Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit has come and gone, and now that the media circus that surrounded the milestone has subsided, we can sit back and appreciate the magnitude of the accomplishment.
Only 28 men in the history of this great game have ever reached the 3,000-hit plateau, and all but three—Jeter, Pete Rose and Rafael Palmeiro—are enshrined in Cooperstown.
That got us here at Bleacher Report thinking: Just what does it take to reach 3,000 hits?
Is there some sort of magic formula that helps a player become a model of consistency, like Wade Boggs' ridiculous daily routines, or can it only be done with a certain level of natural born talent?
The easy consensus is that you have to be a "pure" hitter. There's that perfect blend of natural talent, work ethic, and consistency that results in the creation of a baseball legend.
Of course, that theory had me wanting to expand the parameters of the list a bit. Instead of wondering what it takes to reach 3,000 hits, I began wondering just who the 40 greatest "pure" hitters in the history of the sport were.
To understand the list, however, it will be important to understand what qualifies as a "pure" hitter.
In 2009, Joe Posnanski, who was twice awarded as the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press and currently writes for Sports Illustrated, published a list of the 10 best "pure hitters" in baseball, according to his own personal opinion.
While I may agree or disagree with the placement of some of the names on his list, he did a fine job of establishing the criteria for what a "pure" hitter should be. According to Posnanski, a pure hitter is someone who:
- Has a high batting average
- Does not strike out often
- Has the ability to hit the ball hard, night in and night out
Using those criteria, which are widely accepted to establish a pure hitter, I decided to expand the list from 10 to 40. Of course, with a bigger list comes a more severe set of criteria.
While I've used the skeleton of Posnanski's guidelines as a rule of thumb, I've also set up a number of other parameters, which are as follows. To qualify, a hitter must have:
- played in the Major Leagues for a minimum of 10 seasons
- had fewer than 2,000 strikeouts over the course of his career
- had a career batting average of no lower than .290
With those criteria added, along with the ones that Posnanski used in his piece, I assembled a list of some legendary names, that established themselves by hitting.
The following list are the 40 greatest pure hitters in the history of baseball, according to myself.