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Derek Jeter to Retire: Where Does He Stand Among All-Time Greats

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced on Wednesday that the 2014 season, his 20th in MLB, would be his final year.

Derek Jeter to Retire: Where Does He Stand Among All-Time Greats
Derek Jeter will retire as one of the game's greatest-ever shortstops of all-time. Photo courtesy mccarmona23 via Creative Commons license.

As part of the original Core Four that included Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter won five World Series titles with the New York Yankees. He started winning from the start, helping the Bronx Bombers win a title in 1996, his first full season in the majors and the Yankees’ first championship since 1978.

Now, he’ll join Posada, Pettitte and Rivera in calling it a career.

Jeter announced on his Facebook page on Wednesday that the 2014 season would mark his final season donning the pinstripes for the New York Yankees.

In his statement, Jeter talked about the toll that last year’s injury, a fractured ankle, took on his body, and he realized that it was time to walk away from the game he loves.

“I want to start by saying thank you. 

I know they say that when you dream you eventually wake up. Well, for some reason, I've never had to wake up. Not just because of my time as a New York Yankee but also because I am living my dream every single day.

Last year was a tough one for me. As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle. The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward.

So really it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100% sure. 

And the thing is, I could not be more sure. I know it in my heart. The 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball.”

Jeter fractured his left ankle in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, and he was only able to play in 17 games last season as a result. It’s clear that the devastating injury played a role in his decision.

At 39 years of age, Jeter has done about all there is to do in the sport. He’s 10th all-time in MLB history with 3,319 hits and could climb to as high as sixth if he remains healthy in his final season. He has been selected as an All-Star 13 times, has won five Gold Glove awards and was named the Rookie of the Year in 1996. He has climbed to the top of the sport while maintaining an air of class of dignity that is simply unmatched.

Jeter will have a chance to pass Honus Wagner on the all-time list among shortstops with the most hits ever from that position as well.

Yankees play-by-play announcer Suzyn Waldman told Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe that Jeter’s legacy matches that of Yankee greats Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. It’s hard to argue that fact.

It’s not a coincidence that the Yankees ended their long World Series drought when Jeter arrived on the scene as a heralded rookie in 1996. First baseman Don Mattingly fondly recalled seeing Jeter for the first time in 1993 as a prospect invited to spring training, and he knew that Jeter was special from the start.

Much like Mattingly himself, Jeter will be going out on his own terms, and likely at the top of his game. He led all of MLB in hits in his last full season in 2012, and if fully healthy this year, fans will again see a player who is driven to succeed and one who fights for success with each at-bat.

Jeter’s has meant so much to the Yankees over his 20-year career, and there’s no question that when the Hall of Fame comes calling in 2020, he will not just be a first-ballot selection, he will also be inducted as one of the best players in baseball history. 

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