MLB’s 3,000-Hit Club: Who’s Next?

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Who is up to the task to follow Miggy into the 3,000 hit club?Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

By Tyler Maher

Baseball fans were treated to a special moment over the weekend as Miguel Cabrera became the 33rd player in MLB history to reach 3,000 career hits. Even more impressively, he became just the seventh batter to surpass both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. He also joined Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only men with 3,000 hits, 500 homers, and a career batting average over .300. No wonder Aaron Boone intentionally walked him on Thursday.

Boone was merely delaying the inevitable, of course, and thankfully we only had to wait two more days to watch Cabrera make history. Baseball followers are going to have to wait much longer, however, to see another player do the same.

The closest player to 3,000 hits is Robinson Cano, who’s still 369 hits away entering play on Sunday. Cano is 39, however, and only under contract through the end of next year. He hasn’t had more than 100 hits in a season since 2017 and is off to a terrible start at the plate this year, so the chances of him getting there are extremely remote.

After Cano, nobody else is even at 2,200 hits. Yadier Molina is the next closest at 2,116, and he’s retiring after this year. Joey Votto is the only other player above 2,000 at 2,035, but he’s 38, walks too much, and has also started the year ice-cold.

Going further down the list, Jose Altuve has a decent shot with 1,783 hits, but time also doesn’t seem to be on his side. He turns 32 next month and hasn’t topped 170 hits in a season since 2017, so he’ll need to remain extremely healthy and productive throughout the rest of his 30s to have a legitimate chance.

The active player with the best chance seems to be Manny Machado, who’s almost halfway there with 1,445 hits and is still only 29. San Diego is a terrible place for hitters, however, which severely hampers his odds if he remains there for the duration of his current contract, which runs through 2028. Machado has not had 160 hits in a season since joining the Padres in 2019.

Mike Trout obviously has the talent, but injuries and the pandemic have cost him dearly over the past half-decade and will likely leave him short, especially if he continues to draw so many walks. The same can be said of Bryce Harper, who’s also missed too much time and walks too frequently. 

Given that, it seems highly unlikely that we see another achieve his 3,000th hit during this decade, which makes Cabrera’s accomplishment even more notable. That would make the 2020s the first decade with just one new 3,000-hit club member since the 1980s, when Rod Carew was the only new entrant (in 1985).  The group has more than doubled in size since then with seven players joining in the 1990s, four players in the 2000s, and five players in the 2010s, including a different player every year from 2015-2018.

There’s a very real possibility that nobody joins them until well into the 2030s, by which point the likes of Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and Wander Franco could be closing in on the mark and attempting to end the longest 3,000-hit drought since baseball was integrated.

It’s also possible that 3,000-hit players will simply be rarer in the future given the recent evolution of the game, similar to how we may have already witnessed the death of the 300-game winner for pitchers. Defensive shifts, ever-increasing strikeout rates, and plummeting batting averages have all conspired to suck up thousands of hits every year. If those trends continue, it’s going to become more and more difficult for batters to amass 3,000+ hits.

Cabrera is already the last player to win the batting Triple Crown. It looks like he’s going to be the last man with 3,000 hits for a while, too.

Tyler Maher is a Content Editor for The Game Day who hopes he gets to see another player reach 3,000 hits in his lifetime.

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