Derek Jeter ties Willie Mays on the all-time hits list

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Obviously they’re two different kinds of players, but it’s kind of cool to see Derek Jeter tie Willie Mays on the career hits list.

Number 3,283 came on a seventh inning RBI single last night during the Yankees 2-0 win over Boston.  It was his 195th hit of the year, which leads the majors. So, bone bruise in his ankle notwithstanding, he’s not just limping past people on the all-time hits list.

Jeter and Mays are tied for 10th* all time. Getting higher up the chart will have to wait until next year, however, as Eddie Collins stands 32 hits ahead, while the Yankees have 19 games to go.  Assuming a healthy and productive 2013, however, Jeter could pass not just Collins, but Paul Molitor, Carl Yastrzemski, and Honus Wagner.

If he wants to move higher, he’ll either need a new contract that takes him into 2014 or else he’ll need to exercise his 2014 player option and be still good enough to get regular playing time. If that happens, there lies Tris Speaker at fourth place and Stan Musial at third.

That seems like a reasonably possible place for Jeter to top out, leaving only Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose ahead of him. Then again, no one really figured Jeter would have a 200-hit season at age 38 either, so who the hell knows how far he’ll go?

*Fun times: when I first wrote this early this morning I had Jeter and Mays at 11th. Why? Because when you go to Baseball-Reference.com and look at the hits leaders, that’s where they are, and dammit, as an Internety baseball writer, Baseball-Reference.com is the word of God.

However, I did not take into account Cap Anson. Baseball-Reference.com lists him as sixth all time on the hits list with 3,435 hits.  But they’re alone in this, however. Official statistics of Major League Baseball, the Elias Sports Bureau and the like don’t include Anson’s National Association totals, obtained in the first four years of his career in the 1870s. That’s over 400 hits he’s docked, putting him down in Wade Boggs/Rafael Palmiero land.  I spoke with Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com about it this morning, and he explained to me that while scholarly and research consensus on the matter consider the National Association to be every bit as much a major league as the National League was back in the day, Major League Baseball disagrees.

Should we feel bad for Major League Baseball’s refusal to recognize all of Cap Anson’s hits? Nope! And not because I have any insight into why his National Association hits should or should not be discounted. Rather, it’s because he was also a total jackwagon racist scumbag who bore large responsibility for baseball’s segregation, and if it meant docking him 3,000 more hits I’d do it in a second because he helped cost America the chance to see Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and those guys play against Major Leaguers on a regular basis in their primes.

But I suppose that gets us rather far afield of statistics.

Agent: Nick Senzel’s reassigment “egregious case of service time manipulation”

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Reds prospect Nick Senzel is ready for the majors. Although he battled injuries, the 23-year-old performed well with Triple-A Louisville last season, batting .310/.378/.509 with 20 extra-base hits, 25 RBI, 23 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 193 plate appearances. Senzel has also performed well this spring, batting .308 across 39 at-bats.

The Reds, however, announced on Friday that Senzel was among a handful of players reassigned to minor league camp. Senzel was drafted as a third baseman, began playing second base last year, and had been playing in center field during spring training. The common thought is that the Reds, who have built a competitive roster, will keep Senzel at Triple-A to begin the season and call him up right after the club secures an extra year of contractual control.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Senzel’s agent Joel Wolfe calls Senzel’s reassignment an “egregious case of service time manipulation.” The full quote:

I don’t believe I’ve ever made public statements on this issue in my career, but I feel compelled to do so in this case where it feels like a simply egregious case of service time manipulation.

We are well aware of the mandate from ownership for the Reds to win this year — and this seems to fly in the face of it. The NL Central was decided by one game last year. Every game matters. This is a shortsighted move that may be frugal now but could cost them dearly later.

Nick Senzel is not a young prospect. He’s a major league-ready impact-type player. He has done everything they’ve asked this spring, including working hard to become a major league center fielder.

Nick takes pride in wearing the Reds uniform. He appreciates how much support he’s received from Reds fans. He’s going to go to Triple-A and prove every day he belongs in MLB.

We have covered the service time manipulation issue pretty extensively here, so Wolfe’s statement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Prior to an injury, the Blue Jays were going to undeservingly stuff Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. — baseball’s No. 1 prospect — at Triple-A for the first two weeks or so of the season. The White Sox were going to do the same with Eloy Jiménez before using their leverage to nudge him into inking an extension. The Braves toyed with Ronald Acuña Jr.’s playing time last year. Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco filed respective grievances against the Cubs and Phillies for service time manipulation several years ago.

Team executives don’t outright admit to gaming a prospect’s service time to gain that extra year of control because that’s how one loses a grievance. They dance around the topic by making a nebulous claim, typically about the player’s defense needing to be worked on at Triple-A. That’s what the Cubs said about Bryant, and it’s what the Jays said about Guerrero. It’s a subjective enough evaluation that it can’t be falsified. It’s why the grievances that have been filed over this have fizzled out and it’s why more and more teams have brazenly joined the service time manipulation bandwagon.

Senzel’s case is, admittedly, a bit more murky. Though he performed well this spring, Scott Schebler has outperformed him, batting .379 with five extra-base hits and 11 walks in roughly 40 trips to the plate. The starting spot in right field is taken by Yasiel Puig and left field is taken by Jesse Winker. Schebler has ostensibly earned the starting job in center. I can’t imagine Wolfe having a compelling case if he were to file a grievance on Senzel’s behalf.

That being said, it is important that agents (and the MLBPA) speak out about this when they can. Senzel’s case may not be open-and-shut, but bringing service time manipulation into the public consciousness will have a lasting impact ahead of the December 2021 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. Holding team executives publicly accountable may make them less willing to manipulate their players’ service time going forward, as it may sour what could otherwise be a terrific relationship between team and player. Service time manipulation is an important piece of the labor puzzle and those on the players’ side have to seize whatever they can to potentially gain leverage. Awareness leads to solidarity.