Going to save the absurdly long Derek Jeter "What Does 3,000 Hits Mean," post for next week. This was originally just part of that post when the Posterisk got unwieldy.
A question: Will Jeter get his 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium?
He's nine hits short, and the Yankees have six games left in their homestand. Is it possible he gets there at home? Sure. Probable? Well, let's say it's somewhere between possible and probable, learning toward possible. Many, many times in his career, Derek Jeter has gotten nine hits in six games. But, of course, Jeter is not that same player.
The last year and a half, Jeter has averaged 6.8 hits per six games. Obviously, that doesn't quite get him there. In the last year and a half, he has pulled off this feat -- nine hits in six game -- about 23.8% of the time. So, you can see by the percentages, it's not impossible but it's going to be tough. This is obvious, but what he really needs is a four-hit day. Friday was a great opportunity for that four-hit day -- Jeter got six plate appearances, and the Yankees knocked Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona out in the fifth inning. He only got one hit, though. And so that could make this tough.
One other thing could make it tough: An odd feature of Jeter's season so far is that offensively he has been brutal at Yankee Stadium -- he's hitting .233/.305/.263 at home with four extra base hits, all doubles. It's silly trying to guess WHY he's been struggling so much at home -- it's only 151 plate appearances. But it's there.
Does it even matter? That is to say: How important is it really for Jeter to get his 3000th hit in front of the home fans? How often do players get their 3,000th hit at home anyway? Well, that's a mixed bag. Some of the most iconic players -- Clemente, Mays, Yaz and Rose for starters -- got their 3,000th hit at home. Also some of the most iconic players -- Kaline, Brett, Gwynn, Aaron for starters -- got their 3,000th hit on the road.
Here are the most recent 20 to get their 3000th hit and where they did it:
1958: Stan Musial: At Wrigley Field in Chicago*
1970: Willie Mays: At home in San Francisco
1970: Hank Aaron: In Cincinnati
1972: Roberto Clemente: At home in Pittsburgh
1974: Al Kaline: In Baltimore
1978: Pete Rose: At home in Cincinnati
1979: Lou Brock: At home in St. Louis
1979: Carl Yastrzemski: At home in Boston
1985: Rod Carew: At home in Anaheim**
1992: Robin Yount: At home in Milwaukee
1992: George Brett: In Anaheim
1993: Dave Winfield: At home in Minnesota.
1995: Eddie Murray: In Minnesota
1996: Paul Molitor: In Kansas City
1999: Wade Boggs: At home in Tampa***
1999: Tony Gwynn: In Montreal
2000: Cal Ripken: In Minnesota
2001: Rickey Henderson: At home in San Diego.****
2005: Rafael Palmeiro: In Seattle
2007: Craig Biggio: At home in Houston
*One of the more famous stories -- Musial got his 3,000th hit as a pinch-hitter at Wrigley.
**And Carew did it against his former team, the Twins.
***It's still strange to think of Wade Boggs in that Rays uniform.
****Technically, every place was Rickey's home.
So, you can see that there's a whole lot of randomness going on for 3,000 hits through the years. It would have been a huge moment for George Brett to get his 3,000th hit in Kansas City, but he got four hits in a game against California ... nothing like having a Midwest Icon get four hits on a Wednesday in Anaheim in the second game of a doubleheader with the Royals returning home. In some ways, Kansas Citians liked to say, it was a perfect representation of Brett's career, where every game mattered, where he could do something remarkable on any night. But I think that was just covering up. People were pretty sad about it.
Molitor got three hits in Kansas City (and the 3,000th was a triple). Gwynn racked up four hits in Stade Olympique in Montreal. The two famed Baltimore teammates -- Ripken and Murray -- coincidentally got their 3,000th hit in the Metrodome. The point is that there has not been much planning, pomp or circumstance in the past over 3,000 hits.
But Jeter's chase of 3,000 is a little different, I think. For one, no Yankees player has ever gotten 3,000 hits. For a team with such an overflowing history, that seems almost incredible. And because the Yankees are the Yankees, because New York is New York, because Jeter is Jeter, there will be more coverage and attention poured on this 3,000th hit than any before.
There's also this: The Yankees gave Derek Jeter a lot more money than any other team would have given him -- more than $51 million -- and that's at least in part because the guy is a YANKEE, all capital letters, and there's little doubt that him getting his 3,000th hit is more than just a celebration of him. It's a celebration of team. It is, like all Yankees celebrations, a festival of Gehrig and DiMaggio and Mantle and Yogi. There's little doubt that the Yankees, their fans and the man who still uses Bob Sheppard's voice as his introduction would like to do this at home, in the house that Jeter helped build.
How can the Yankees maneuver to create the best chance for Jeter to hit No. 3,000 at home? That's a tough one. I think they are mostly out of options. It seems at this point their best bet is to let him hit leadoff for the next six games and just hope he can find a bit of the old magic and get to 3,000 against Texas on Wednesday or Thursday.
But I will say this: If he happens to go hitless that next couple of games, they conceivably could reevaluate. After this homestand, the Yankees go to Wrigley Field to play the Cubs for three. While there's something cool about Jeter getting Hit 3,000 at Wrigley like Musial did, well, it doesn't really feel right. Jeter has only played three games at Wrigley. After that, the Yankees go to Cincinnati for three. Again, kind of cool to think he could get his 3,000th where Pete Rose did. But (1) It's still interleague which doesn't feel right and (2) Rose never played a game in Great American Ball Park.
So, if it becomes clear that Jeter won't do it on this homestand, they could rest him I suppose. The Yankees return for six games after the Cubs' and Reds' series. They could try to space this out. They could also move him down in the lineup to get him fewer at-bats, which after all is what a lot of people want them to do anyway.
But these probably aren't real options. I mean: manipulating Derek Jeter's at-bats in an effort to get him to achieve personal glory at home is exactly the opposite of what Jeter's career stands for. I suspect Jeter will lead off ever day until Thursday and everyone involved will hope that he pulls a little 2009 or 2006 or 1999 from his past and gets his 3,000th hit at home.
I also suspect Derek Jeter will get his 3,000th hit Saturday or Sunday at Wrigley Field.