Cold Hard Facts- Chasing 3K Hits
One of the most exclusive clubs in all of baseball is 3000 hits. It's a milestone that often takes a player two decades to reach. The MLB average for hits ranges from 125-to 150, with some players entering elite levels of 175-200 hits per season.
The 500 HR club is even more exclusive as only 28 players have reached that milestone. 500 HR requires elite power, consistency, and dominance and often is another milestone that can take around two decades to achieve.
As we learned and witnessed in 2022, Tigers 1B/DH Miguel Caberea joined an elite list of seven players to do both; the other six: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron, Willey Mays, Eddie Murray, and Rafael Palmeiro.
So, who could be the next player(s) to do it. Let's dive in and look at a mix of players under the age of 25, a group of 26-31, and 32+ years old. We will look at these over three separate blog posts.
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Let's work backward and start with a few players who are age 32+ and will fall just short. Side note: The age mentioned of the player will be their age come to the end of the '22 seasons. Also, the '22 season is not subtracted from the number of seasons it will take the player to reach the milestone. Example- 5 seasons- '22-'26 would be the range.
2B/DH Robinson Cano is now 39 years old and has missed the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to injuries and suspension thanks to his use of PED's. Cano, one of the purest hitters in baseball, has always been able to swing a solid, consistent bat during his career. Cano currently sits at about 2631H for his career, and his career average is 190H per season. If he never lost those two seasons, even in the 2020 shortened season, we likely would have celebrated his 3000th hit in 2021 before Miggy. However, it would take 1.94 more seasons to reach the 3K milestone at his current pace, and he would need to pay into his age 42 season to reach the mark. He is signed through 2023 and potentially could reach the mark as a member of the Mets. I think the ship has sailed for Cano, and it will always be a mystery if he COULD have made the mark.
OF/DH Andrew McCutchen of the Milwaukee Brewers. The former Pirates MVP and 5x All-Star currently sits at 1840 hits and is 35yo. As we know him, Cutch averages about 168H per season and is at a point in his now 12th season where he takes the 1yr deal, wherever it comes from. For Cutch to reach the 3K hits the mark, he would need to maintain his career average of 168H for 6.90 more seasons and play until he is 42. Cutch, I'm sorry; I think you're great, and you likely will make it into the HoF and, if nothing, the Pirates Hall of Fame, but I don't think you will hit the 3K milestone.
INF Elvis Andrus of the Oakland A's and once a long time member of the Texas Rangers. The 2x All-Star sits at 1875H on his career and is just 33yo. Andrus has averaged 167H per season over his career. If he is to maintain that average, the 13yr vet will need to 6.73 more seasons and play until nearly age 40 to hit the mark of 3K hits. Sadly, I don't think Andrus can keep it up for that long as he is likely forced to take the 1yr vet deals, wherever it comes in free agency, starting in 2023.
2B Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros will always be a critical member of Houston's "Trash-tros." However, the 32yo 2B is decorated with an MVP, World Series, and Gold Glove, among other awards. The 7x All-Star has 1783H over his 10yr career thus far. Altuve averages an elite 200H per year in that span. Altuve would need 6.08 seasons. The mark of 3K is not far off for Altuve as he would need to play into his age 38 seasons to reach the mark and continue to hit at a high level. As much as I don't like the Astros as a team, I think Altuve could crack the list.
Next up are the 26-31yo players.