Coming Soon: the 3000 Hit Parade

With Derek Jeter’s retirement, the 2015 season will begin without an active 3000 Hit man. But, that should change soon, likely with an unusual confluence of such hitters.

More after the jump.

Cap Anson was the first player to reach 3000 hits, a club now numbering 28 members. Here are when each of them joined:

  • 1894 – Cap Anson
  • 1914 – Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie
  • 1921 – Ty Cobb
  • 1925 – Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins
  • 1942 – Paul Waner
  • 1958 – Stan Musial
  • 1970 – Willie Mays, Hank Aaron
  • 1972 – Roberto Clemente
  • 1974 – Al Kaline
  • 1978 – Pete Rose
  • 1979 – Carl Yastrzemski, Lou Brock
  • 1985 – Rod Carew
  • 1992 – Robin Yount, George Brett
  • 1993 – Dave Winfield
  • 1995 – Eddie Murray
  • 1996 – Paul Molitor
  • 1999 – Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs
  • 2000 – Cal Ripken
  • 2001 – Rickey Henderson
  • 2005 – Rafael Palmeiro
  • 2007 – Craig Biggio
  • 2011 – Derek Jeter

With more players, longer seasons, bigger contracts and better training regimens, 3000 hit men have become more common, with half of the current 28 joining the club in the last 35 seasons.

As can be seen from the list above, players reaching 3000 hits have been concentrated in two periods, with seven in the 1970s and nine in the 1992-2001 decade. Some superlatives concerning 3000 hit players:

  • Most reaching 3000 in same season: 2 (1914, 1925, 1970, 1979, 1992, 1999)
  • Most active at same time: 3 (Speaker/Cobb/Collins 1925-28, Mays/Aaron/Clemente 1972, Rose/Yastrzemski/Brock 1979, Yount/Brett/Winfield 1993, Gwynn/Ripken/Henderson 2001)
  • Most seasons active after reaching 3000 hits: 8 (Pete Rose, 1979-86), 7 (Ty Cobb 1922-28)
  • Most hits in season after reaching 3000 hits*: 216 (Derek Jeter, 2012), 211 (Ty Cobb, 1922, 1924)
  • Most consecutive seasons with new 3000 hit man: 3 (1999-2001)
  • Most consecutive seasons with one active 3000 hit man: 12 (1992-2003)
  • Most consecutive seasons with none active: 16 (1898-1913), 12 (1946-57), 11 (1931-41)
*Paul Molitor had 225 hits in the 1996 season that he reached 3000 hits

Looking ahead, a new confluence of 3000 hitters appears to be approaching. Here are projected 3000 hit dates, together with current probability (based on Bill James’ Favorite Toy) of reaching that target (not necessarily in the projected year):

  • 2015 – Alex Rodriguez (60%)
  • 2016 – Ichiro Suzuki (71%)
  • 2017 – Adrian Beltre (97%)
  • 2018 – Albert Pujols (73%)
  • 2019 – Miguel Cabrera (81%)

If the future unfolds that way, it will be the first time with a new 3000 hit man in 5 consecutive seasons. However, if we assume those probabilities are independent of each other, the chance that all five will reach 3000 is only 24%, but improves to 41% if we assume Rodriguez makes it (the zero for A-Rod’s hit total last season has lowered his probability estimate substantially, probably to a much greater degree than warranted).

Some other probabilities for reaching 3000 hits.

  • Robinson Cano – 40%
  • Mike Trout – 24%
  • Jimmy Rollins – 22%
  • Elvis Andrus – 20%
  • Jose Reyes – 20%
  • Nick Markakis – 19%
  • Andrew McCutchen – 17%
  • Billy Butler – 16%
  • David Wright – 12%
  • none of the above – 11%
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
52 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David P
David P
5 years ago

The problem with James’ Favorite Toy is that it underestimates the career length of great players. For example, it has Pujols retiring at age 38. But we already know that he’s signed through age 41. I suppose it’s possible that he doesn’t play the final three years of his contract but it seems unlikely. Anyway, Rodriguez only needs to average 20.3 hits for the final 3 years of his contract. Pujols, 68.7. Cabrera, 90.4 (less if 2024 and/or 2025 vests). Beltre’s only under contract for two more years but he shows no sign of slowing down. Based on that, I’d… Read more »

John Autin
Editor
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Ichiro’s 156 “need” hits seem so paltry, and yet … my own guess is 50% on his shot at 3,000. Ichiro was the 61st player with either 100 games or 100 hits *at* age 40. Of the prior set, 41 of them played at age 41. Averages for those who played both years: Stat … 40 … 41 PAs … 488 … 378 Gms … 127 … 105 Hits … 118 … 86 OPS+ … 109 … 85 BA … .276 … .259 The control group was a little different than Ichiro at 40 — more offensive value, less defensive.… Read more »

aweb
aweb
5 years ago
Reply to  David P

It’s not that unlikely that Pujols won’t be playing to at the end of his contract – a few more injuries, a few half years…his three years in LA so far, averaged out, put him 4 more years from 3000 hits. I think 73% is pretty fair – health generally doesn’t improve, and neither does performance, in the mid-late 30s. A-Rod was far, far more of a cinch to make it after his age 34 season. Now, he will crawl over the finish line, probably. Miguel Cabrera is very similar – playing a lot but not exactly healthy the last… Read more »

David P
David P
5 years ago
Reply to  aweb

Except Griffey makes the exact opposite point. Even beat-up, injured, limping to the end Ken Griffey managed 625 hits post age 34 (Pujols only needs 481). Todd Helton, another guy who was injured a lot at the end of his career, managed 562 hits after age 34. Heck, even with missing an entire season, Dave Winfield had 1,027 hits after age 34. I could go one but you get my point. For someone of Pujols’ talent level and contract length, 481 more hits isn’t that many. And once he gets close, which he will, he’ll do whatever it takes to… Read more »

aweb
aweb
5 years ago
Reply to  David P

It’s not that I don’t think Pujols will make it, it’s just that I don’t think 73% is an unreasonable number. There is a small but real chance that Pujols declines or gets hurt and isn’t useful to anyone anymore. There have been very, very few players as good as Pujols, so it’s unlikely he becomes useless next year, but in the next 4 years, sure, there is a chance. Also, if he gets close, but is no longer a useful player (and being a useful DH/1B requires at least decent hitting), it doesn’t matter if he’s willing to make… Read more »

David P
David P
5 years ago
Reply to  aweb

How would any of these deals end 3-4 years early??? Teams can’t just unilaterally cancel contracts. And the player has 0 incentive to accept a buyout for a lesser amount. If a players get released, the team is still on hook for the contract and someone else can pick him up for the league minimum. Just look at Arod and the Yankees. Why do you think he’ll be on the team next year? Cause they have to pay him regardless so they might as well bring him back and see what he can contribute. Also formerly great players are on… Read more »

aweb
aweb
5 years ago
Reply to  aweb

I realize the deals won’t actually end early, but some of the players won’t be playing at the end. Injuries and unexpected declines happen, sheesh, I didn’t think that was controversial.

And again, I think Pujols will make it, with plenty of room to spare, I just think 1:3 odds are about right if I was going to bet against him.

mosc
mosc
5 years ago
Reply to  David P

I agree with David P. Failing some kind of career ending injury (and not just your standard degrading injuries) I don’t see how Pujols doesn’t make it. He’s signed for 7 more years on a club with a DH spot to fill and he’s one of the greatest first basemen of all time. It doesn’t take much of a fraction of his talent to hold on for 481 more hits in his situation. and his 2014 wasn’t really that bad folks. 125 OPS+ and 695 PA’s is a hell of a year for a 34 year old slugger. Yankees would… Read more »

MikeD
MikeD
5 years ago
Reply to  David P

James’ Favorite Toy might now be highlighting something new, something that has changed in the game. Are players being allowed to stay around longer past their expiration dates because of their contracts? In the past, Pujols might have been gone at or around age 38. Question is, will the Angels just keep him around for another two or three years until he’s in his 40s if he can no longer hit? A-Rod might be the first test of this. I can understand why the Yankees haven’t cut him. He’s actually never not hit, so they might as well see what’s… Read more »

mosc
mosc
5 years ago
Reply to  MikeD

I think Arod will be given 100-200 PA’s this year if he hits like drew did in 2014 and then released. If he hits say a .650 OPS, they will probably cut him at the end of the season. If he hits .700 OPS I bet he’s back for 2016 and if he hits .750+ OPS and stay healthy I bet he qualifies for the batting title. He doesn’t have a super long leash. I think the Yankees would cut him right now if they knew for a fact no team would ever sign him again and that he’d never… Read more »

birtelcom
Editor
5 years ago
Reply to  mosc

It seems to me replacement level theory and basic business economics suggest that: 1. If you have a player with a guaranteed contract, so long as his expected performance level remains above replacement level he is worth keeping on the roster, or (if you already have a player at his position who is further above replacement level) at least trading to another team for some fair return while agreeing to pay all or most of his guaranteed salary. 2. Once the player’s expected performance level falls below replacement level, into negative WAR territory, it makes sense to just cut him… Read more »

David P
David P
5 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

I’m not sure I agree Birtelcom, at least in terms of the better players. There are two issues that I see: 1) With a formerly great players on a guaranteed contract, the team will have them on a long leash, waiting to see if they can return to their former greatness. Or some semblance of it. Even if a player is playing at or below replacement level, there’s still the hope that they’ll bounce back. I think it would take several years of below level replacement play for a team to release a player. 2) If you release the player,… Read more »

MikeD
MikeD
5 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Mosc, I don’t think there’s any way they can get out of the contract, meaning A-Rod is not going to walk away, not from $61 MM. He’ll sit on the bench if that’s where they send them, but that will hurt them more than him. He can create an uncomfortable situation for the overall team and he’s a blocked roster spot without production. They can embarrass him, but he still owns the winning hand. I think they’ll give him a chance to show what he has left, but if he fails, it may be in both their interests to cut… Read more »

John Autin
Editor
5 years ago
Reply to  MikeD

MikeD, 10-year deals ending past age 40 are surely new. But “hang-around” years have always been with us, for other reasons. Before integration, when leagues tended to be much more stratified than now, there were always some hopeless teams who would take on a faded star as a drawing card, or just because they had no one better. The Braves were leading practitioners of this craft. The Braves stunk most years from 1917-45, never rising above 4th and with just 4 winning years. (Only the Phils had a worse combined W%.) In that span, they gave swan-songs to Babe Ruth,… Read more »

MikeD
MikeD
5 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

JohnA,

I believe it’s possible that when teams sign these contracts they may believe they will eat the last year or two of the deals. Yet it’s easy to believe that when the decision is seven or eight years off. Actually cutting a player owed tens of millions is easier said than done. In A-Rod’s case, the Yankees at least front loaded more of the money. In Pujols’ case, the money increases the older he gets. I have no idea what the Angels plan to do there, but the latter years of that deal figure to be quite ugly.

john
john
5 years ago

A Rod is anything but a lock. Granted, he needs only 61 hits, but he sat out completely last year, and he turns 40 in July, not a good age to sit for a year. It’s already clear he isn’t the Yankees 1st choice at 3rd this year, although he could try 1st or dh, or even back at ss. Hopefully, Cashman and the Steinbrothers will see his real worth, and buy out his contract. Here’s hoping he doesn’t make the 3000 hit club.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
5 years ago
Reply to  john

The following players missed their age 38 season and then returned to the ML. Some of them had brief tours when they returned. I hope it prints OK.

Andres Galarraga
Billy Sullivan
Chris Chambliss
Clark Griffith
Diego Segui
Ed Heusser
Fred Tenney
Joe Berry
Ken Forsch
Leo Durocher
Luke Hamlin
Michael Jackson
Miguel Tejada
Orlando Pena
Rich Gossage
Rollie Hemsley
Tony Fernandez

Joseph
Joseph
5 years ago

Chambliss had zero hits after he returned. Galarraga had over 400.

So who knows what Arod will do? I would bet he gets over 3100 at the end of day.

David P
David P
5 years ago
Reply to  Joseph

Chambliss isn’t a good comp for Rodriguez. He was working as the Yankees hitting coach and was briefly activated to fill in for an injury.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
5 years ago
Reply to  David P

It was the end of the day and I had spent a lot of time on the computer so I did not feel like checking out how much each guy played. Among the position players the only ones with hits were Galarraga with 412, Tenney with 97, Tejada with 45, Heuser and Fernandez with 32 and Leo the Lip with with 1.

Joseph
Joseph
5 years ago

I think the James predictor is flawed when it comes to these types of milestones. There are 8 retired players with between 3,000 and 3099 hits. There are only 5 retired players with between 2900 and 2999. And only one within the last 40 years–Barry Bonds–and it seems he was forced into retirement. Frank Robinson is the other one outside of Bonds within the last 70 years who retired just on the verge of 3,000 hits. I saw him quoted once as saying that he didn’t hang on for 3,000 hits (and 600 HRs) because in his day it wasn’t… Read more »

PP
PP
5 years ago

Billy Butler? Go figure.

Joseph
Joseph
5 years ago
Reply to  PP

At the rate he’s going, he’ll be the only 3,000 hit club member with WAR less than 40.

mosc
mosc
5 years ago
Reply to  Joseph

Don’t worry, he’s got enough time at DH where the writers will ignore whatever production he accomplishes anyway.

Joseph
Joseph
5 years ago

Running the play index at baseball reference I was surprised to discover that it was Sam Rice who had the most hits from 35 through 40, not Rose or Cobb. Also surprised that he was not a full time MLB player until he was 27. And he was out for all but 7 games when he was 28. And he still managed 2987 hits.

JasonZ
5 years ago
Joseph
Joseph
5 years ago
Reply to  JasonZ

And a bit from the article lends support to my post in #15, that players on the verge of 3,000 hits will stick around to make the number:

>>The 44-year-old Rice finished just 13 hits shy of 3,000, a fact that he later revealed was unknown to him at the time or else he would have stuck around to get those hits.<<

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
5 years ago
Reply to  Joseph

@25,

When the fact that Sam Rice was only 13 hits short of 3,000 became well-known, the Senators offered Rice the chance to come back to get those 13 hits, but he declined.

BTW, there’s a restaurant in Rockville, MD that I go to that he several photos of Rice, amongst other MLB players; he lived in the area for many years.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
5 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

Sam Rice’s lowest seasonal BA was .293. That is the highest minimum BA for all players with 10+ seasons. That counts all seasons regardless of the number of PA.

HowardR
HowardR
5 years ago
Reply to  JasonZ

I’m curious about Frank Robinson’s case. Surely it was no secret that he was on the verge of 3,000 hits and he could still mash in 1975 (151 OPS+) his next to last season. As manager he could have penciled himself in more in order to chase the milestone but deferred to Rico Carty (they also had a DH at 1B in Boog Powell who had his last big year). The next year when he was no longer managing the Indians he went to the Dodgers where he would only pinch hit instead of staying in the AL as a… Read more »

HowardR
HowardR
5 years ago
Reply to  HowardR

Sorry Joseph, I didn’t notice that you had mentioned Robinson in post #15. I’m surprised at what his reasoning was though since I remember Al Kaline’s 3,000th hit in 1974 being a pretty big deal.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

When Yaz got his 3000th hit the game was stopped and there was a short on-field ceremony to commemorate the event.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

@32/RC;

I remember the ‘Yaz 3000-hit watch’ very well – it was painful by the end (June 1979?), as he was something like 0-for-21 before he hit a little dribbler up the middle that snuck into the outfield.

I think he was more relieved than excited at that point.

HowardR
HowardR
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

That makes sense, Doug though I’m still surprised he went to LA instead of an AL team. Maybe he saw the writing on the wall but he did hit well in 1975 w/good #s against both lefties and righties.

HowardR
HowardR
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Duh….not sure how I mixed that up. Thanks for the info.

Artie Z.
Artie Z.
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

This is purely speculative on my part: Robinson may have been suffering from “low batting average syndrome.” During Mickey Mantle’s last 4 years he hit .254 but had a 149 OPS+ because he was drawing walks and hitting HRs (his 22 HRs in 1967 were 8th in the AL). That 149 OPS+ over those 4 years was 10th in MLB for all players with 1000+ PAs. But I think people saw him as seriously diminished because his average fell to .254. Frank Robinson from 1972-1976 had pretty similar numbers to Mantle 1965-1968 – .252 AVG, 141 OPS+, 10th in OPS+… Read more »

Joseph
Joseph
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

I went back and re-read the story–from the book “The Real 100 Best Baseball Players” by Ken Shoulder. According to Shoulder, Robinson stated two reasons: 1. Nobody wanted to pay him enough to keep playing (which sounds more like him); and 2. The numbers were not as bid a deal. I would guess that the money was the largest factor. I’m also going to guess that because it was right at the dawn of the free agent era, and because he seemed to be a justifiably proud man, he wasn’t going to play for peanuts. Also, because he could have… Read more »

Bryan O'Connor
Editor
5 years ago

Beltre vs. Biggio: Biggio spent his prime criminally underrated by all those who weren’t reading Bill James. He got on base a ton, including a lot of HBPs, stole bases at an efficient rate, and played passable defense at key positions. Those skills forced the Astros into keeping him around way past his prime to chase 3,000 hits, and now he’s a Hall of Famer. Beltre spent his prime criminally underrated by all those who sort leaderboards by batting average and RBI rather than Rbat and WAR. He hit for power in pitchers’ parks and played elite defense, among the… Read more »

mosc
mosc
5 years ago
Reply to  Bryan O'Connor

Beltre got enough attention when the Rangers were in the world series for a couple years. He’ll make it very quickly into the hall at this point. If he performs for another couple seasons he’ll be a first ballot sure thing.

There’s a big jump for me between Beltre and Nettles/Rolen/Bell. Big.

David P
David P
5 years ago
Reply to  mosc

I could see some voters making the following anti-Beltre HOF argument: “He was a good, not great player until he went to great hitting parks where his career took off. If he was really a HOFer, he would have hit better with the Dodgers and Mariners. And then there’s 2004. What was up with that? PEDs???” It’s basically the anti-Larry Walker HOF argument with a bit of PEDs suspicion thrown in. (not saying I agree with the argument, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets made) Now in Beltre’s case, he’s actually hit better on the road than at… Read more »

birtelcom
Editor
5 years ago
Reply to  David P

I think the issue with Beltre is partly that such a large part of his WAR is in his Rfield. His career Rbat is lower than Ron Cey’s or Stan Hack’s or David Wright’s, and that huge fielding number (second all-time at third base to Brooks Robinson) just may not feel as completely convincing to those who are not WAR aficionados. It’s widely acknowledged that Beltre is a fine defensive third baseman, but I’m not sure everyone would agree he’s been the second-greatest of all time. And almost everyone here recognizes that Rfield has its limitations.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

Hits by Third Basemen:

3154 … Brett
3010 … Boggs
2848 … Brooks
2726 … Chipper
2604 … Beltre
2514 … Bell
2416 … Pie
____

Through Age 35;

2604 … Beltre
2421 … Bell
2399 … Brett
2398 … Brooks
2357 … Pie
2304 … Mathews
2267 … Boggs

David P
David P
5 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

I think that’s a great point Birtelcom! I’ve seen lots of people use WAR as a way to end a conversation (i.e, he has 77.8 WAR, he must be a HOFer). But as Dave Cameron from Fangraphs has stated, WAR is meant to open the conversation, not close it. We know that Rfield isn’t as accurate as some of the other components of WAR. And that the newer defensive measures have larger ranges than some of the older ones which gives Beltre an advantage in comparison with 3rd baseman of other eras. Also, Fangraphs has him considerably lower, with 70.8… Read more »

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
5 years ago

I’d like to see 4,000 Career Hits used as a standard of greatness, as opposed to 3,000 Career Hits. Granted, the club is a little less exclusive (45 vs. 28 members), but I think the overall quality of the members is higher, including some all-time great hitters not in the 3,000 Hit Club: – Barry Bonds – Babe Ruth – Mel Ott – Frank Robinson – Lou Gehrig – Frank Thomas – Mickey Mantle – Jimmie Foxx – Rogers Hornsby BTW, the 3,000 Hit Guys not on the 4,000 TOB List are: – Tony Gwynn – Nap Lajoie – Lou… Read more »

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
5 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

@33,

OOOOOOPS – I meant to say: “I’d like to see 4,000 TIMES ON BASE used as a standard of greatness” – how did that get by me?? 🙁

PaulE
PaulE
5 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

Agreed.
Throw in 5,000 total bases as well since we”re talking “compiling” stats.

birtelcom
Editor
5 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Top 10 Career “TBIP” (“Total Bases Including Passes”, which means TB+BB+HBP):
1.Bonds 8,640
2. Aaron 8,290
3. Ruth 7,898
4. Musial 7,786
5. Mays 7,574
6. Rose 7,425
7. Yaz 7,424
8. Cobb 7,197
9. F. Robinson 6,991
10. T. Williams 6,944

32 hitters have reached 6,000 career TBIP, compared to 28 who have reached 3,000 hits. Biggio is the #32 guy on the TBIP list, getting over 6,000 because of his huge number of HBPs.

Joseph
Joseph
5 years ago

Predictor would have given V. Guerrero a 66% chance to make 3,000 after his age 36 season (2590 hits). He retired. I don’t recall if he was injured or not, but still a potential to be a decent hitter.