…it’s his teammates, too.
With all the attention surrounding Jeter’s new deal I did a little checking on his career numbers and noticed that over the last 3 years had 69, 66, and 67 RBIs, and that if he collects 65 more rib-eyes in 2011 he’ll reach 1,200 for his career. Now that might not seem like a lot to some of us but it’s more than Rocky Colavito or Joe Torre or Jack Clark—none of whom were slouches. Heck, Chuck Klein, a Hall of Famer and a triple crown winner had a career total of 1,201 RBIs. Or take George Foster. He played 18 years in the majors, drove in 90 or more runs 7 times, even led the league 3 straight years, and retired with a career total of 1,239. So, yeah, 1,200 career RBIs is rather significant.
It’s even more significant when you realize that of Jeter’s thus far 9,322 career ABs only 509 (5.5%) have come while batting 3rd, 4th or 5th. Just think of the great Yankee teams of 1996-2001. Their 3rd, 4th and 5th batters were basically Paul O’Neill (1,269 RBIs), Bernie Williams (1,257) and Tino Martinez (1,271). Good career totals all; but Jeter’s going to blow by them.
So I got to wondering: Who’s the big RBI man among hitters who didn’t bat 3rd, 4th or 5th for his career? There’s Robin Yount. 1,406 career RBIs. But he had over 3,200 ABs batting 3rd, 4th or 5th (about 35% of his career total). Pudge Rodriguez has 1,313, but he’s had about 33.3% of his ABs from the middle of the order. Ditto Paul Molitor: 1,307 RBIs and 32.6% of his ABs from the RBI slots. Now 33% or so might not seem like a heck of a lot at first blush, but it’s the equivalent in these cases of about 5 or 6 full seasons; and it is a heck of a lot more than Jeter who will be pushing 1,300 by the end of his current contract. So that just leaves Pete Rose—unless I’m missing someone—with a career total of 1,314 RBIs while batting leadoff almost his entire career. That’s 178 RBIs more than Jeter at this moment, and a possible target for him over the next 3 years. So will Jeter become the all time RBI leader for non-RBI men? An oddish honor perhaps, but an honor nonetheless.