Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Derek Jeter and Sam Crawford

Jeter photo courtesy of Getty Images
The Derek Jeter watch is alive and well. As we all know, the Yankee Captain is closing in on yet another milestone-- 3000 hits.

Jeter, who is off to a slow start, currently has 2945 career hits. He recently passed the great Frank Robinson (2943) for sole possession of 30th place on the all-time list. Next up-- the legendary dead-ball era great Sam Crawford, who is 29th with 2961 hits.

Nicknamed "Wahoo Sam", Crawford played in the major leagues from 1899 to 1917 with the Cincinnati Reds (1899-1902) and the Detroit Tigers (1903-1917). Along with his 2961 hits, he had a career .309 BA and 1525 RBI. Crawford is best known for holding the almost-unbreakable major league record of 309 career triples. In today's game most players are lucky if they hit 100 triples for their careers but Crawford's high number was due to the fact that he played in an era when triples were more common than home runs based on ballpark dimensions. To put it in perspective, he led the NL in home runs in 1901 with 16 and he led the AL in homers in 1908 with 7. As for triples, he led the NL in 1902 with 22 and he led the AL 5 times with-- 25 in 1903, 19 in 1910, 23 in 1913, 26 in 1914, 19 in 1915. I guess they don't call it the "Dead-Ball Era" for nothing?

Ironically, the only active player who (I think) has a slim chance of, at least, cracking the top 10 in career triples is another Crawford-- the active leader Carl Crawford who has 105 career triples. Hall of Famer Paul Waner is 10th on the all-time list with 191 triples. At 29, Crawford (Carl that is) may have 87 triples left in him and at least catch Waner.

Carl Crawford (Getty Images) and HOF Paul Waner
As for Crawford (Sam that is), who was the immortal Ty Cobb's "right-hand man" during the great Tiger teams of the early years, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1957.

So with 17 more hits, Jeter will surpass Crawford on the all-time list as he marches toward 3000. As for the immortal Cobb, well, at 4189 hits, he isn't even in Jeter's radar. At least, not yet!

Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com

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