13 Ways of Looking at the 3,000-Hit Club

Ichiro Suzuki is the most recent member of the 3,000 hit club. (via John Maxmena)

Ichiro Suzuki is the most recent member of the 3,000 hit club. (via John Maxmena)

The 3,000 hit club is exclusive (30 members to date), and membership in same is pretty much an automatic induction into the Hall of Fame, with a few notable exceptions. Only five players with 3,000 hits are not in the Hall. Pete Rose has been banned, period. Rafael Palmeiro, who once appeared to be a shoo-in, has been removed from the ballot due to lack of interest which in turn was due to lying about his use of steroids. Alex Rodriguez may or may not suffer the same fate as Palmeiro. Derek Jeter will surely be elected in his first year of eligibility, as will Ichiro Suzuki. The latter was the 30th man to reach 3,000 hits, and he sits at 3,030. I’m no numerologist, but it sounds like now is the perfect time for Ichiro to retire. But he hit .291 in 327 at-bats in 2016, so he may disagree.

The wild card in the group is Cap Anson. There’s no doubt he had 3,000 hits; the controversy is over how far above 3,000 he went. He played for the Chicago franchise (known as the White Stockings and the Colts) from the National League’s inaugural year of 1876 through 1897. Before the NL, however, he played with the Rockford Forest Citys (sic) and the Philadelphia Athletics of the National Association, the first professional league, albeit loosely organized and arguably not of major league caliber.

So should Anson’s stats from that league be included or not? Most authorities say no, so I will concur and go with Anson’s 1876-1897 stats only. Another wrinkle is the 1887 season when walks were counted as hits, but Baseball Almanac has corrected for that, so I am going with those stats.

There are a number of ways to compare the members of the 3,000 hit club, so herewith are 13 lists involving the 29 members of the club. Before we get to that baker’s dozen, however, here is the ranking according to number of hits:

3,000 HIT CLUB
Player Hits
Pete Rose 4256
Ty Cobb 4189
Hank Aaron 3771
Stan Musial 3630
Tris Speaker 3514
Derek Jeter 3465
Carl Yastrzemski 3419
Cap Anson 3418
Honus Wagner 3415
Paul Molitor 3319
Eddie Collins 3315
Willie Mays 3283
Eddie Murray 3255
Nap Lajoie 3242
Cal Ripken 3184
George Brett 3154
Paul Waner 3152
Robin Yount 3142
Tony Gwynn 3141
Alex Rodriguez 3115
Dave Winfield 3110
Craig Biggio 3060
Rickey Henderson 3055
Rod Carew 3053
Ichiro Suzuki 3030
Lou Brock 3023
Rafael Palmeiro 3020
Wade Boggs 3010
Al Kaline 3007
Roberto Clemente 3000

So much for the foundation. Now let’s build on it.

Player Date
Cap Anson  July 18, 1897
Honus Wagner   June 9, 1914
Nap Lajoie Sept. 27, 1914
Ty Cobb  Aug. 19, 1921
Tris Speaker   May 17, 1925
Eddie Collins   June 3, 1925
Paul Waner  June 19, 1942
Stan Musial   May 13, 1958
Hank Aaron   May 17, 1970
Willie Mays  July 18, 1970
Roberto Clemente Sept. 30, 1972
Al Kaline Sept. 24, 1974
Pete Rose    May 5, 1978
Lou Brock  Aug. 13, 1979
Carl Yastrzemski Sept. 12, 1979
Rod Carew   Aug. 3, 1985
Robin Yount  Sept. 9, 1992
George Brett Sept. 30, 1992
Dave Winfield Sept. 16, 1993
Eddie Murray  June 30, 1995
Paul Molitor Sept. 16, 1996
Tony Gwynn   Aug. 6, 1999
Wade Boggs   Aug. 7, 1999
Cal Ripken April 15, 2000
Rickey Henderson   Oct. 7, 2001
Rafael Palmeiro  July 15, 2005
Craig Biggio  June 28, 2007
Derek Jeter   July 9, 2011
Alex Rodriguez  June 19, 2015
Ichiro Suzuki   Aug. 7, 2016

Note the gaps in the above chronology. Given the shorter schedules of 19th century baseball, it’s not surprising that that century could produce only one hitter, Cap Anson, with 3,000 hits. To a lesser degree, Honus Wagner and Nap Lajoie were also affected by shorter seasons, as they broke in during the waning years of the 19th century but played most of their careers in during the 20th century. The longstanding 154-game schedule was instituted in 1904, and was followed by the current 162-game schedule in the AL in 1961 and the NL in 1962. With 30 major league teams (since 1998) playing a 162-game schedule, in the 21st century more players have more opportunities to accumulate 3,000 hits than in the 20th century.

Player Date
Cap Anson    May 6, 1876
Nap Lajoie  Aug. 12, 1896
Honus Wagner  July 19, 1897
Ty Cobb  Aug. 30, 1905
Eddie Collins Sept. 17, 1906
Tris Speaker Sept. 12, 1907
Paul Waner April 13, 1926
Stan Musial Sept. 17, 1941
Willie Mays   May 25, 1951
Al Kaline  June 25, 1953
Hank Aaron   May 13, 1954
Roberto Clemente April 17, 1955
Carl Yastrzemski April 11, 1961
Lou Brock Sept. 10, 1961
Pete Rose  April 8, 1963
Rod Carew April 11, 1967
Dave Winfield  June 19, 1973
George Brett   Aug. 2, 1973
Robin Yount  April 5, 1974
Eddie Murray  April 7, 1977
Paul Molitor  April 7, 1978
Rickey Henderson  June 24, 1979
Cal Ripken  Aug. 10, 1981
Wade Boggs April 10, 1982
Tony Gwynn  July 19, 1982
Rafael Palmeiro  Sept. 8, 1986
Craig Biggio  June 26, 1988
Alex Rodriguez   July 8, 1994
Derek Jeter   May 29, 1995
Ichiro Suzuki  April 2, 2001

Again, the gaps are intriguing. Note that 19 seasons elapsed between the rookie seasons of Tris Speaker and Paul Waner. To be sure, many outstanding hitters (e.g., Sisler, Ruth, Gehrig, Hornsby) came into the game during that time period, yet no 3,000-hit men emerged from the pack. After Waner, it was 15 years till the next 3,000-hit man (Stan Musial) came along. After Musial, it was 10 years until Willie Mays arrived on the scene. Since Mays, the maximum wait has been six years. As noted above, Honus Wagner and Nap Lajoie are the only players who played in both the 19th and 20th centuries. Ichiro is the first member of the 3,000-hit club whose career includes the 21st century only.

Player Length
Pete Rose 15 years, 27 days
Ichiro Suzuki   15 years, 4 months, 5 days
Ty Cobb 15 years, 11 months, 20 days
Hank Aaron 16 years, 4 days
Derek Jeter   16 years, 1 month, 10 days
Paul Waner   16 years, 2 months, 6 days
Stan Musial  16 years, 7 months, 26 days
Honus Wagner 16 years, 10 months, 21 days
Tony Gwynn 17 years, 18 days
Wade Boggs  17 years, 3 months, 28 days
Roberto Clemente  17 years, 5 months, 13 days
Tris Speaker   17 years, 8 months, 5 days
Cal Ripken   17 years, 8 months, 5 days
Lou Brock  17 years, 11 months, 3 days
Nap Lajoie   18 years, 1 month, 15 days
Eddie Murray  18 years, 2 months, 23 days
Rod Carew  18 years, 3 months, 23 days
Carl Yastrzemski    18 years, 5 months, 1 day
Robin Yount   18 years, 5 months, 4 days
Paul Molitor   18 years, 5 months, 9 days
Eddie Collins  18 years, 8 months, 17 days
Rafael Palmeiro  18 years, 10 months, 7 days
Craig Biggio             19 years, 2 days
Willie Mays    19 days, 1 month, 23 days
George Brett   19 years, 1 month, 29 days
Dave Winfield  20 years, 2 months, 28 days
Alex Rodriguez 20 years, 11 months, 11 days
Al Kaline  21 years, 2 months, 30 days
Cap Anson  21 years, 2 months, 12 days
Rickey Henderson  22 years, 3 months, 13 days

To get 3,000 hits, one would have to average 150 hits for 20 years, or 200 hits for 15 years, or some average in-between. So in a sense, Winfield, Rodriguez, Kaline, Henderson and Anson, who took more than 20 years, could be considered “slackers,” though Anson could be given a pass because of the short schedules of his era. The hitters who played during the 154-game-season era were handicapped, time-wise in relation to players who have broken in since the early 1960s when 162 games became the norm. Providing eight extra games per season, the 162-game season provides 160 extra games – the equivalent of a full season – over a 20-year career. Given the length of time necessary to amass 3,000 hits, those extra games can make all the difference.

We can surmise that remaining healthy is also a big advantage in the quest for 3,000 hits. Pete Rose’s appearance at the top of the list is a testament to his ability to avoid the DL. Starting with his rookie year in 1963, he never had less than 558 plate appearances until 1981 when he was 40 years old.

One durable player we don’t hear about much these days is Paul Waner, whose heavy drinking apparently had no effect on his hitting. Waner got 2,868 of his 3,152 hits as a member of the Pirates. He got 180 hits in his rookie year of 1926 and never less than 175 through 1938. During that span, his rookie year total of 536 at bats was his lowest total. When Waner reached 3,000 (as a member of the Braves), he actually refused the honor initially, insisting that the infield hit he was awarded should have been an error. Remarkably, the official scorer changed his mind and Waner reached 3,000 two days later with an undisputed base hit.

Player Age Birthday
Ty Cobb 34  Dec. 18
Hank Aaron 36   Feb. 5
Robin Yount 36 Sept. 16
Tris Speaker 37   Apr. 4
Pete Rose 37  Apr. 14
Derek Jeter 37   May 29
Stan Musial 37  Nov. 21
Eddie Collins 38    May 2
Roberto Clemente 38  Aug. 17
Paul Waner 39  Apr. 16
Willie Mays 39    May 6
Tony Gwynn 39    May 9
George Brett 39   May 15
Alex Rodriguez 39  Jul. 27
Cal Ripken 39  Aug. 24
Rod Carew 39   Oct. 1
Al Kaline 39  Dec. 19
Eddie Murray 40  Feb. 24
Honus Wagner 40  Feb. 24
Lou Brock 40  June 18
Carl Yastrzemski 40  Aug. 22
Paul Molitor 40  Aug. 22
Nap Lajoie 40  Sept. 5
Rafael Palmeiro 40 Sept. 24
Wade Boggs 41  June 15
Dave Winfield 41   Oct. 3
Craig Biggio 41  Dec. 14
Rickey Henderson 42   Oct. 7
Ichiro Suzuki 42  Oct. 22
Cap Anson 45  Apr. 17

Probably the big surprises here are the second and third names on the list. The power-hitting exploits of No. 2, Hank Aaron, are well known, but in addition to 755 home runs, he had 98 triples, 624 doubles and 2,294 singles! From 1955, his sophomore season at age 21, through 1971, he never had fewer than 154 hits. Robin Yount was only 18 when he broke in, so that helped him reach 3,000 at a relatively young age, and he played a 162-game schedule throughout his career. Ichiro, thanks to his late arrival in major league baseball, occupies an unusual niche. He was old chronologically but relatively “young” in terms of how many years it took him to reach 3,000. Only Pete Rose got there faster.

Player AVG
Ty Cobb     0.366
Tris Speaker     0.345
Nap Lajoie   0.33820
Tony Gwynn   0.33817
Paul Waner    0.3332
Eddie Collins    0.3331
Cap Anson 0.3308427
Stan Musial 0.3308421
Honus Wagner     0.329
Wade Boggs    0.3278
Rod Carew    0.3277
Roberto Clemente     0.317
Ichiro Suzuki     0.313
Derek Jeter     0.310
Paul Molitor     0.306
Hank Aaron    0.3049
George Brett    0.3047
Pete Rose     0.303
Willie Mays     0.302
Al Kaline     0.297
Alex Rodriguez     0.295
Lou Brock     0.293
Rafael Palmeiro     0.288
Eddie Murray     0.287
Robin Yount    0.2854
Carl Yastrzemski    0.2852
Dave Winfield     0.283
Craig Biggio     0.281
Rickey Henderson     0.279
Cal Ripken     0.276

A 90-point spread from top to bottom is surprising given the outstanding talent of all 30 hitters. Interesting to note is that 11 of the 30 did not reach .300. Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits garnered him no better than a .303 average. Had he merely tied Cobb in the same amount of at-bats, he would have hit just .298; an even 4,000 hits in the same number of at bats would have put him at just .285. Given Cobb’s record lifetime batting average, and his early start (age 18), it’s easy to see why he was the youngest to reach 3,000 hits.

Cal Ripken’s famed streak of 2,632 games enabled him to maximize his at-bats and hits while rising above his .276 average. Since Ripken is the all-time leader in GIDP (350), I think we can safely assume that his lack of speed (36 stolen bases in 21 seasons) eliminated a lot of potential infield hits, thus depressing his batting average. Speedy left-handed hitters have a decisive advantage when it comes to accruing infield hits, so the right-handed, slow-footed Ripken defied the odds by reaching 3,000.

Player Games Played
Ty Cobb 2,135
Nap Lajoie 2,224
Tony Gwynn 2,284
Cap Anson 2,236
Stan Musial 2,301
Paul Waner 2,314
Honus Wagner 2,332
Tris Speaker 2,341
Derek Jeter 2,362
Pete Rose 2,370
Paul Molitor 2,411
Rod Carew 2,417
Wade Boggs 2,430
Roberto Clemente 2,433
Hank Aaron 2,460
Ichiro Suzuki 2,452
Eddie Collins 2,505
George Brett 2,559
Lou Brock 2,629
Alex Rodriguez 2,631
Willie Mays 2,639
Robin Yount 2,708
Eddie Murray 2,764
Craig Biggio 2,781
Cal Ripken 2,800
Rafael Palmeiro 2,809
Al Kaline 2,825
Dave Winfield 2,840
Carl Yastrzemski 2,848
Rickey Henderson 2,979

The spread in number of games to reach the 3,000 milestone is 844 games, the equivalent of more than five full seasons. It should come as no surprise that the names in this list closely parallel the names in the career batting average list. Since Henderson played only 21 games fewer than 3,000, it suggests the possibility that one day someone may join the 3,000-hit club while playing in more than 3,000 games.

Player PA
Pete Rose 15876
Carl Yastrzemski 13991
Hank Aaron 13940
Rickey Henderson 13346
Ty Cobb 13072
Cal Ripken 12883
Eddie Murray 12817
Stan Musial 12712
Derek Jeter 12602
Craig Biggio 12504
Willie Mays 12493
Dave Winfield 12358
Robin Yount 12249
Alex Rodriguez 12207
Paul Molitor 12167
Rafael Palmeiro 12046
Eddie Collins 12037
Tris Speaker 11988
Honus Wagner 11739
George Brett 11625
Al Kaline 11597
Cap Anson 11319
Lou Brock 11238
Paul Waner 10762
Wade Boggs 10740
Rod Carew 10550
Ichiro Suzuki 10466
Nap Lajoie 10460
Tony Gwynn 10232
Roberto Clemente 10212

The most noticeable stat in this chart is the gap between No. 1 and No. 2, Pete Rose and Carl Yastrzemski, whose careers overlapped from 1963 to 1983. Rose had 1,885 more plate appearances than Yastrzemski. This is by far the biggest gap between consecutive batters on the list. Rose and Yastrzemski are also No. 1 and 2 for total games played (3,562 for Rose and 3,308 for Yaz). You have to tip your hat to the both of them for staying healthy and hanging in there, Rose through age 45, and Yaz through age 44.

Player HR
Hank Aaron 755
Alex Rodriguez 696
Willie Mays 660
Rafael Palmeiro 569
Eddie Murray 504
Stan Musial 475
Dave Winfield 465
Carl Yastrzemski 452
Cal Ripken 431
Al Kaline 399
George Brett 317
Rickey Henderson 297
Craig Biggio 291
Derek Jeter 260
Robin Yount 251
Roberto Clemente 240
Paul Molitor 234
Pete Rose 160
Lou Brock 149
Tony Gwynn 135
Wade Boggs 118
Ty Cobb 117
Tris Speaker 117
Ichiro Suzuki 114
Paul Waner 113
Honus Wagner 101
Cap Anson  97
Rod Carew  92
Nap Lajoie  83
Eddie Collins  47

Clearly, the 3,000 hit club is open to every kind of hitter, from power hitters (Aaron) to line-drive hitters (Brett) to contact hitters (Collins). Collins, by the way, was a renowned place hitter and bunter. I can’t find any stats on the number of bunt singles he amassed, but he is clear and away the all-time leader in sacrifice hits (512, 120 more than Jake Daubert), so I think it’s fair to assume that a significant proportion of his 3,314 hits were bunt singles.

Note that the only non-deadball era hitter to fall short of 100 home runs is Rod Carew. He actually won the 1972 batting title (170 for 535 good for a .318 average) without once going yard. Even by Carew’s standards this was an oddity, as he hit 14 home runs in 1975 and 1977 when he won batting titles with much higher averages (.359 and .388).

Player OBP
Ty Cobb  0.433
Tris Speaker  0.428
Eddie Collins  0.424
Stan Musial  0.417
Wade Boggs  0.415
Paul Waner  0.404
Rickey Henderson  0.401
Cap Anson  0.396
Rod Carew  0.393
Honus Wagner  0.391
Willie Mays  0.388
Tony Gwynn  0.388
Nap Lajoie 0.3811
Alex Rodriguez 0.3797
Carl Yastrzemski 0.3795
Derek Jeter  0.377
Al Kaline  0.376
Pete Rose  0.375
Hank Aaron  0.374
Rafael Palmeiro  0.371
George Brett  0.369
Paul Molitor  0.369
Craig Biggio  0.363
Eddie Murray  0.359
Roberto Clemente  0.359
Ichiro Suzuki  0.356
Dave Winfield  0.353
Lou Brock  0.343
Robin Yount  0.342
Cal Ripken  0.340

“A walk’s as good as a hit,” goes the old Little League refrain. Well, that’s often true, but not when you’re on a quest for 3,000 hits. Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, for example, are not members of the 3,000-hit club. But Bonds is the all-time leader in walks with 2,558; Ruth had 2,062 and eagle-eye Williams (the all-time OBP leader at .482) 2,021. Of the four men in baseball history with more than 2,000 walks, the only 3,000-hit man is Rickey Henderson – and it took him longer (22 years, three months, 13 days) than anyone else on the list to reach 3,000. On the other hand, his .401 on-base percentage helped him set the major league record for runs scored with 2,295.

Speaking of renowned base-stealers, Lou Brock, surprisingly, registers at No. 28 on the above list. One might think a longtime leadoff hitter and base-stealer with 3,023 hits would be higher on the list, but Brock didn’t walk much (761 in 19 years).

Player SLG
Stan Musial  0.559
Willie Mays  0.557
Hank Aaron  0.555
Alex Rodriguez  0.550
Rafael Palmeiro  0.515
Ty Cobb  0.512
Tris Speaker  0.500
George Brett  0.487
Al Kaline  0.480
Eddie Murray  0.476
Roberto Clemente 0.4751
Dave Winfield 0.4745
Paul Waner  0.473
Honus Wagner  0.467
Nap Lajoie  0.466
Carl Yastrzemski  0.462
Tony Gwynn  0.459
Paul Molitor 0.4479
Cal Ripken 0.4474
Cap Anson 0.4466
Wade Boggs  0.443
Derek Jeter  0.440
Craig Biggio  0.433
Robin Yount  0.430
Rod Carew 0.4292
Eddie Collins 0.4289
Rickey Henderson  0.419
Lou Brock  0.410
Pete Rose  0.409
Ichiro Suzuki  0.405

Pete Rose and Ichiro, who were the quickest to reach 3,000 hits, are at the bottom of the slugging percentage rankings. As leadoff hitters, they had a built-in advantage, as they got more at-bats. Of course, if you’re batting leadoff, you’re probably not a slugger, so your slugging percentage will reflect that. A .400 slugging percentage appears to be a threshold number for membership in the 3,000-hit club. Yet one fine day a prolific banjo hitter with a .399 slugging percentage may break through the floor. Stay tuned.

Player Total Bases
Hank Aaron 6,856
Stan Musial 6,134
Willie Mays 6,066
Ty Cobb 5,854
Alex Rodriguez 5,813
Pete Rose 5,752
Carl Yastrzemski 5,539
Eddie Murray 5,397
Rafael Palmeiro 5,388
Dave Winfield 5,221
Cal Ripken 5,168
Tris Speaker 5,101
George Brett 5,044
Derek Jeter 4,921
Honus Wagner 4,870
Paul Molitor 4,854
Al Kaline 4,852
Robin Yount 4,730
Craig Biggio 4,711
Rickey Henderson 4,588
Roberto Clemente 4,492
Paul Waner 4,478
Nap Lajoie 4,472
Eddie Collins 4,268
Tony Gwynn 4,259
Lou Brock 4,238
Cap Anson 4,080
Wade Boggs 4,064
Rod Carew 3,998
Ichiro Suzuki 3,920

The spread from 1 to 30 is huge with Ichiro 2,936 behind Hank Aaron. In fact, Aaron is 722 ahead of No. 2, Stan Musial. In fact, Aaron, Musial and Mays are the three all-time leaders in total bases among all hitters, with or without 3,000 hits. If Ichiro plays in 2017, he could get 80 more total bases to lift him to 4,000. That would leave Rod Carew as the only member of the club with fewer than 4,000.

Player BB
Rickey Henderson 2,190
Carl Yastrzemski 1,845
Stan Musial 1,599
Pete Rose 1,566
Eddie Collins 1,499
Willie Mays 1,464
Wade Boggs 1,412
Hank Aaron 1,402
Tris Speaker 1,381
Rafael Palmeiro 1,353
Alex Rodriguez 1,338
Eddie Murray 1,333
Al Kaline 1,277
Ty Cobb 1,249
Dave Winfield 1,216
Craig Biggio 1,160
Cal Ripken 1,129
George Brett 1,096
Paul Molitor 1,094
Paul Waner 1,091
Derek Jeter 1,082
Rod Carew 1,018
Cap Anson   983
Robin Yount   966
Honus Wagner   963
Tony Gwynn   790
Lou Brock   761
Ichiro Suzuki   626
Roberto Clemente   621
Nap Lajoie   516

The top-to-bottom spread in this category is 1,574! Leader Rickey Henderson has more than four times as many walks as the anchor man, Nap Lajoie, who was notorious for swinging at pitches out of the strike zone – even when being granted an intentional pass. Clearly, this helped Lajoie reach 3,000 hits quickly (2,224 games, just 89 more than Cobb at the top of the list). Lajoie’s .338 lifetime batting average puts him in third place among the 3,000-hit club members, but his paucity of walks drops him close to the middle of the pack of the on-base percentage list.

Player 200+ Hit Seasons
Pete Rose 10
Ichiro Suzuki 10
Ty Cobb  9
Paul Waner  8
Derek Jeter  8
Wade Boggs  7
Stan Musial  6
Tony Gwynn  5
Tris Speaker  4
Paul Molitor  4
Rod Carew  4
Lou Brock  4
Roberto Clemente  4
Nap Lajoie  4
Hank Aaron  3
Alex Rodriguez  3
Cal Ripken  2
George Brett  2
Honus Wagner  2
Eddie Collins  1
Willie Mays  1
Rafael Palmeiro  1
Al Kaline  1
Craig Biggio  1
Robin Yount  1
Rickey Henderson  0
Carl Yastrzemski  0
Eddie Murray  0
Dave Winfield  0
Cap Anson  0

The bottom of the list is more intriguing than the top. It is hard to believe that a batter could amass 3,000 hits without at least one 200-hit season. Yet five batters (one out of six) did just that. As noted above, Anson was handicapped by playing a short season. That was not the case with Carl Yastrzemski, whose rookie year of 1961 coincided with the inception of the 162-game schedule in the American League. Rickey Henderson, Eddie Murray and Dave Winfield all played during the 162-game schedule. Henderson, a famed leadoff hitter, should have been a candidate for a 200-hit season, but it never happened. In fact, he never got close. His best year was his 1980 sophomore season when he got 179 hits.

You might think Yastrzemski came close to 200 in his Triple-Crown year of 1967, but his best year in terms of hits (191) was his sophomore year of 1962. If you’re curious about the others, Eddie Murray’s best showing was 186 (1980), and Dave Winfield topped out at 193 (1984).

So there we have 13 perspectives on the 30 hitters who achieved 3,000 hits. Outstanding hitters all, their achievement can be analyzed from a number of perspectives, depending on what you value in a batter aside from sheer number of hits.

The 31st member of the club will likely be Adrian Beltre, who made his debut in 1998. He should reach 3,000 in 2017, his 20th season, as he needs just 58 more hits. If Albert Pujols can stay healthy, he is also a pretty good bet, as he will begin the 2017 season with 2,825 hits at age 37. Miguel Cabrera, with 2,519 hits at age 33, is also a strong possibility. When and if Pujols and Cabrera reach 3,000, Ichiro will no longer be the only member of the club whose major league career began in the 21st century.

Given the statistical spread regarding power, on-base percentage, and other offensive categories, we can say that members of the elite 3,000-hit club are not created equal.

As with crying, there is no egalitarianism in baseball.

Frank Jackson writes about baseball, film and history, sometimes all at once. He has has visited 54 major league parks, many of which are still in existence.
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5 years ago

if you want to see numerology and sports, mostly football, check out Zach’s page

he’s got the Colts to take the SB this year

FYI he got Broncos over Panthers with Miller as MVP last year


5 years ago

“Since Ripken is the all-time leader in GIDP (350), I think we can safely assume that his lack of speed (36 stolen bases in 21 seasons) eliminated a lot of potential infield hits, thus depressing his batting average.”

Ripken actually did allright by the infield hit. BBref only has the data back to 1988, but of Ripken’s 2100 hits from 1988 on, 254 (12%) were infield hits. Rickey Henderson had quite a bit of speed, but only 10% of his hits in that time (172/1769) were on the infield.

Ripken was certainly slower than Rickey, but the big reasons he hit into so many more DPs were 1) he hit more with runners on base and 2) he hit a higher percentage of groundballs. Thanks to all those groundballs he also picked up more infield hits. Ripken also reached on error more than Rickey (167-160).

Both had the same number of bunt for hit attempts and successes (8 for 21).

5 years ago
Reply to  Rally

Sometimes those infield hits will really surprise you. For example, did you know that Yadier Molina, possibly the slowest active right-handed hitter in the game, has 93 career infield hits which make up 5.8% of his career hit total to date?

5 years ago
Reply to  Rally

Right-handed batters actually hit more infield hits than LHB’s because most infield hits are to the left side of the infield and both LHB’s and RHB’s hit the majority of their ground balls to the pull side. This more than counteracts the distance advantage from home to first.

5 years ago

Great work Frank! I hadn’t really thought about the length of season much, outside the pre-1900 guys. I’ll take Musial since I’m a big Card’s fan. Over the course of his career, those 8 games a season less could have played in due to the 154 game schedule basically cost him one full season of stats. So, if we just take his career season averages, Musial ends up with about 3824 hits, 764 doubles, 186 triples, an even 500 HR’s, 2053 runs, 2055 RBI and another 5.8 in bWAR. Now of course Mays and Aaron each would have about a half season’s worth of extra #’s, and Cobb would most likely still be the hit king with about4400 hits, but that’s all part of the fun! Imagine Rose chasing that number, he may played until he was 50 and maybe he doesn’t start betting baseball, but that’s a whole different tangent.

5 years ago
Reply to  AaronB

Also, don’t forget about the year in his prime that Musial lost to World War II.

5 years ago

This is great stuff, something to bookmark. You answered a bunch of questions I didn’t know I had!

5 years ago

Another factor to consider was WWII. Players who may have gotten 3000 hits but did not due to military service include players such as Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and perhaps others. Another reason for the gap between 1942 and 1958.

John Autin
5 years ago
Reply to  GFrankovich

Good point about WWII service. But with all due respect to the servicemen (and to Joe D.), there are really just 2 candidates for 3,000 hits who lost their chance to the service — Williams and Luke Appling.

Williams finished 346 hits short, and missed 3 full prime years in WWII, plus most of 2 more in Korea. The service clearly cost him 3,000.

Appling finished 251 hits short, and missed one full year plus most of another. He rapped 192 hits the year before going in, and still had many good years left after returning to baseball at 38.

But that’s all. When you look at each guy who got within range of where service time *might* have cost him 3,000, and then look at the time missed and the needed hits, there’s just one other who might have had even a miracle shot at it:

Charlie Gehringer wound up 161 hits short, and his career ended when he went in the service at age 39, in September of ’42. But he had been on Detroit’s roster that year and hardly played at all, after an awful season the year before, hitting .220 with 96 hits. A comeback worth 161 hits isn’t inconceivable, if not for the war, but he would have been 40 years old in ’43, and hitting a deadened baseball. And he had business interests outside of the game; when the war ended, he was ready to move on to the next stage of life.

DiMaggio did miss 3 prime years, but he finished 786 hits short. No one can get 786 hits in 3 years. Now, maybe if he’d gotten 600 hits in those lost years, he might not have retired when he did, as he’d have needed less than 200 to make 3,000. But that notion doesn’t jibe with what we know of his personality. He didn’t feel he needed any milestones to validate his career, he was tired of the grind and the limelight, and Mantle was pushing him out of center field. I can’t see Joe hanging on just for a shot at 3,000, not after 3 MVPs and 9 championships.

5 years ago
Reply to  GFrankovich

There’s also the fact that Musial probably would’ve finished ahead of Aaron for third place on the list and joined the 500 HR were it not for his year of service in WWII.

Ambrose Crater
5 years ago

Somewhere between the first and fourth paragraph one member of the club vanished without a trace. This certainly adds a new wrinkle to the whole concept of counting stats.

5 years ago

Think you missed doing a good chart. As look at how many in each decade. Think the better relief pitching really started to take effect in the 2000s after big decades in the 1970s/1990s

3-2010s so far

John C
5 years ago

Rickey Henderson never had a realistic chance at a 200-hit season. He always went up looking for a walk if he could get one, because in his case, a walk wasn’t just as good as a hit, it was as good as a double when he was in his prime.

A player with a walk rate that high isn’t going to get 200 hits in a season unless he hits .340 and never misses a game, like Wade Boggs in his prime. In 1987, Boggs hit .363 and had 105 walks to lead the league, and he “only” hit 200 hits on the dot. Rickey had several seasons where he topped .300, but never into Boggs territory, and he also usually missed 15-20 games a season with various aches and pains, which cut into his chances to pile up hits.

5 years ago

Great article! I’m hoping to get to watch Adrian Beltre achieve his milestone hit. I’m a little bit surprised at how he’d rank in some of these lists. He’d be dead last in the OBP list although his slugging percentage would tie him with Al Kaline within the top 10. And barring a devastating injury he’d still be one of the 10 youngest players to reach 3,000 even though he’d be in the bottom half in games played and the time it took to get to 3,000 (since he started at the age of 18).

5 years ago

“Speaking of renowned base-stealers, Lou Brock, surprisingly, registers at No. 28 on the above list. One might think a longtime leadoff hitter and base-stealer with 3,023 hits would be higher on the list, but Brock didn’t walk much (761 in 19 years).”

And I was a bit surprised that this surprised you. Lou Brock is the poster boy in sabermetric circles for how misleading counting stats can be. If you had expanded your 13 lists to include anything stat popularized after 1975, you would have found Brock at the bottom according to, for example, OPS and WAR. To be fair, in OPS+ he does barely edge out Ichiro in OPS+ (109 – 108) and comes close to Cal Ripken and Craig Biggio (each at 112). But Ichiro, Ripken and Biggio all brought significant defensive value to the table, whereas Brock was (to be charitable) a mediocre fielding left fielder.

Seriously, I was kind of amazed that on a site like this, you could post an article comparing members of the 3K hit club and somehow totally miss the fact that Brock is a glaring outlier at the bottom of the class.

zzz accounting
5 years ago

Dave Parker early 1980s drug issues possibly cost him 3,000 hits and the HOF.