Commentary

Andrus wants to see idol hit No. 3,000

Young, Andrus share admiration for accomplishments of Yankees shortstop

Updated: June 14, 2011, 6:35 PM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

NEW YORK -- Elvis Andrus was hoping that Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit would happen while the Texas Rangers were at Yankee Stadium during a three-game series that starts Tuesday.

The Rangers shortstop had a caveat, though.

"I hope it's a regular base hit and then a double play happens after that and we win the game," Andrus said. "But I do hope he gets that hit against us. It would be special to see that. He's my idol as a player."

But Andrus and the Rangers won't be able to witness the milestone hit in person, however, after Jeter was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a calf strain suffered in Monday night's game against the Cleveland Indians.

Jeter picked up his 2,994th career hit before the fifth-inning injury.

[+] EnlargeDerek Jeter
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireDerek Jeter's consistent hitting has been impressive -- even to his opponents.

Michael Young was another Ranger who has been hoping for the chance to congratulate Jeter on the achievement. Young, 34, is the closest of any Ranger to that 3,000-hit plateau, and he's still more than 1,000 away.

"He can do it," Andrus said of Young. "If he stays healthy, he's got a lot of years left."

Both players respect what Jeter is about to do, noting that it's impressive he's doing it in a city with some of the brightest lights and heaviest pressure in sports.

"When I see him play, I can see myself doing the same stuff," Andrus said. "One of the biggest reasons is the leadership. He's a great leader. He's a winner. That's what I'm looking for. I want to be a leader and a winner. He's done that. That's what I'm trying to do."

But can Andrus follow in Jeter's footsteps and get to 3,000 hits?

"If I stay healthy, I'd like to try," Andrus said. "I have a lot of high goals, but it's too early to think that way. But I got to the big leagues at a really young age, and that's one thing it takes. If I can stay healthy and play until I'm 38 or 40 years old, why not?"

It's worth noting that if Andrus continues at his pace this season, he'll be ahead of where Jeter was when he finished his age-22 season.

Young is a lot closer to "38 or 40 years old" -- and a lot closer to 3,000 hits -- than Andrus. The Rangers veteran leader's role was altered this season to primarily a designated hitter, but it hasn't slowed down his bat. He's been one of the team's best hitters and has collected 79 hits, third most in the American League this season.

[+] EnlargeMichael Young and Elvis Andrews
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesMichael Young and Elvis Andrus share a mutual admiration for what Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has been able to accomplish.

Young said he doesn't think about 3,000 hits -- after all, he just passed the 1,900-hit mark earlier this season.

"That's not to say that I don't have lofty goals, because I do, but I think the best way I've approached my career is pound away at the game I'm playing that night," Young said. "I'm nearly at 2,000 and got to this point pretty quickly because of the way I play. That's not going to change.

"One thing I'm confident in is that I'm going to stay healthy. I'm confident that I'm going to remain consistent. As long as I'm still doing those things and having fun playing this game, I'm going to keep working and keep grinding."

Young has been the Rangers' model of consistency, playing in at least 135 games in each of his nine full seasons. He had six straight seasons of at least 200 hits from 2003 to 2007 and has hit .284 or better since 2003, including a AL-high .331 in 2005.

Young's current numbers are similar to those of former Houston Astros star Craig Biggio at the same point in his career. At 33 (which Young was in 2010), Biggio had 20 more hits than Young, and Biggio played eight more seasons to get to 3,000. If Young continues at his average, he could reach 3,000 hits in seven seasons, which would put him in his early 40s.

Young knows what getting 3,000 hits means, and he's impressed by how Jeter's closing in on it.

"You don't see many 15-year careers and seeing guys averaging 200 hits for that amount of time, and that's what it takes to get there," Young said. "I'm big on guys being durable and playing through pain and finding a way to be consistent. For the most part, you know what you're getting with guys that get 3,000 hits. There are slight fluctuations in numbers, but you know what you're getting. That's impressive."

Young will keep going about his preparation to see if he can extend his career to edge toward that accomplishment at some point, too.

"It's still a long way away," Young said. "It got to 1,000 in '06 and there's been a lot of baseball played since then. I'm too respectful to think those things are automatic."

Here's a closer look at the chances Young and Andrus have of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information):

• We noted Biggio compares favorably with Young. Through their age-33 seasons, Biggio had 1,868 hits and Young had 1,848. Right now, FanGraphs.com has Young on pace for 183 hits this season, which would put him at 2,031 career. If he reached that total, Young would need to play seven more seasons and average 139 hits over that span.

• Andrus is on pace for about 166 hits this season, which would put him at 450 for his career through his age-22 season. Through Jeter's age-22 season, he had only 195 hits. Through last season, according to Baseball-Reference.com, Andrus was compared to Alan Trammell as a similar player at that point in their careers at the shortstop position. Trammell went on to play another 17 seasons, compiling 2,110 hits during that span and 2,365 for his career. Assuming Andrus is at or near the 450-hit mark at the end of this season, if he were to play another 16 years, he would need to average about 160 hits per season to reach the 3,000 mark. That type of consistency would be unlikely, especially if his career continues to project with that of Trammell, who had only five seasons in his career in which he had 160 or more hits. The 160-hits mark is a good barometer again to measure Andrus against Jeter. Jeter had 14 seasons in his career in which he had 160 or more hits, the most such seasons by a player who played at least 70 percent of his games in a season at the shortstop position in the live-ball era. In fact, no other player in the live-ball era even had 10 such seasons, so in terms of measuring Andrus against Jeter, he must develop into the consistent offensive option that Jeter did.

• What if Josh Hamilton had started his career sooner and stayed healthy? Sure, it's big-time speculation. But as well as he's hit during his short stint, you wonder, don't you? If he started his career at age 23 (2004) and played 150 games in each season and kept the averages he had from 2007 to 2010, he would average 177 hits per season and would need 17 seasons to reach the 3,000 plateau.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. Steven Glasser of ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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