Can Derek Jeter become the first unanimous inductee into Baseball's Hall of Fame?
Just three years ago, no one received the privilege of induction into the 2013 class, after each candidate failed to reach the minimum 75% voting threshold for entry.
This year, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza made up the entire Hall of Fame class of 2016, bringing with them a combined total of 1,057 career home runs and 25 All-Star Game appearances.
One point of discussion that arose once the final ballot entries were tallied was the record-breaking 99.3% approval rating that Ken Griffey Jr. received from this year's voters. He earned 437 of the 440 total votes cast, leaving many to question what reason those three particular voters had to leave Griffey off their ballots.
Though "The Kid" may have missed out on unanimous selection to Cooperstown, the possibility of a player receiving the never-before-done honor is still up in the air. Does former Yankees captain and first-ballot Hall of Fame lock Derek Jeter have a chance to be the first?
Per the official voting rules page on the BBWAA website, "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."
Are there many other baseball players in history who meet and exceed every one of those criteria than former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter?
The Captain was as decorated a player as any during his two decades in the Majors. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1996, was named to 14 All-Star games, earned five Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers and helped the Yankees win five World Series titles during his career, taking home Series MVP honors in 2000.
Jeter batted at least .290 in 16 of his 20 MLB seasons, and led the Majors with 216 hits at the age of 38 during the 2012 season, 13 years after his first time doing so in 1999 when he slashed a career-best .349/.438/.552 with 219 base hits.
Off the field, Jeter has accomplished just as much with his Turn 2 Foundation, a charitable organization he founded as a rookie in 1996 to "to create outlets that promote and reward academic excellence, leadership development and positive behavior" as well as "support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol."
Jeter will become eligible for the Hall of Fame on the 2020 ballot, following behind the eligibility dates of fellow Yankees Core Four teammates Jorge Posada (2017), Andy Pettitte (2019) and Mariano Rivera (2019).
If Posada, Pettitte and Rivera all fell short of the 75% voting mark before the 2020 ballot, there's a slim chance that the Core Four could be inducted together in the same Hall of Fame ceremony. However, the likelihood of Rivera, baseball's greatest-ever closer, not earning induction in his first year on the ticket is extremely low, but the remote possibility still exists.
Though no member of the Core Four was any more instrumental to the Yankees' success all those years, The Captain stood tall as an iconic athlete and personality in the Big Apple for more than 20 years. He was applauded across the country by opposing teams and fans during his farewell season in 2014, and is considered among the greatest shortstops in the history of the game.
When comparing Jeter to the top-three vote-getting shortstops in history, Cal Ripken Jr. (98.53%), Honus Wagner (95.13%) and Ozzie Smith (91.74%), Jeter's numbers and accomplishments stand up to the Hall of Fame juxtaposition.
Jeter retired with a .310 career average, more than 30 points higher than both Ripken (.276) and Smith (.262), won two more World Series rings than all three players combined and led MLB in hits the same number of times (2) as Wagner and Ripken combined (1 apiece).
It's tough to say whether or not the BBWAA voters will make Jeter the first and only unanimous selection for the Hall four years from now. It would seem that after Ken Griffey Jr. - one of the most charismatic, electrifying, statistically dominant and steroid-free baseball players of all time - failed to make it to Cooperstown with 100% approval, almost no one has a chance.
But unlike Griffey, Jeter won on the grandest stage over and over and over again, leading a historically dominant Yankees club through one of baseball's most competitive eras.
Jeter was bigger than baseball, a model athlete and player, a consistent leader and performer on and off the field and the Captain of professional sports' most successful franchise.
Griffey may have missed out on a 100% score by the skin of his teeth, but Derek Jeter certainly has a chance to become the first to ever achieve the unprecedented feat of Hall of Fame unanimity.