Ever since 38-year-old Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter collected his 3,256th career hit a short time ago, I've heard hints and whispers that since he's only 1,000 hits behind all-time leader Pete Rose, it's only a matter of time before he overtakes the reigning Hit King. That's true. It is a matter of time. Time Jeter simply doesn't have. Let's look a little deeper at this thing, shall we?
Jeter is roughly 1,000 hits behind Pete Rose. Many pundits and so-called baseball experts seem to think it's a given that Jeter will catch Rose in five years. But has anyone really taken the time to think about this? In our day and age where numbers like 1 million, 100 million, and 1 billion are tossed around in reference to players' salaries and the value of franchises, a number like 1,000 seems almost pathetically small. But is it, really? In order to catch Rose, Jeter would have to AVERAGE 200 hits per year for the next five years. Even the best hitters in baseball rarely collect 200 hits in a season, much less when they are in their late 30's/early 40's, a time when a hitter's skills are naturally declining. Do you really think, despite his success this year, that Jeter will be among the league leaders in hitting for the next five years? I don't.
One of the other factors that will hold Jeter back is the position he plays. Rose played many different positions over the course of his career, but when it became apparent that he had a legitimate shot at catching and passing Ty Cobb, he moved to first base and stayed there. First base is a much less physically demanding position than shortstop, as everyone knows. Jeter has shown no willingness to give up the shortstop position, and with Mark Teixiera, the Yankees are set at first base for years to come. Yes, Jeter has the option of stepping into the DH spot, but his overall lack of power makes this a bad fit for the Yankees. So don't look for the Captain to move to DH anytime soon.
So how realistic is it that Jeter can chase down Rose? In my opinion, not realistic at all. Jeter is a great player, and a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, but I don't see any possibility of him entering the Hall as the all-time hits leader. At least, that's the way it looks from the Cheap Seats.