Only nine men have more career hits than Derek Jeter. The Yankee great could surpass more than half of them this year.
The future Hall of Fame shortstop showed no signs of slowing down in 2012, collecting 216 hits - the second-best mark of his career - to raise his total to 3,304.
A repeat 200-hit season seems unlikely, and would be especially challenging considering Jeter spent the entire offseason recovering from a broken ankle. However, it's not unrealistic to think that he could accrue as many as 186 hits, his average over the past three seasons, in 2013.
Using that total, and assuming he's ready for Opening Day, we've projected when Jeter would pass the Hall of Famers ahead of him on the career hits list. Here's a look at the projections, as well as a glance at the players in Jeter's path.
Years active: 1906-1930
A Columbia University graduate, the lefthanded hitting second baseman is credited as the all-time leader in sacrifice hits with 511. A four-time World Series champion, he was also a member of the infamous "Chicago Black Sox," but was not implicated in the conspiracy to throw the 1919 World Series.
Needing just 10 hits, Jeter is a virtual lock to move into ninth place on the list ahead of Collins. Look for him to do so on April 11 at Cleveland.
Years active: 1978-1998
The only other player among the top 10 to play in the '90s, Molitor is the rare Hall of Famer to have spent nearly half of his career as a designated hitter. A righthanded hitter, the 1993 World Series MVP for the Blue Jays also holds the distinction of slapping the most hits (225) during the season in which he surpassed the 3,000-hit milestone.
Like Collins, Molitor should be in Jeter's rearview very early in the season. We project the Yankees captain logs his 16th hit of the season and passes Molitor on April 16 at home against Arizona.
Years active: 1897-1917
Perhaps better known for his highly valuable baseball card, the shortstop spent the bulk of his career with the Pirates. He won the 1909 World Series with Pittsburgh, and won eight batting titles as a righthanded hitter. He was part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1936.
Wagner sits 126 hits ahead of Jeter entering the season. It's very likely the Yankee surpasses him and moves into sixth, and we project that will take place on Aug. 4 at San Diego.
Years active: 1907-1928
Speaker is baseball's all-time leader in doubles with 792 in his career. A lefthanded hitter, he was named the AL MVP for the Red Sox in 1912. He spent half of his 22 seasons with Cleveland, managing the team during eight of those years - including the Indians' first World Series title in 1920.
With 211 hits to go, Jeter would need a repeat of 2012's incredible hit total during the season in which he turns 39 years old. It's possible he moves ahead of Speaker in late September, but our bet is during the early part of 2014.
Assuming Jeter wants to play long enough, he has a small chance to leave baseball as the game's all-time hits king. He's got a long way to go before he catches Pete Rose for that mark. Here are the top four on the list and how many hits Jeter would need to surpass them.