MLB: Top 15 Active Players Most Likely to Join Derek Jeter in 3,000 Hits Club
Jeter became the 28th hitter in history to achieve the monumental accomplishment of 3,000 hits, joining the likes of Roberto Clemente, Ricky Henderson, and Willie Mays.
We won't see another player enter the ranks of the 3,000 hits club this year, but many veterans and fearsome hitters in their own rights could very possibly see hit 3,000 in the next few years. Others, like Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, are still young but have very good shots at reaching the milestone.
To achieve 3,000 hits, you can't just have a few good seasons. You have to maintain production for well over a decade, and establish yourself as a valuable-enough player that teams will still sign you into your mid-30's, involving both longevity and health.
Without further ado, let's take a look at 15 players who could very well reach 3,000 hits in their major league career.
No. 15: David Wright, New York Mets
Career Hits: 1182
At 28 years old, Wright is one of the youngest players on this list. But in less than seven full seasons, Wright has established himself as one of the top third basemen and a player who can be the focal point of an offense well into his 30's.
In six full seasons, Wright has a .302 batting average with about 180 hits per season. That is an impressive number which he has been able to sustain, and if he can continue hitting at this pace it'll take him about ten years, give or take a year due to injuries.
Wright has been able to stay healthy throughout his career, although he has had back troubles keeping him sidelined for a good chunk of 2011. If he can avoid battling nagging injuries with that back as he approaches his late 30's, Wright could very well find himself with 3,000 career hits.
No. 14: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
Career Hits: 2565
Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones has been a Brave for about as long as I've been alive. With 2,565 hits, he's right at the top of the active hits leaders list, and is only 435 hits away.
The problem is, he's 39 and has been fading since 2009. This year, he's been able to stay healthy, but recently landed on the DL with knee surgery scheduled.
That doesn't bode well for his future, and Jones will need at least three solid seasons as at least a platoon-third baseman to have a shot.
It's not out of the question given Jones' status as a future Hall-of-Famer that the Braves will help him reach that milestone, but does he have enough left in the tank in the twilight of his career?
No. 13: Michael Young, Texas Rangers
Age: 34 (Close to 35)
Career Hits: 1963
Michael Young has been a lifetime Texas Ranger, and although he doesn't field much anymore he's been productive as the Rangers' DH.
Now that he's entering his mid 30's Young hasn't really showed signed of slowing down, and is on pace for over 200 hits as he did in the prime of his career.
With over 1,000 hits left, Young will cut it close if he is to reach 3,000 hits. It'll probably take him to about 41 years of age, so the Rangers or another team would have to be willing to keep him around, but he has been able to stay healthy for his career which will help him.
No. 12: Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles Angels
Career Hits: 2343
Bobby Abreu is one of the more underrated players in the game, but with over 2,300 hits in his career, he could be in the discussion for being a future hall-of-famer.
Abreu has really been largely forgotten by the East Coast since he left Philadelphia and New York. He's also seen a decline in his numbers, particularly his hits.
For a guy who has hit above .300 for a large portion of his career, Abreu hit just .255 last year with 146 hits. Assuming he has about 2400 hits by the end of this season, he would need to average 150 hits for four more years to have a shot.
Abreu has been able to stay healthy, but I have a tough time seeing Abreu around for another four seasons. He will end his career very close, though.
No. 11: Vladimir Guerrero, Baltimore Orioles
Vlad has been one of the top hitters in the game since his days with the Montreal Expos, and at 36 years of age, he still refuses to go away.
Last year, Guerrero continued to put up solid numbers, collecting 178 hits with 27 home runs for a .300 batting average. This year, he's still been decent, with 86 hits halfway through the season.
If he can get close to 400 hits left by the end of this season, I believe Vlad could be at the 3,000 hits threshold with three decent seasons by 39 years of age.
It's a stretch, and my biggest issue is that he's already entering that period where he's starting to bounce around teams on one year tenders, while a guy like Chipper Jones is still with his career team that is committed to keeping him around.
According to the Bill James Handbook of 2011 providing yearly projections for MLB players, Vlad has about a 44 percent chance of reaching 3,000 hits.
No. 10: Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
Age: 32 (33 in November)
Career Hits: 1,806
10 fingers for number 10 in our countdown.
Rollins is pretty young to have 1,806 hits already, and is on his way to having a decent season after missing half of last year due to injuries.
The injuries have gotten to him a little bit (not as much as his DP mate Chase Utley) but they don't appear to be a major issue going forward.
Rollins will probably be close to 39 or 40 if he's still around by then, but given that he's been a career Philly, I'd bet they keep him around for another several years.
When healthy, Rollins has averaged 180 hits per full season, and if he can keep that up for another five seasons, he will be within striking range of the 3,000 hits club.
No. 9: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
Career Hits: 1,985
Having turned 32 just a couple of months ago, Beltre has already matched the hits total of fellow Rangers teammate Michael Young.
With a resurgent couple of years following being stuck in Safeco Field for several years, Beltre has proven that he can be supremely productive, as evidenced by his All-Star selections and .321 BA last year for the Red Sox.
Projecting close to 900 hits left for Beltre after this season, I'm confident that he could achieve that in about six seasons.
Beltre has never been the star of an offense (close to it when he was in Seattle), but if he can hang around until he's 38 with one-year deals, he has a good shot of reaching 3,000 hits.
Beltre has also been able to stay on the field for much of his career, so the injuries have not impacted him (however, we will see how the mid 30's treats him).
The Bill James Handbook gives Beltre a 29 percent chance of achieving 3,000 hits.
No. 8: Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox
Crawford was a stud with the Tampa Bay Rays back to their Devil Ray days. He signed with the rival Red Sox this past offseason, and has been under-performing and also was nicked up with a bad hammy.
However, he's entering the prime of his career and with less than 1,400 hits after this season, you could realistically see Crawford up there at the threshold of 3,000 hits by age 38.
Like Beltre, Crawford isn't the star of an offense, but he's very good. Good enough to get to the late 30's if he can stay healthy.
Bill James' Handbook gives Crawford a 30 percent chance of reaching 3,000 hits. He's showed enough in his young-ish career for people to believe he has a legitimate shot.
No. 7: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
Ichiro has had 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons since he joined the MLB. You know who else has done that?
What Ichiro has done in just 10 years is truly remarkable, and although he's having a down year, he'll still probably find a way to get his 200 hits. Ichiro is very consistent in his preparation and approach, and I'm confident he will end up close to what his career average dictates.
Ichiro will have about 550 hits to go after this season, and even if he doesn't average 200 hits per year over that stretch, he'll still have it in about three seasons.
Ichiro would be 40 at that point, but given the impeccable shape he strives to keep his body in, that's more like 35 for the average baseball player.
Ichiro definitely has a great shot at 3,000 hits, which would make him a lock for the Hall of Fame.
If he does, combined with his 1,278 hits in Japan, he would have 4,278 career hits. That's more than all-time hits leader Pete Rose.
No. 6: Ivan Rodriguez, Washington Nationals
Pudge Rodriguez is showing his age, and hasn't played more than 130 games (pretty standard for a catcher) since 2006.
He also hasn't had more than 140 hits since then, and really has been relegated to sidekick status as Wilson Ramos has taken over as the primary catcher.
Pudge still has a couple years to get to 3,000 hits, and I'm pretty confident he can do it, but he'll have to sign on as a platoon-type catcher for a team with positional need for a few more years if he want to have a good shot at the 3,000 hit club.
Maybe the Rangers will take him back or something, but he'll definitely have to gut out the last couple of hundred. So close, yet so far away.
No. 5: Robinson Canó, New York Yankees
Age: 28 (29 in October)
Cano is absolutely ready to step onto scene as the best second baseman in the majors, as he has already proven with several All-Star honors.
Cano has a good chance of putting up a lot of 200-hit seasons, and is right where fellow Yankee Derek Jeter was when he was in his late 20's.
This is more about predicting the next top superstars, and Cano is right there ready to take the reins from Jeter.
I predict that Cano will be a Yankee for life, and will get hit number 3,000 in pinstripes like Jeter did.
No. 4: Johnny Damon, Tampa Bay Rays
At age 37, Johnny Damon is still hitting and showing he can produce consistently. This season, he's hit nine home runs and 91 hits for a .280 BA.
It's reasonable to assume Damon reaches 2750, with just 250 left. I'm sure that there will be teams willing to give him a job for another couple of years, and if he can just hit 125 hits per season, he'll be in.
Damon is pretty much set in my opinion.
No. 3: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
At just 28, Miguel Cabrera has already accrued 1,500 hits, thanks to his early entry into the majors at just the age of 20.
Regardless, Cabrera has established himself as one of the top first basemen in the game, and averages about 190 hits per season.
Even if that were to drop to 180 when he leaves his prime, he is on pace to reach 3,000 hits by age 36. That would make him one of the youngest ever to reach the milestone, and ensure him of Hall of Fame status.
There's really nothing more to say. If the personal issues don't hinder him, Cabrera is a lock for 3,000 hits.
Can we just say it all already? MC3K?
No. 2: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Albert Pujols has been arguably the best hitter in the game, and his numbers speak of his consistency.
Pujols has put up 180+ hit seasons every year, and should be on pace this year if he doesn't suffer another injury.
Pujols should reach 3,000 hits by 36 years of age with relative ease, meaning if he doesn't pull a freak retirement or something he's virtually a lock.
Ready for another one?
No. 1: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
This is not a question of if, it's a question of when.
A-Rod won't get it this year, but he'll probably reach 3,000 hits by the end of next season.
Will it be as magical as Jeter's 3,000th?
Maybe if it's a grand slam, but outside—and even inside—of New York, no one really likes him. At least people respected Jeter and his class, but A-Rod's a jerk.
It'll still be a historical moment, though. A-Rod has had an amazing career and will add 3,000 hits to his Hall of Fame resume.