OTD: 10 years ago, Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th hit. Who's next in line for the 3k Club?
As a young fan, a Yankee fan, Derek Jeter was the epitome of awesomeness. He was just Mr.Cool. From his dating lineup to how he carried himself, and leading the Yankees dynasty to win five World Series, No. 2 will always be my favorite player. Bias aside, the moment where he notched his 3,000th hit was still one of the coolest things to watch growing up. Michael Kay perfectly captured the moment, "History with an exclamation point!". It was only fitting that The Captain would seal the deal with a home run and go 5-5 on the day in front of a home crowd.
Reflecting back on that 3,000th hit, thinking about that type of accomplishment is mind-boggling. Baseball-Reference created a report back in 2017 to analyze the standard batting of a player. In the data, they concluded that an average player would get about 600 plate appearances in a season, with around 536 at-bats. From there, they predicted a traditional BA/OBP/SLG/OPS line of .271/.343/.464/.807. That equates to about 146 hits with a multitude of stats including 23 homers and 117 strikeouts. So taking that info, 146 hits per season, it would take the average player 20.5 seasons to hit 3,000 hits.
Baseball Almanac states there have been 19,861 who have played in Major League Baseball. Only 169 of those players have played in 20+ seasons. currently, there are 32 players who have accomplished hitting 3,000 hits or more. This is no common occurrence clearly. The most recent player to enter into the 3,000th hit club was Albert Pujols, who bopped a single on May 4th, 2018 while playing for the Angels.
In this century, the list only contains nine players.
- Cal Ripken Jr. (3,184) - April 15th, 2000 - Baltimore Orioles
- Rickey Henderson (3,055) - October 7th, 2001 - San Diego Padres
- Rafael Palmeiro (3,020) - July 15th, 2005 - Baltimore Orioles
- Craig Biggio (3,060) - June 28th, 2007 - Houston Astros
- Derek Jeter (3,465) - July 9th, 2011 - New York Yankees
- Alex Rodriguez (3,115) - June 19th, 2015 - New York Yankees
- Ichiro Suzuki (3,089) - August 7th, 2016 - Miami Marlins
- Adrian Beltre (3,166) - July 30th, 2017 - Texas Rangers
- Albert Pujols (3,279) - May 4th, 2018 - Los Angeles Angels
So who is next on reaching this milestone?
Photo: Jim McIssac | Newsday
According to baseball reference, there are only three players who currently sit at over 2,000 hits.
- Miguel Cabrera (2,926)
- Robinson Cano (2,624)
- Yadier Molina (2,062)
Yadier Molina is 38 years old and just recently caught his 2,000th game, which is a phenomenal accomplishment. The most hits he ever had in a season were 164 back in 2016. If he played at a rate of 100 hits a season, he would reach this feat in 2030-2031. He signed a one-year deal to return to the Cardinals for this season, but I do know how much longer he will be around.
Robinson Cano is currently out for the year on a suspension for a PED positive test, his second one in his career. Currently, he is on the "Mets" roster, but he signed a 10 year, $240M contract with the Mariners back in 2013. If he does return to the Mets, which would be surprising, he would have two seasons to collect 376 hits. That's 188 hits a year. He has collected over 188 hits 7 times in his 16-year career, with the most recent being 2016 (195). So you can chalk this one up as a maybe.
The most probable candidate currently is Miguel Cabrera. He needs a mere 74 hits to accomplish this feat. He currently has 60 on the year, with a little over half a season to go. In 2019 he had 139 hits total, which if he matches that mark, would surpass the total he needs. If it doesn't happen this year, let's hope he can stick around long enough for him to add this club to his impressive resume.
Now looking at the list of active MLB hit leaders, the youngest guy on the list is none other than Mike Trout.
Before the 2020 season, Trout had 8 straight seasons with 120+ hits. Arguably one of the best players in the modern era, he currently has found himself unraveled with injuries, unfortunately. Trout does get walked a lot, which could also hinder his ability to reaching 3k. If he averages between 165 and 170 hits a year until 2030, he'll snag No. 3,000 on the 19th anniversary of his big league debut.
The next list of players has the potential, but only if they remain on pace. The age is on their side, but they would need to produce at a high level for multiple years.
- Starlin Castro (1,716)
- Jose Altuve (1,696)
- Freddie Freeman (1,610)
Altuve, although a noted cheater at this point, is a historically efficient hitter. He led the AL in hits four straight seasons from 2014 to 2017, eclipsing 200 hits in each season. He has had seven seasons with at least 167 hits. He is currently very much on pace to accomplish this. The main adversary of Starlin Castro’s attempt to get to 3,000 hits is the batting average. Castro has never batted higher than .307, and he only has three seasons of batting .300. Freddie Freeman joins Elvis Andrus, Eric Hosmer, and Giancarlo Stanton have all reached 1,000 hits before age 30. The others have slowed down their production, where Freeman would need to remain at that pace.
Some dark horse candidates could include DJ LeMaieu (1,383), Manny Machado (1,347), Nolan Arenado (1,294), Bryce Harper (1,188), and Xander Bogaerts (1,183). They have the perfect combination of age and production on their side but would need to stay persistent.
With the recent youth boom occurring in the league, guys like Vladmir Guerro Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., and Juan Soto all have the potential to eclipse that with the pace they are currently batting. In wrapping this up, like mentioned above, it would take 20.5 seasons on a 146 hit per season pace to accomplish 3,000. 15 if someone was on a 200 hit pace. It is an astronomical number, which is why only a few have done it. Let's hope Miggy is next in line!