Shortstop = Derek Jeter
Some years ago I got into a chat with Derek Jeter about playing shortstop. I mentioned to him that in doing some research for a story I was doing on Luis Aparicio, the Hall of Famer, I discovered that he only played shortstop in the major leagues. All 2,583 games of “Little Looie’s” career were at that position, which I thought was pretty interesting.
So did Jeter. We had been talking around the time Cal Ripken Jr. had moved from shortstop to third base about 15 years ago. We talked about how injuries forced players such as Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, two other Hall of Famers, to move off shortstop, to first base and center field, respectively.
“I’d like to try to play every game I’m in the field at shortstop,” DJ said. “It’s really the only position I know. If I’m good enough, I can do it.”
It is fair to say that Jeter has been good enough. He was in the lineup as the designated hitter Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Barring his going into the field later in the game, DJ will have to wait until Friday night to match what Aparicio did. It would be Jeter’s 2,583rd game at shortstop, which would tie Aparicio for second on the all-time list of games played at that position. It will be an appropriate place to do it considering that Aparicio played for the White Sox in 10 of his 18 major-league seasons. He also spent five years with the Orioles and three with the Red Sox.
And just like Aparicio, Jeter has played only shortstop whenever he has been on the field. Jeter has been a designated hitter in 58 games but has played no other position in the field. The DH rule went into effect in 1973, which was Aparicio’s last season in the majors, but he was never a DH that year.
The record for career games at shortstop is held by Omar Vizquel with 2,709. He played several other positions, however, in his major-league total of 2,940. Vizquel played in 150 games at third base, 76 at second base, three at first base, one in left field and one in right field.
Since this is Jeter’s final season in the majors, he cannot catch Vizquel. The Captain is 127 games behind Vizquel. The Yankees have 116 games remaining in the season. But Jeter will end up with the distinction that for 40 years belonged to Luis Aparicio as the career shortstop.