What’s more impressive? 3,000 hits or 600 saves?
Before really getting into it, I just want to make it perfectly clear. Either 3,000 hits or 600 saves merit you getting into the Hall of Fame. However, now that I’ve put that out there, let’s get into the comparison.
To get to 600 saves, you need to average 30 saves a year over the course of 20 years or 40 saves a year over 15 years. Either one of those numbers is pretty gaudy but that’s just the number of actual saves recorded over a 162 game season. There are also non-save opportunities for closers and the occasional blown save. There’s also that rare occasion when you come in to record a 4 or 5 out save. So let’s assume you’re playing about 24 weeks a season, this means that you’re making a minimum of 2 to 3 appearances a week and pitching an inning at a time. Those numbers add up, especially when you include all the warm ups and the up and down in the bullpen as you get ready to enter.
That being said, 3,000 hits over a 20-year career works out to 150 hits a year, almost a hit a game. The more likely scenario is a 15-year career and that means averaging 200 hits a year. But you’re not just getting at-bats, you’re also playing on a regular basis. Although hitting takes a toll on a player, a much greater physical price is exacted by the daily grind of playing a position.
This question takes on added significance this year with Jeter almost certain to pass the 3,000 hits plateau and the possibility that Rivera could make it to 600 saves. Both men are gifted athletes and both will most likely be first ballot hall of famers. So, which one is more impressive?
This question gets muddied a little with Jeter’s dip in production over the last season and a half but let’s face it. The guy has held down shortstop for the Yankees full-time since 1996. I’m not sure there’s a more stressful position in MLB. And while Rivera has also held a full-time position on the Yankees since 1997, there’s a reason that Jeter is the captain.
That’s the long non-answer. The short answer is that although comparing the two things is not all that different from comparing apples and oranges, at the end of the day you do have to make a decision between the two. I can’t tell you exactly why and I don’t necessarily have the stats to make an open-and-shut case but I happen to think that 3,000 career hits is pretty damn impressive. You can always find a closer. You rarely find a Jeter.
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