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Derek Jeter, Miami Marlins

Derek Jeter: Ranking the Top 5 moments of the legend’s career

Derek Jeter is headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The lifetime New York Yankees captain was one of the most iconic players in baseball for nearly two decades, and this summer he will be forever immortalized in Cooperstown alongside other legends of the game.

Jeter provided baseball fans with some of the most indelible moments in sports over the years, and he will go down as one of the greatest players in Yankees history.

But what are the images or scenes that stand above the rest? Here are the top five moments of Jeter’s career.

5. The jump-throw

The detractors will argue Jeter was never the best defensive shortstop of his era.

Indeed, Jeter was worth -8.3 dWAR, according to Baseball Reference, and he finished his career with a whopping -152 defensive runs saved and a -66.1 ultimate zone rating, according to FanGraphs.

Still, No. 2 made some of the most iconic defensive plays in baseball history. This one is particularly resonant because it inspired a generation of ballplayers and was arguably popularized by Jeter himself.

The Yankees squared off against the Cleveland Indians in the 1998 ALCS, and Jeter would make his mark on Game 1 of the series. Indians outfielder Travis Fryman hit a grounder into the hole, forcing Jeter to range to his right and field the ball on the backhand. He promptly jumped into the air and threw a laser to first base to beat the runner:

This play has become personified by the likes of Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons in today’s game, and it is a tremendous feat of athleticism and arm strength.

Perhaps it is appropriate Jeter ended up signing a shoe deal with Jordan Brand.

4. Passing Lou Gehrig on Yankee hit list

The Yankees are arguably the most famous franchise in MLB history. But, as many Hall of Fame players and legendary icons that have donned the pinstripes, they never had a member of the 3,000-hit club. More on this later.

Gehrig is one of the more revered players in the annals of the game, from his tremendous achievements on the field to his battle with ALS. So it was a big deal when Derek Jeter had the opportunity to pass him to become the Yankees’ all-time hit leader.

That moment came on Sept. 11, 2009 against the Baltimore Orioles:

Jeter’s teammates streamed out of the dugout, and the crowd certainly acknowledged the magnitude of the achievement as they rose to their feet.

Fittingly, Jeter and the Yankees would cap off the 2009 season with a World Series win.

3. The Flip

We have already covered Jeter’s defensive deficiencies at length. But as the No. 5 moment suggests, “The Captain” came up with the big plays in the biggest moments.

The Yankees engaged in a dogfight with the Oakland Athletics in the 2001 ALDS in what would turn into a five-game series, but the defining play came in Game 3.

New York led 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning when Athletics outfielder Terrence Long stepped to the plate after a two-out single by fellow Oakland outfielder Jeremy Giambi.

Long ripped Mike Mussina’s 2-2 offering into the right field corner, and Giambi took off around the bases. The throw from right fielder Shane Spencer missed the cutoff man, which otherwise would have allowed Giambi to score the tying run.

But Derek Jeter came flying out of nowhere to intercept the throw, subsequently shoveling the ball to catcher Jorge Posada for the final out of the inning:

Truly one of the most spectacular and instinctive plays ever made by a shortstop.

2. 3,000

As previously noted, Derek Jeter became the Yankees’ all-time hit leader in 2009. But the march to 3,000 hits proved to be long and arduous.

Jeter struggled with injuries in 2011, and he went to the Disabled List in June. The chase was back on once Jeter returned in July, though few could have predicted such a tremendous occasion for No. 3,000 itself.

The Yankees squared off against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 9 of that 2011 season, and Jeter would have the chance to join the 3,000-hit club against star left-hander David Price. He did so in style:

What a phenomenal way to essentially cement a Hall of Fame resume.

1. Storybook ending

Does it get any better than getting a walk-off hit in your final game at Yankee Stadium?

Derek Jeter was the face of the franchise for nearly 20 years, so it was only right he drove home the winning run in his last appearance in front of the New York crowd:

Hollywood’s best could not write a better ending than that one.