Who will join Derek Jeter next in the 3000 hit club?
It has long been said that reaching 3000 hits in the Major Leagues guarantees you entry into the Hall of Fame. Of course that isn’t exactly true, as 28 hitters in the history of the game have reached the milestone, but only twenty four members are currently in the Hall.
To be fair, two of the clubs members aren’t eligible for voting yet. Eligibility requires that a player be retired for five seasons, or deceased for at least six months, which disqualifies Craig Biggio, who will be eligible for the next Hall of Fame election in 2013, and Derek Jeter, who is still playing.
When eligible, Jeter is an absolute first ballot hall of famer, and Biggio will likely get in, but probably not on the first try.
The other two who are part of the club but not in the Hall of Fame are two distinctive cases that have been well chronicled.
Rafael Palmeiro, who is eligible for Hall of Fame voting, hasn’t received the necessary amount of votes largely because he upset voters when adamantly declaring in front of congress that he did not use steroids, and then subsequently tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.
Pete Rose is the other member of the 3000 hit club who is not in the Hall, and has not been eligible for voting since he was declared permanently ineligible by then Commissioner Bart Giamatti after he was caught betting on baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds.
Other than the two unique circumstances that are currently keeping Palmeiro and Rose out of
the Hall, so far it’s been a pretty sure bet that if you reach 3000 hits, you’ve punched your ticket to the Hall.
That might be changing, as only two of the active five players who could reach 3000 hits in the next three years are surefire hall of famers. The other three could still be on the bubble, even if they do reach the vaulted milestone.
Alex Rodriguez is quickly approaching 3000 hits
Barring injury, Alex Rodriguez will reach 3000 hits before the All-Star break next year. Rodriguez currently has 2827 hits, which is third among all active players, but his 636 home runs, which leads all active players and is currently fifth all-time, will definitely punch his ticket.
Rodriguez should be a first ballot hall of Famer, but the fact he admitted he used performance enhancing drugs for part of his career might persuade some of the writers to make him wait a year or two before they vote him in.
Ichiro already has 3763 hits in his professional career
Ichiro Suzuki currently has 2485 hits in his big league career, and if he stays on his current pace of 177 hits this year, he will end the year with 2605. If Ichiro averages 160 hits a year, well below his career average, he will reach 3000 hits before the All-Star break in 2015.
The one caveat is that Ichiro will need to play until he's 41 if he wants to accomplish the feat, but very few people doubt that he could complete the task if he so chooses.
Ichiro had already racked up 1278 hits in Japan before bringing his talents to the United States in 2001. Combine that with ten consecutive all-star appearances, ten consecutive gold gloves, three silver slugger awards, and whatever number of hits he ends up with from here on out, he’s a first ballot hall of famer.
Omar Vizquel is in his 24th season in the Majors
Omar Vizquel’s first season in the big leagues was in 1989 for the Seattle Mariners. Now in his 24th year in the Majors, Vizquel is sitting just 150 hits away from number 3000, currently second among all active players.
The problem is, at 45 years old, his time is running out fast. With just 42 hits in limited time with the Chicago White Sox in 2011, Vizquel has only nine hits in 38 at bats with the Toronto Blue Jays this year.
Even though his hitting has slowed down, his fielding remains above average, and teams might continue to keep a guy with his experience around long enough to hit number 3000.
Johnny Damon is only hitting .171 with the Indians this year
Johnny Damon is 263 hits shy of number 3000. Last year for the Tampa Bay Rays, Damon batted .261 recording 152 hits. At the pace, Damon would’ve hit number 3000 around the end of next season, but so far this season, he has struggled.
Currently batting .171 in 23 games since the Cleveland Indians picked him up, Damon seems like at 38 years old, Father Time may have caught up too quick.
Still, if Damon can find his stroke, and average even a third less than what he’s been able to do over the last six seasons, he will make it sometime in the 2014 season at the age of 40.
Vladamir Guerrero is 37 years old with 2590 hits.
Vladamir Guerrero, once known as one of the best five-tool players in the game, is sitting at 2590 hits for his career.
Just one year removed from a 163 hit season with the Baltimore Orioles and two years removed from 178 hits and a Silver Slugger Award with the Texas Rangers, Guerrero is currently playing in the minor leagues for the Toronto Blue Jays.
At 37 years old, his pace could slow considerably but he could still reach the magic number before the 2015 All-Star break.
Albert Pujols is currently on pace for 159 hits this year.
For good measure:
Finally, not on pace to reach 3000 in the next three years (hence not in our original five), but clearly on his way, Albert Pujols will make the 3000 club within the next six years. Even this year, which has seen him get off to an awful start, he is still on pace for 159 hits, and he's just beginning to find his stroke.
At 32 years old and barring any major injury, Pujols will not only reach 3000 hits, but he has a great shot at joining Hank Aaron, and likely Alex Rodriguez, as the only three players in the history of the game with 3000 hits and 700 home runs.