|After a few down years, Jeter is hitting like he's back in his prime. (Getty Images)|
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter enters Saturday's game against the Rays with 197 hits this season. He's 38 years old. When he reaches 200 -- and he will, barring some kind of awful slump or an extended injury absence -- he'll become only the fifth player in major-league history to accrue 200 hits in his age-38 season or later.
In fact, Jeter entered Friday leading the majors in hits. If he holds that lead, he'll be the first player to ever lead the majors in his age-38 season or later in a season that wasn't shortened by a strike -- this is defined as a player who turned 38 by June 30 of that season. Paul Molitor led the AL in hits in 1996, but not the entire major leagues. Check it out (reference: Baseball-Reference.com play index):
[Note: Rice had 199 hits in 1929, but I only included the players with 200-plus hits and Jeter, for comparison's sake. And, it's not like Jeter won't be cruising past Rice any day now.]
Considering the Yankees have 18 games left, it's pretty reasonable to believe Jeter will end up with more than 208 hits, so he'll have the second-most hits in a season for a player 38-plus years old. A run at Molitor's 225 is a tall order, but 28 hits in 18 games is obviously possible.
Regardless, this is pretty impressive work from the 38-year-old captain.