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Derek Jeter's history-making 2012

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Derek JeterOn Sunday against the A's, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter ripped a first-inning single for the 3,155 hit of his career. In doing so, he moved past George Brett and into 14th place on the all-time list. There's a reasonable chance that Jeter will also pass Cal Ripken Jr., Nap Lajoie, Eddie Murray, and maybe even Willie Mays before the season ends. But that's not all.

Jeter is presently 37 years of age, but because he'll have a birthday before the midpoint, this is considered his age-38 season. It's rare even to be a major-league regular at such an age, and it's even rarer to be a full-time shortstop at 38. Rarer still is to do what Jeter is doing: playing a key, up-the-middle position while also producing at a high level at the plate.

Consider that Jeter, after his 1-for-5 performance on Sunday, is now batting .338/.380/.465 on the season. That's good for an OPS+ of 129, which, if sustained, will be the second-highest such mark of Jeter's career.

What's really significant is that Jeter's 129 OPS+ would be second-highest mark of all-time for any qualifying shortstop age 38 or older. The only one ahead of Jeter? The great Honus Wagner, who churned out an OPS+ of 144 back in 1912.

Jeter's also on pace for 231 hits and 17 homers. Each of those would be single-sesason records for that same age-and-position peer group. As well, his projected doubles total of 36 would rank second to Barry Larkin's 37 in 2002, again among shortstops age 38 or older.

It of course remains to be seen whether Jeter can maintain such a pace, but thus far he's defied age in a big way. That his historic start comes after his struggles in 2011 only adds to the story.

At an age when most future Hall of Famers are struggling to stave off forced retirement, Jeter is playing not just at an All-Star level but also at a historic level.


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