Skip to content

Derek Jeter ties Willie Mays on the all-time hits list

Sep 14, 2012, 8:22 AM EDT

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

Obviously they’re two different kinds of players, but it’s kind of cool to see Derek Jeter tie Willie Mays on the career hits list.

Number 3,283 came on a seventh inning RBI single last night during the Yankees 2-0 win over Boston.  It was his 195th hit of the year, which leads the majors. So, bone bruise in his ankle notwithstanding, he’s not just limping past people on the all-time hits list.

Jeter and Mays are tied for 10th* all time. Getting higher up the chart will have to wait until next year, however, as Eddie Collins stands 32 hits ahead, while the Yankees have 19 games to go.  Assuming a healthy and productive 2013, however, Jeter could pass not just Collins, but Paul Molitor, Carl Yastrzemski, and Honus Wagner.

If he wants to move higher, he’ll either need a new contract that takes him into 2014 or else he’ll need to exercise his 2014 player option and be still good enough to get regular playing time. If that happens, there lies Tris Speaker at fourth place and Stan Musial at third.

That seems like a reasonably possible place for Jeter to top out, leaving only Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose ahead of him. Then again, no one really figured Jeter would have a 200-hit season at age 38 either, so who the hell knows how far he’ll go?

*Fun times: when I first wrote this early this morning I had Jeter and Mays at 11th. Why? Because when you go to Baseball-Reference.com and look at the hits leaders, that’s where they are, and dammit, as an Internety baseball writer, Baseball-Reference.com is the word of God.

However, I did not take into account Cap Anson. Baseball-Reference.com lists him as sixth all time on the hits list with 3,435 hits.  But they’re alone in this, however. Official statistics of Major League Baseball, the Elias Sports Bureau and the like don’t include Anson’s National Association totals, obtained in the first four years of his career in the 1870s. That’s over 400 hits he’s docked, putting him down in Wade Boggs/Rafael Palmiero land.  I spoke with Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com about it this morning, and he explained to me that while scholarly and research consensus on the matter consider the National Association to be every bit as much a major league as the National League was back in the day, Major League Baseball disagrees.

Should we feel bad for Major League Baseball’s refusal to recognize all of Cap Anson’s hits? Nope! And not because I have any insight into why his National Association hits should or should not be discounted. Rather, it’s because he was also a total jackwagon racist scumbag who bore large responsibility for baseball’s segregation, and if it meant docking him 3,000 more hits I’d do it in a second because he helped cost America the chance to see Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and those guys play against Major Leaguers on a regular basis in their primes.

But I suppose that gets us rather far afield of statistics.

  1. proudlycanadian - Sep 14, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    Mays was the best player I have ever seen. Jeter is a tremendous singles hitter. He is famously single and a big hitter with the ladies.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      Im surprised you dont think Gose is the best hitter you ever saw, i mean the way you rant about him you would think he was actually good until you go check his numbers then you realize he isnt even remotely good

  2. screaminzab - Sep 14, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    Now that’s how we like to start our Friday!

  3. dcfan4life - Sep 14, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Does the fact that Jeter played successfully in a tainted era diminish this accomplishment in any way? As one who hates the Yankees but respects and admires Jeter, i would be shocked to find out he used steroids in any way. However it seems all major accomplishments of this era seem less important. He will have many better stats the greats like Mays, Gehrig, Mantle, but will never be put in the same class. None of todays players will be. The era is so different with the cloud of steroids it kills the amazing stats some players like Jeter have done. I mean to be that good, that long, in New York, without any distractions, in a social media age, is truly remarkable.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 14, 2012 at 8:42 AM

      Why does it diminish it, when players of that era cheated as well? All stats of every generation need to be put in some sort of context.

    • southofheaven81 - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      If Jeter’s clean, I’d say it actually enhances his stats, since he played against ‘roided-up pitching.

    • steeler999 - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:57 AM

      So you think most players cheated, but Jeter most likely did not. Wouldn’t that enhance what he has done and not diminish it? Jeter not only succeeded but thrived, without performance enhancers. Of course that is a complete assumption on my part. There’s no way to truly ever know who did what when it comes to performance enhancers.

      • dcfan4life - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:29 AM

        Your response is exactly why i asked the question. Since there is no way of ever knowing who did what, even a guy most would assume is clean like Jeter has to have his stats diminished. He is not, and never will be called Willie Mayes or Mickey Mantle. Yet he will have better overall stats than both. Makes you think doesnt it?

      • steeler999 - Sep 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM

        I am a yankee fan and respect Jeter very much, but the reason he will never be called Mays or Mantle is because he was never the player they were. Jeter has been a great player and remarkably consistant over his career, but he has never been the game changer Mays or Mantle were, steroid era or not.

    • theawesomersfranchise - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      He will not be put into the same class as Gehrig….because he ISN’T in the same class as Gehrig.

      Career
      124 wRC+ & 77.7 WAR

      vs

      174 wRC+ & 125.9 WAR

      Lots of hits (singles) doesn’t put you into the conversation with Gehrig….
      k?

      • 18thstreet - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM

        It’s no shame to be less than Gehrig.

        Sheesh.

      • theawesomersfranchise - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Never said it was, but the poster above was lamenting the fact that Jeter has some unfair force at work keeping him from being on the same level as Gehrig, when in reality that unfair force is reality.
        Jeter is a stud, a sure fire Hall of Famer
        Gehrig is a comic book superhero, stuff of legend, a Hall of Famer of Hall of Famers

    • Jeremy T - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      Absolutely doesn’t diminish the accomplishment in any way. If Jeter’s clean, it makes it that much more impressive. If he’s not (and honestly, I don’t think I can say there’s any player that would surprise me more), then he was still on basically an even playing field with his contemporaries, which is really all that matters when discussing this kind of thing. Jeter’s certainly not a player on the level of Mays as far as overall value (defense alone makes that a ludicrous argument, not to mention power), but he’s established himself as one of the best shortstops of all time, and if he somehow remains as ageless as he’s seemed this year for much longer, he could end up going down as one of the best singles/doubles hitters at any position.

  4. Detroit Michael - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Paul Molitor led the AL in hits when he was age 40 but (as far as I know) that’s the oldest league leader in hits. Jeter is close but won’t claim that title if he hangs on to the lead.

  5. hushbrother - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Bill James’ book on managers includes a long article about Anson. James says that, yes, Anson was a racist – his team employed a black man as a mascot and Anson treated him “exactly as one would treat a dog.” But the assertion that Anson was directly responsible for segregating professional baseball is incorrect. Anson was a big star and manager of a high profile team, but had no actual power to enforce or effectively advocate segregation. That was a league stance and, really, the stance of mainstream America.

    But yeah, screw ‘im.

    • dlf9 - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      The article in the Managers book is a shortened version of an article from James’ Baseball Book from 1990. The earlier version provides a little more information on Anson’s involvement in the early color line than does the one in the latter book.

  6. Lukehart80 - Sep 14, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Much of my extended family lives in or near Marshalltown, Iowa, which is where Cap Anson is from. When I first learned that as a kid, I thought it was incredibly cool and exciting. As I eventually learned more about what type of person Anson was, it became progressively less and less cool. If only my family lived a little further Southwest, in Van Meter, I’d have a Bob Feller connection instead, which would be outstanding.

  7. deathmonkey41 - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    What does it matter if Cap Anson was a racist or not? If he has the numbers, he has the numbers. You’re willing to include the numbers of known cheaters like McGuire and Bonds, but not Cap Anson because he grew up in an era where segregation was common place and was probably raised to believe that was the right thing to do? If MLB doesn’t want to include the numbers from the National Association, that’s one thing, but to exclude him or say he doesn’t deserve consideration because of personal beliefs, that’s being as short-sighted as what you’re criticizing him for.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Dude, I am NOT seriously advocating that Anson’s hits be docked. I was just explaining why I don’t have much personal sympathy for the guy if there’s a dispute over 3400 hits or merely 3000 depending on the interpretation.

      Indeed, I’m inclined to side with the BR-SABR people and say Anson deserves to be higher on the list due to their research into the National Association.

      • deathmonkey41 - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:48 AM

        Roger. And go Jeter!!!

      • natstowngreg - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        Agree that, if you’re going to include pre-1900 National League stats, you should include National Association stats.

        Also agree that Anson’s poor character and his excellent batting record are different issues. Stats do not come with morals clauses. See the recent discussion of Melky Cabrera and his chances of winning the NL batting title. BTW, Pete Rose and Ty Cobb, both men of questionable character, lead the hit list.

  8. nmrdr795 - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    G.O.A.T

  9. yankee7fan - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Here is my take on Jeter vs Mays vs Mantle

    Putting aside steriod era let’s look at what Mays and Mantle might have done in the same period Jeter played. That is with the same nutrition and training and technology.

    Mays was a 5 tool player, Mantle 6, because he could hit from both sides of the plate.

    Mantle would benefit from three things which would have extended or enhanced his career; better medical treatment, better rehab techniques and smaller ball parks. Mantle on average had 25 balls of 420 feet or more caught for outs. OK that’s as many as 400 more homers! No need to go any further.

    Mays using today’s more flexible lumber would also have a rise in home runs

    I would safely guess that with better travel , lack of doubleheaders and turf fields each could have compiled 30 hits more a season.

    Let’s not forget Mantle went to 12 world series.

    Jeter on the other hand, probably would have the same or similar average in the 50 -60 ‘s with less power .

    All in all Mick and Mays today would be even more iconish, Jeter in the 50 60’s still HOF

    • Lukehart80 - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:44 PM

      Mays and Mantle would also be facing pitchers with access to those advantages and a far more diverse league in general. They were both better ballplayers than Jeter and both would have been all-time greats in any era, but I don’t think it’s possible for either of them to be any more “iconish” than they already are.

  10. florida727 - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    My apologies, but this question is straight out of the ignorance file: do post-season hits NOT count?

    You said Jeter is 32 hits shy of Eddie Collins with 19 games to play. But if the Yankees make a decent post-season run, Jeter could get to 32 more, not easily, but certainly. Sorry to ask such a probably dumb question.

    • larrytsg - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:15 PM

      Post Season hits do not count in a player’s overall career numbers, which are based only on the regular season (and maybe include tie breakers, ie 163rd game). There is usually another part of a player’s profile listing post-season stats, but these are traditionally not included in with the regular season. I guess it probably has something to do with all seasons being basically equivalent across the league, but a team like the Yankees will accumulate a lot of post season appearances over the past 20 years compared to a team, like… um… the Pirates. Makes it a wee bit easier to compare counting stats on players when they have the opportunity to play the same number of games.

  11. avietar - Sep 14, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Should we feel bad for Major League Baseball’s refusal to recognize all of Cap Anson’s hits? Nope! And not because I have any insight into why his National Association hits should or should not be discounted. Rather, it’s because he was also a total jackwagon racist scumbag who bore large responsibility for baseball’s segregation…”

    You could just as easily be describing Ty Cobb, so why not expend some of this scholarly energy trying to find questionable hits that may be expunged from Cobb’s record?

  12. fmlondon - Sep 14, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Which is outrageous! The National Association was the first major league, and there is no excuse for excluding it as such. So, Cap Anson’s hits from 1871-5 were just as valid as his subsequent one. The National Association was the best players on the best teams in baseball. If that is not major league, what is?

  13. freeagentsignee - Sep 21, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    Congratulations Derek!

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Who are the favorites for Rookie of the Year?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3574)
  2. Y. Molina (3055)
  3. J. Soler (2937)
  4. D. Ortiz (2356)
  5. B. Colon (2327)
  1. D. Wright (2200)
  2. S. Doolittle (2096)
  3. Y. Darvish (2057)
  4. R. Cano (1998)
  5. T. Lincecum (1961)