With Derek Jeter's number being retired in 2017, here's a look back at his memorable career

So the baseball winter meetings have concluded and the Yankees made their moves inking Aroldis Chapman to the richest contract for a relief pitcher in history and bringing in Matt Holliday on a one-year deal presumably to be the everyday DH.  There are 58 days until the Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa for Spring Training and we are to believe Brian Cashman's statements, we will be getting a very slow trickle of news out of Yankeeland until then.
Photo Credit: Michelle Agins | NY Times

We did however get a small bit of news recently that should give Yankee fans another reason to look forward to the season. The Yankees announced that they will be retiring Derek Jeter’s historic no. 2 and honoring him with a plaque in Monument Park on May 14th at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter, as per usual, has not been in the news all that much since his retirement following the 2014 season although he has made a few appearances at Yankee Stadium to attend the number retirement ceremonies of several of his former teammates. But this May, Jeter will be back in the spotlight and back on the field at Yankee Stadium, a place in which he created so many iconic moments and cemented his legacy as an all-time Yankee.

With Jeter set to return and have his moment, it got me thinking about his playing career again. Jeter played 20 seasons for the New York Yankees and it would be impossible to try and recall all of his great moments but for me personally Jeter was the victim of some recency bias. Great players very often hang around too long and become a shell of what they used to be. Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant are good examples of this. Jeter for the majority of his career avoided major injuries and was always on the field. That changed when he broke his ankle during the postseason of 2012 and that set the stage for the last two seasons of his career. Over the course of those two seasons Jeter did look like a shell of himself, suffering through several injuries and setbacks during the 2013 season and struggling to a .256 batting average and looking very shaky at times in the field in 2014. These two tough seasons left many fans like myself looking forward to the end so that the Yankees and Jeter could finally move on from each other on a positive note.
Photo Credit: Robert Sabo
So the announcement got me thinking not just about these injury plagued seasons that he struggled through to end his career, but it got me thinking more about the glory days of Derek Jeter. For his career, he was a .310 hitter who ranks in the top 10 in just about every major statistical category for the franchise according to Baseball Reference including being first in games played (2747), at bats (11195), hits (3465) and doubles (544). He is also fifth in WAR (71.8), eighth in batting average (.310), second in runs scored (1923) and third in total bases (4921). He even managed to finish ninth in home runs (260) which speaks more to longevity than it does about actual home run hitting ability but it's impressive either way. Thanks to the Yankees numerous lengthy runs into the postseason he is also a career .308 postseasons hitter who ranks first all time in several categories including plate appearances, hits, total bases and runs scored. 
Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun | AP
Although all those numbers are impressive, especially when it comes to a franchise with as many great players as the Yankees, it is not so much about the stats than it is about the moments, and Derek has had more than his fair share of amazing moments. It started off very early in his career with the Jeffrey Maier home run in 1996 and continued with his incredible 1999 regular season when he led the league in hits and batted .349. His feats continued in his torturing of the Mets during the 2000 Subway Series World Series and his first pitch home run to lead off game four of that series, "The Flip" play and the Mr. November walk off home run in 2001. His head first dive into the stands in 2004 during an emotional game against the Red Sox when that rivalry was at its most heated state. He concluded it all with some of the more recent moments such as becoming the Yankee hits leader during the 2009 season, the home run for hit number 3000 during the 2011 season and finally, the walk off single during an emotional night at Yankee Stadium in September of 2014.
Photo Credit: Robert Sabo
These moments are some of his most memorable but there are plenty to choose from and I’m sure we all have different moments that are meaningful to us. After the last few years, I now have yet another reason to look forward to this upcoming season. The announcement of his upcoming ceremony allowed me to write this as an ode to the player that was always my favorite Yankee and always a person that I looked up to as a kid growing up in the 90s. I’ll definitely be looking forward to May 14th and the lead up to that day because it will allow all of us to step back in time and relive some of the glory days of the 90s and 2000s. 

With all of the youth that is currently knocking on the door, who knows? We could be on the cusp of seeing the beginning of the next Jeter just as we give the original one his final celebration.

Article by: Matt Graziano


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