Notes: Fittingly, Jeter will open final season in Houston
In 1992, Astros held first pick in Draft, but passed on the legendary Yanks shortstop
The beginning of the end of Derek Jeter's career will come in Houston.
The New York Yankees open the regular season against the Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park on April 1.
And to think, Jeter is believed to have come within $50,000 of having actually played for the Astros instead of the Yankees.
The Astros had the first pick in the 1992 First-Year Player Draft. Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser, the Astros' area scout in Michigan, was a believer in Jeter and spent time getting to know the high school shortstop and his parents. Newhouser was convinced Jeter was the top player available, and according to members of the Astros who were in the Draft room, he assured club officials they could sign Jeter for $750,000.
John McMullen, who owned the Astros at the time, had put a $700,000 limit on the signing bonus for the first pick in the Draft and wouldn't budge. So instead of selecting Jeter -- who went No. 6 overall to the Yankees -- the Astros picked Phil Nevin.
Nevin was No. 6 on the Astros' wish list, but the five players ahead of him, including Jeter, wouldn't agree to a $700,000 bonus.
Just think of what might have been. As it was, the Astros advanced to the postseason six times in the nine-year period from 1997-2005. What if they had Jeter at short along with Jeff Bagwell at first and Craig Biggio at second? The Astros had four regular shortstops in those nine years -- Tom Bogar (1997, '99-2000), Ricky Gutierrez ('98), Julio Lugo (2001-02) and Adam Everett ('03-04).
Jeter will have spent his entire 20-year big league career with the Yankees -- only the 18th player in history to play for just one team in a career that lasted at least 20 years. Brooks Robinson (Baltimore, 1955-77) and Carl Yastrzemski (Boston, 1961-83) hold the record for the longest careers with just one team at 23 seasons.
Of the 18 big leaguers to have played 20 or more seasons with a single club, seven started their careers after 1970. Eight spent the bulk of their careers between '25-69, and only three played prior to '25.
Of the 17 such players prior to Jeter, the only ones who are not in the Hall of Fame are Biggio (20 years with Houston), Mel Harder (20 years with Cleveland) and Alan Trammell (20 years with Detroit), and Biggio seems to be a Cooperstown lock, likely as soon as next season.
The group of 18 includes three White Sox (Ted Lyons, Luke Appling and Red Faber), and two each from Baltimore (Robinson and Cal Ripken) and Detroit (Trammell and Al Kaline).
At the other extreme, among players with at least 20 years in the big leagues, Mike Morgan has played for the most franchises, with 12. In his 22-year career, Morgan spent time with Oakland, the Yankees, Toronto, Seattle, Baltimore, the Dodgers, the Cubs (twice), St. Louis, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Texas and Arizona.
Jeter's announcement he will retire at season's end has impacted the ticket market. StubHub reports that in the first two days after Jeter's decision was made public, the page views for Yankees tickets increased by 900 percent. The two top-selling games for 2014 are the Yankees' home finale on Sept. 25 against Baltimore, and their season finale at Fenway Park on Sept. 28.
Sales for the Sept. 25 game increased 1,186 percent on Wednesday and 270 percent on Thursday, with 98 percent of the sales for that game coming on those two days. The sales for the game at Fenway Park increased 490 percent on Wednesday and 459 percent on Thursday. Before Jeter's announcement the Boston game wasn't even among StubHub's top 50 in sales.
In Jeter's 19-year career, 587 other players have appeared in the field at shortstop, including 65 players who made one appearance at the position. Jeter appeared in 2,544 games -- tops for that stretch. Edgar Renteria (2,116) is the only other player who has appeared in 2,000 games at the position since 1995.
Jeter's 1,238 RBIs are the most for a shortstop during those 19 years -- 27 more than Miguel Tejada, who played in 15 of the seasons. Alex Rodriguez, who appeared at shortstop in 11 of the seasons, is the leader at the position with 344 home runs while playing short since 1995. Tejada is second at 291, and Jeter is third at 251. Jimmy Rollins is fourth on the list at 198.
Jeter's career has been marked by consistency. The only month in his career in which he has a composite batting average below .300 is May, when he has hit .296. He has batted .317 at home and .308 on the road. He has hit .338 against left-handed pitchers and .304 against right-handed pitchers. His average before the All-Star break is .306, and he has hit .319 after the break.
The Astros, however, have not been a good opponent for Jeter. In nine games, he has hit .216, his lowest average against any team. At the other extreme, he has batted .417 against Pittsburgh, .412 against Colorado, .368 against the Mets and .339 against Atlanta. His highest averages against American League teams are .338 against Cleveland, .333 against the Angels and .329 against Texas.
He has hit 256 home runs in his career off 194 pitchers and in 24 ballparks. Sidney Ponson has given up five of his home runs -- the most of any pitcher. Among active pitchers, Ervin Santana has served up four.
In Jeter's first 19 big league seasons, he has had only seven pinch-hit appearances, going 1-for-6 with a walk and two strikeouts. He had one pinch-hit appearance in 1998, 2003 and '09, and two each in '07 and '10.