning single off Jason Frasor. He hit safely in the final eleven games of the season, 36 of the last 37.
Jeter had hits in his first three games this season before being shut down by Baltimore on April 7. Again, the next day, he started a new streak with a base hit (a first inning single off Erik Bedard). As noted by King, this streak is currently active at seventeen games, meaning Jeter has hit safely in 20 of 21 games this season (again, there was a Tampa Bay game with no plate appearances mixed in). That, friends, is 56 of 58 over the last two seasons.
What does this mean, exactly? I'm not entirely sure, but how about this: four average-at-best pitchers - Jarvis, Hansen, Steve Trachsel, and Danys Baez - are the difference between a pressure-free statistical oddity and an unconventional assault on what many consider the most unbreakable record of all-time.
That's what he gets for (presumably) banging Mariah Carey. And Jessica Alba. And Jessica Biel. And Gabrielle Union. If only he'd nailed four average chicks, that record would be his right now.