MLB’s 10 Best Candidates to Reach 3,000 Hits
Today marks the 60th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s 2,000th career hit.
Joltin’ Joe is inarguably one of the greatest hitters in Major League Baseball to fall short of the 3,000 hit mark. DiMaggio lost the opportunity to collect 3,000 big league hits when baseball lost the 1943, 1944, and 1945 seasons to World War II.
In just 13 big league seasons, DiMaggio collected 2,214 hits before retiring at the age of 36.
In celebration of DiMaggio’s 2,000th career hit, let’s take a look at some current big leaguers with a chance to do what Joltin’ Joe never did, join the 3,000 hit club.
10. Hanley Ramirez
Career Hits: 840
Ramirez has a long way to go, but at 26 he is already in his fifth full big league season, and has shown the ability to post some monster batting averages.
What’s most intriguing about Ramirez is that we probably still haven’t seen the best of him. He has averaged 192 hits in each of his first four full big league seasons, and could easily put together a run of four or five straight 200 hit seasons in the coming years.
Ramirez’s biggest obstacle in reaching 3,000 hits certainly isn’t talent, and may actually be his work ethic. If he matures some, and puts in the work in order to become the superstar he should be, he is a good bet to reach 3,000 hits.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 45%
9. Johnny Damon
Bet you didn’t know that Damon sat just over 500 hits away from 3,000. Over the years Damon has always been considered amongst the game's better hitters, but a player with a legit shot at the 3,000 club? I had no idea either.
Before signing with the Tigers this offseason, Damon pondered retirement, but he seems to be in a different place now. This season he has proven he still has plenty in the tank, and it seems increasingly likely that he sticks around for three more seasons to reach 3,000.
But maybe he won’t. It wouldn’t shock anyone if Damon hangs up the cleats following this season, or one of the next two, and falls a couple hundred hits short of the milestone. It likely depends on whether Damon wants to chase 3,000.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 49%
8. Vladimir Guerrero
Career Hits: 2,330
After last season, when Vlad only got into 100 games and posted the lowest batting average of his career, the likelihood of him reaching 3,000 hits seemed slim to none.
However, a change of scenery has proven to be exactly what Guerrero needed. The resurgent slugger has looked like his old (read younger) self. He is hitting .330 and could make a run at 200 hits.
If Guerrero can stay healthy, he would likely reach 3,000 some time in the middle of the 2014 season at the age of 39. He already has moved into the designated hitter role, and will have no trouble finding work as long as he continues to swing the bat well.
Whether or not Guerrero reaches 3,000 hits will very likely come down to whether or not he wants to chase the milestone.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 51%
7. Carl Crawford
Crawford made his debut at just 20, meaning 2010 is the star's eighth full season in the majors. At the ripe young age of 28 Crawford is already closing in on the half way mark to 3,000.
If Crawford puts in another nine or ten seasons, 3,000 is well within reach. Crawford is clearly in the midst of his prime, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he still has a career year or two ahead of him. However, there are some concerns in Crawford’s quest for 3,000.
For one, Crawford possesses tremendous speed, and as he ages and loses a step he won’t collect as many infield hits as he does today.
Furthermore, Crawford is not the type of raw power slugger that usually finds themselves in the designated hitter role late in their career. If an aged Carl Crawford loses the ability to play in the outfield, he may find his career end sooner than he wants.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 55%
6. Joe Mauer
Mauer may one day go down as being amongst the best pure hitters to ever play the game. However, 3,000 hits seems like a must for anyone mentioned in that conversation, and it may not be an easy task for Mauer.
For one, in order to reach 3,000 hits, a move from behind the plate is nearly a must. As a catcher, Mauer simply misses too many games and gets beat up too much to reach the milestones.
Furthermore, if Mauer remains behind the plate, it is unlikely that he will be able to maintain the career longevity necessary to reach 3,000.
Expect Mauer to eventually leave the tools of ignorance behind and make a run at the 3,000 hit club.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 60%
5. Miguel Cabrera
Simply put, Miguel Cabrera is a hits machine. He is already approaching the half way mark to 3,000 hits at 27!
He boasts a career batting average of .312 and has collected at least 177 hits in each of his six full big league seasons. At his current pace he should reach 3,000 in 2019 at the age of only 36.
Cabrera seems like a good bet for 3,000. There is no reason to think he doesn’t have a handful of seasons left as an elite slugger, and several more in the role of aging slugger.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 66%
4. Ichiro Suzuki
I know what you’re thinking. The guy is nearly 900 hits short of 3,000 and is already at the age that many players contemplate retirement. No shot, right?
Wrong. Ichiro is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, as evidenced by his .338 average this season, and there is no reason to think that he can’t he reach the 3,000 milestone as a 40-year old a few seasons from now.
Ichiro has collected 206 or more hits in each of his nine big league seasons, and I think he still has a number of 200 hit seasons left in him. Don’t be surprised if Ichiro is still collecting hits well into his 40s.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 70%
3. Albert Pujols
3,000 hits seems like just another accomplishment to be gained on the way to a Hall of Fame career for King Albert.
Baseball’s best hitter has an incredible .333 career batting average, which will put him nearly two-thirds of the way to 3,000 following the 2010 season, his 10th in the majors.
Pujols still has years of brilliance ahead of him, and should reach 3,000 at some point during the 2016 season when he is 36 years old. Health is the only real obstacle between Albert Pujols and 3,000 hits.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 85%
2. Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod may not own a career batting average like that of Pujols or Cabrera, but the fact that he is in the midst of his 17th season (15th full season) in the big leagues at the age of only 34 explains why A-Rod is already closing in on 3,000.
The future Hall of Famer is a near lock to reach 3,000 hits. There have been no rumors of an early retirement, and A-Rod undeniably has a number of 150 plus hit seasons left in his bat.
The only thing that stands between A-Rod and 3,000 hits is his health. A-Rod has suffered some serious injuries over the past several seasons, and one could argue that his body is in the midst of breaking down. However, it is likely that A-Rod’s body will hold out long enough for him to make 3,000 hits a reality.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 90%
1. Derek Jeter
It’s not a matter of if, but when for the Captain. The Yankee great is quickly closing on what may be the biggest personal accomplishment in a career flooded with success.
Jeter is on pace to become the 28th player ever and the first Yankee to collect 3,000 career hits next season. At just 35, and with a number of big league seasons likely still ahead of him, it would take an act of God to prevent Jeter from reaching the milestone.
It is uncertain what the future holds for Jeter. Are we seeing the end of a great career or will he play into his late 30s? Is he done winning World Series rings, or will he add another one or two to his collection? Will he stay involved in the Yankees organization once he hangs them up, or will he move away from the game?
However, a couple of things are certain. Jeter will reach 3,000 hits, and take that as his crown jewel into the Hall of Fame.
Chance of reaching 3,000: 99%
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