Today with a single and a home run Derek Jeter got his 2999th and 3000th hits, joining a group of just 27 other players to do so. Jeter is the fourth youngest player to reach the mark, having turned 37 on June 26th. Ty Cobb did it as a 34-year old while Hank Aaron and Robin Yount as 36-year olds. Pete Rose got his 3000th hit at age 37 and 21 days, a few days older than Jeter. Inspired by Steve’s HR-pace graph — and this great New York Times career-HR pace graph — I wanted to see how Jeter’s hit pace compares to the other members of the 3000-hit club.
Below is a graph showing hits accumulated by seasonal age. The graph is interactive, so that you can hover over and click on the names at the left to compare the pace of different players. It is a canvas element so it only works in modern browsers (i.e., no IE8 or older). Here is a sample image if it doesn’t work on your browser.
The age is seasonal age not actual age. So in the graph Tris Speaker and Stan Musial get to 3000 hits faster because they did it sooner in their age-37 season even though they were older when it happened. The data come from Retrosheet. Where available it is daily, but for pre-1918 seasons it is just yearly (see Ty Cobb for an example of yearly versus daily data).
Looking at Jeter you can see he got a relatively late start, but then he accumulated hits at a very good clip. By 30 he had more hits than most of the 3000-hit club members did at that age. Since then he hasn’t slowed down as much as most, and he is way ahead of the pack for his age. Given his legend-like status and contract through the 2014 season (with the player option) — even with his talents diminished — he should get a good number more plate appearances before he retires. He should almost surely move into the top ten (by passing Eddie Collins at 3315 hits) and maybe the top five (by passing Tris Speaker at 3514 hits). Until then congratulations to a guy who has already had a great career.