Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Predicting the Future of the 3000 Hit Club, 2018 Edition

For the fourth year in a row, a player has reached the 3000 hit plateau. Albert Pujols, following Alex Rodriguez in 2015, Ichiro Suzuki in 2016, and Adrian Beltre last year, finally crossed the mark to become the fourth member of the 3000 Hit/600 home run club.

In honor of the occasion, I decided to update something I did back when A-Rod passed the milestone: which other active players have a shot at 3000? It’s a variation on my yearly predictions of which players have the best chances to make the Hall of Fame; I look at the median point of 3000 Hit Club members at each age throughout their careers, then look at how many players historically had that same total of hits or greater, then take a simple percentage to get rough odds of a players’ chances to hold on the rest of the way. For this one, I also did the same thing for the third quartile mark.

I took these measures from age 22 all the way to age 39 to get a full picture of the progression for an average 3000 Hit Club member. It takes an early start (28 of the 32 players to reach the mark debuted at age 22 or younger*) and some amazing peak years, but also good health and longevity; twelve players reached 3000 hits in their age 39 season, and another nine made it even later than that. That’s the type of rarified air we’re dealing with. As such, the odds of players making it are much lower than the ones I get for predicting future Hall of Famers (given that there are a couple hundred in Cooperstown already).

*Paul Waner and Honus Wagner debuted at 23, and Wade Boggs debuted at 24. Ichiro, being a freak of nature, pulled it off despite not playing in the majors until his age 27 season.

So, what does the current crop of talent look like?


Age 22 Median: 323 Hits, 14.16% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 22 Third Quartile: 118 Hits, 4.01% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: There’s no shortage of young talent in the majors. Cody Bellinger leads his age bracket, with 169 hits and counting. Hitting the median seems out of reach, but he still easily falls in the third quartile. There’s a lot of talent in the age brackets under him too, though, with Ozzie Albies (108) and Rafael Devers (102) leading 21-year-olds and recent call-ups Gleyber Torres (22) and Ronald Acuña (19) with most of two and three seasons to go before they end their age-22 seasons, respectively.


Age 23 Median: 477 Hits, 15.24% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 23 Third Quartile: 282 Hits, 5.97% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: Carlos Correa is in good position to pass the median, sitting at 441 hits currently, and he’ll get a good head start on crossing next season’s mark too. Nomar Mazara (321) and Andrew Benintendi (223) are also worth mentioning.


Age 24 Median: 586 Hits, 11.59% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 24 Third Quartile: 432 Hits, 7.16% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: I feel like I call Francisco Lindor Carlos Correa’s counterpart every time I write one of these articles, but it’s not like it’s unearned. Lindor has about as far to go as Correa, sitting at 535 hits. Rougned Odor is also already past 500 hits, at 507. Moving along, Corey Seager could have gotten closer before his season-ending injury but will instead finish at 412, and Addison Russell might be able to make it into the third quartile (354).


Age 25 Median: 810 Hits, 18.18% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 25 Third Quartile: 617 Hits, 8.92% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are both already above the median and will only build up more of a buffer. Machado is almost exactly 100 hits ahead in their race, 917 to 818. They’re both still a while away, but this is exactly the type of start you’d like to see for future 3000 hit guys. Xander Bogaerts (715), Mookie Betts (658), and Jose Ramirez (540) are all doing pretty well themselves, even if they aren’t quite as well set up.


Age 26 Median: 996 Hits, 21.33% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 26 Third Quartile: 801 Hits, 11.54% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: Mike Trout recorded his 1000th career hit last year, becoming one of the youngest players in history to reach that mark. And at 1085 hits so far, he could make it above the age-27 mark this year, which is really impressive. Christian Yelich seems disappointing by comparison, but that’s not really fair to him; at 752 hits, he could still easily pass the third quartile mark this year.


Age 27 Median: 1179 Hits, 24.62% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 27 Third Quartile: 974 Hits, 12.90% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: For as good as his all-around game is, age-27 leader Nolan Arenado is one of the less likely future-3000 guys. At 841 hits, he could conceivably match the third quartile median this year, but he has basically no room for error.


Age 28 Median: 1341 Hits, 23.19% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 28 Third Quartile: 1139 Hits, 14.12% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: You probably forgot this, but Starlin Castro was the first major leaguer born in the 1990s when he debuted back in 2010. He’s not quite lived up to his ceiling, but he’s been consistently decent and played a lot in that time, and he sits at 1324 hits as a result. He’ll probably need to return to his level from 2011-2 to have an actual shot at 3000, but it’ll be interesting to see how long he stays on pace.

Jose Altuve could still pass Castro this year even if Castro has a good year, just because of how many hits Altuve racks up. At 1302 hits, he’ll definitely make the median barring injury. There are a plethora of other interesting names after those two, including Eric Hosmer (1170), Freddie Freeman (1133), Jason Heyward (1060), and Giancarlo Stanton (999), although I’m still going to call Altuve far and away the favorite here.


Age 29 Median: 1523 Hits, 27.12% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 29 Third Quartile: 1266 Hits, 13.04% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: Elvis Andrus looked like a solid bet to pass the halfway point this year. His injury (and first career DL stint) casts some doubt on that, but as long as he comes back at some point, he should be able to make it. He sits at 1474 hits, thanks to his good health and young debut, and if he continues to hit like he did in 2016 and 2017, he actually might make a run at 3K.


Age 30 Median: 1678 Hits, 26.67% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 30 Third Quartile: 1431 Hits, 15.48% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: The only 30-year-old with even 1100 hits is Justin Upton at 1508. He’s another one that benefits from an early debut; it’s hard to see him making it the rest of the way if he continues posting batting averages in the .260 range.


Age 31 Median: 1848 Hits, 31.37% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 31 Third Quartile: 1622 Hits, 18.90% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: Andrew McCutchen is about to get hit #1500, which is nice, but also not a good set-up for a final push to 3000. Unless he hangs around for a long time or has a second peak up his sleeve, he’s probably not going to make it.


Age 32 Median: 2027 Hits, 36.36% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 32 Third Quartile: 1800 Hits, 22.43% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: Adam Jones (1693) and Evan Longoria (1506) have both had wonderful careers to date, but it takes a step above even that to get to 3000. Both are way off of even the third-quartile pace.


Age 33 Median: 2205 Hits, 42.11% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 33 Third Quartile: 1988 Hits, 26.37% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: Ryan Zimmerman is in about the same place as Adam Jones (1689 hits), but a year older.


Age 34 Median: 2376 Hits, 48.48% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 34 Third Quartile: 2149 Hits, 29.36% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: Nick Markakis has been getting some attention lately as a dark horse candidate for 3000, thanks to a hot start. Anything’s possible, but even if he makes it to 2149 this year (he's at 2108, so it's likely), it's worth remembering that a majority of players at the third-quartile mark still fall short. And I like Markakis as much as anyone, but this is still a guy who hit .272 and posted a 98 OPS+ as a corner outfielder in 2016 and 2017. It would take more than a strong first two months to convince me he’s fully back. Still, he looks a lot better than anyone in this article since Elvis Andrus.


Age 35 Median: 2523 Hits, 50.00% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 35 Third Quartile: 2311 Hits, 35.29% of players go on to 3000 hits

Current Leaders: And finally, we get two guys that I would consider likely. Miguel Cabrera (2666) and Robinson Cano (2417) are both in a range where normally, we’d consider them toss-ups, but they also both have external factors in play. Namely, both are under contract for at least five more seasons after 2018, so unless their injuries get so severe they’re forced out of the game entirely, they’ll probably both be able to stick around as DHs collecting hits or something; both have hit at an above-average major-league level when healthy in the past few years. And even if they don’t quite make it all the way on their current deals, as long as they finish within 100 hits or so and healthy enough to play, teams will probably consider bringing them aboard just to market their chase for 3000.


Age 36 Median: 2670 Hits, 55.17% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 36 Third Quartile: 2489 Hits, 43.64% of players go on to 3000 hits

Age 37 Median: 2816 Hits, 69.57% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 37 Third Quartile: 2642 Hits, 50.00% of players go on to 3000 hits

Age 38 Median: 2929 Hits, 88.89% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 38 Third Quartile: 2803 Hits, 64.86% of players go on to 3000 hits

Age 39 Median: 3028 Hits, 100% of players go on to 3000 hits
Age 39 Third Quartile: 2932 Hits, 88.89% of players go on to 3000 hits


Current Leaders: We might as well combine these final four; outside of current club-members Pujols and Beltre, only 39-year-old Victor Martinez and 36-year-old Adrian Gonzalez are even above 2000, and neither has made it to 2100 yet.

So there you have it. It’s a little sparser than my Future Hall of Fame previews, but then, there are a lot more guys in Cooperstown than the 3000 Hit Club. Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera will probably be joining in the next few years, then we’ll likely have a while before the next one. But there are a lot of good candidates in their 20s, so ultimately we won’t be kept waiting too long.

1 comment:

  1. I am a Red Sox fan, and two names came up in your article that convince me I'm a jinx. The Bosox have had some of the dumbest general managers in history and it just may be that they are the jinx. In 2010 Boston had Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, both 31 at the time, at 1st and 3rd, and let them go. Why. Ray Charles could have seen they were outstanding with 8 or 9 good seasons left. It could have meant two or three more pennants or World Series crowns. As for today's Red Sox, I'm not sure about Bogaerts, a little streaky, but you can go ahead and pencil Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez in for Cooperstown. Mookie amazes every day and Martinez is a pure hitter, not just a power guy.

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