MLB's most productive jersey numbers

Brandon Loving

By the time Derek Jeter retired after the 2014 season, he was everywhere. The classic, white, pinstriped No. 2 Yankees jersey he made famous was the best-selling jersey in all of MLB.

One prominent baseball merchandiser told ESPN that Jeter's shirt was in fact the best-selling MLB jersey of all-time. The love of Jeter didn't end when he stopped playing, either, as he remained atop most lists of baseball's most recognizable stars for years after he retired.

All of that barely scratches the surface when it comes to putting the influence of No. 2 into context. Over the course of his unparalleled 20-year career with the Yankees, Jeter accumulated 3,465 hits, 14 All-Star appearances, five World Series titles and legions of fans of all ages. Some of those Captain fans are now outstanding MLB players themselves.

Using Data gathered from baseball-reference.com and MLB.com, ESPN evaluated the WAR (wins above replacement) of every MLB player from 2005 (halfway through Jeter's career) to 2021 to determine which jersey numbers were most productive.

Click here to see the stories of those No. 2's and of the players who currently wear the only other four numbers to rank in the top 10 of average and total WAR and be worn by at least 100 players from 2005 to 2021.

No. 2: Jeter's Influence

Average rank: 1 | Total WAR: 343.4 | Average WAR: 3.67 | Total players: 148

After a few flirtations with uniform numbers, the practice of putting them on player jerseys began in earnest with the 1929 Yankees and they have been a part of baseball ever since. At first, players wore numbers that corresponded with their place in the batting order, which is why Babe Ruth wore No. 3 and Lou Gehrig No. 4. The first No. 2 was also a Yankee shortstop -- Mark Koenig, a member of the franchise's famed 1927 club.

Koenig had nothing to do with Jeter ending up as a No.2-wearing Yankees' shortstop seven decades later, but Jeter has a lot to do with the proliferation of high-level No. 2s in the game since his arrival. A number of the game's top infielders have cited Jeter as an influence and a reason why they wear the number they wear. There is even a shortstop who debuted for Boston this season whose parents honored Jeter in a more profound way. That rookie's name is Jeter Downs, and, yes, he's named after the Captain.

Check out the entire story here.