Miguel Cabrera became the 33rd player in AL/NL history to record 3,000 hits with his first-inning single off the Rockies' Antonio Senzatela in the first game of a doubleheader between the Tigers and Rockies in Detroit on Saturday. The 3,000-hit club is one of the most exclusive in baseball history, and whenever a new member joins that fraternity, the question arises: Who’s next?
Here’s a look at active players who may one day join the 3,000-hit club, from those who are close to those who give us reason to consider them because of their tremendous talent at such a young age:
It'll be close
Robinson Canó, 39 years old (2,631)
Canó was really hurt by the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and the suspension he served in ’21 for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance (the second such suspension of his career). If he had two healthy seasons over that span, he might be within 100 hits of the 3,000 mark, rather than 369 hits away. At age 39 this season, he’ll need to stay healthy for about two more years after this one to make it close.
A proven track record and enough time left
José Altuve, 31 (1,783)
Altuve is a hit machine, so it’s not at all hard to see him reaching the 3,000-hit mark someday. He’s a career .307 hitter and led the American League in hits four straight years from 2014-17, including two seasons in which he led the Majors (2014 and ’16). The big question will be health -- he hasn’t played in 150 or more games in a season since the 2017 campaign, when he was named AL MVP.
Freddie Freeman, 32 (1,722)
Freeman got off to a slow start at the plate in 2021, and still ended up with 180 hits following his MVP campaign in the pandemic-shorted ’20 season. He led the National League with 191 hits in ’18, and has a career .296 batting average. He’s also been very durable the last five years, missing only six games in that entire span.
In good shape
Manny Machado, 29 (1,445)
Still just 29 years old, Machado will reach the halfway point in the quest for 3,000 hits if he stays healthy this season. The star third baseman will have to make sure he doesn’t have an off-year at the plate every few seasons during the rest of his career, though -- the 2017 and ’19 seasons are the only two since his rookie year that he hit below .278.
Mike Trout, 30 (1,431)
The three keys for Trout when it comes to reaching 3,000 hits will be health, health and … health. When healthy, he’s the best player in baseball. Outside of 40 games when he was called up from the Minors in 2011, Trout has never hit below .281 for a season. And while he walks a ton, he should have a decent shot at the 3,000-hit club, but only if he can stay on the field enough.
Bryce Harper, 29 (1,287)
Harper, like Trout, walks at a very high rate, which means fewer opportunities for hits, but with a talent like Harper, who won his second NL MVP Award last year, you can’t put 3,000 hits out of reach, especially since he’s not even 30 years old yet. The key, as with anyone pursuing the 3,000-hit club, will be consistency, which is an area in which Harper has faltered a bit at times, though “faltering” for Harper is an All-Star season for most players.
Xander Bogaerts, 29 (1,259)
While the Red Sox were waiting for Bogaerts to start fulfilling his power potential at the plate, the young shortstop was busy racking up hits -- he averaged 176 of them per season from 2015-19, and following the shortened 2020 season, he recorded 156 more last year. He’s a career .291 hitter, and if he can continue to be steady in that department, 3,000 hits could become a reality. And now the power is here, too.
Not out of the question, but an uphill climb
Elvis Andrus, 33 (1,875)
Things were looking pretty good for Andrus through 2019, when at age 30, he had more than 1,700 hits. Three years on, not so much -- he hit just .235 from 2020-21, which has set him back in the 3,000-hit quest. It also didn’t help that the ’20 season was shortened dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eric Hosmer, 32 (1,648)
Hosmer was looking great through 2017, his final year with the Royals, when he had racked up 1,132 hits by age 27. But since signing with the Padres, his chances at 3,000 career hits have taken a hit (pardon the pun). After tallying more than 1,100 hits in seven seasons with Kansas City, he has 516 in four-plus seasons with San Diego.
Nolan Arenado, 31 (1,377)
Arenado was hurt by a 2020 season that was already shortened due to COVID-19, but also one in which he put up the worst numbers of his career at the plate, partly due to a shoulder injury. Still, as he has shown to open the ’22 season, he’s capable of going on hitting sprees and potentially jumping into the MVP conversation. As he emerges from the Coors Field stereotype, it’ll be interesting to watch how Arenado does.
Mookie Betts, 29 (1,162)
Betts has been trending down of late: In 2021, he posted his lowest OPS in a season (.854) since ’17, and he’s started slow at the plate this season. But he’s still Mookie Betts, and more than capable of producing the type of season that won him the AL MVP Award with the Red Sox in ’18. He hit .346 that year, and he has hit below .290 just twice in his eight seasons entering ’22.
Francisco Lindor, 28 (1,018)
Following a tough first year with the Mets in 2021, Lindor came out of the gate swinging in ’22, and looked like the All-Star shortstop he was in Cleveland before being traded to New York. The ’21 season was also the first in which he missed a big chunk of time on the injured list, so it’ll be vital for him to maintain his health if he wants to have a real shot at 3,000 hits on the other side of age 30.
Carlos Correa, 27 (791)
Sometimes we forget that Correa is only 27, but he’s been racking up hits in the Majors since he was 20. And he could have been even farther along on the hit chart had it not been for injuries that sidelined him for much of the 2017-19 seasons. He’s a career .275 hitter and just entering his prime, so keep an eye on Correa’s hit totals the next several years.
Ozzie Albies, 25 (628)
Albies is only 25, but he has already led the NL in hits (189 in 2019). He posted the lowest single-season batting average of his career last year (.259), but he’s shown what he’s capable of, and if he can reproduce the type of performance he delivered in '19 consistently, he’ll be in good shape.
Rafael Devers, 25 (615)
Devers is just getting started, and he’s already shown he can record more than 200 hits in a season, doing so in 2019, a year in which he also led the AL with 54 doubles and led the Majors with 359 total bases. It feels like Devers, as well as he’s hit already in his young career, is primed for a “breakout” season in which he shocks us with his production.
Juan Soto, 23 (500)
Soto may be the finest hitter in baseball today. His combination of contact, power and plate discipline are unmatched. That last trait -- the plate discipline -- could make 3,000 hits a challenge for him, as evidenced by his MLB-leading 145 walks in 2021. But you can’t put any achievement in the batter’s box past this guy, who is an all-world talent.
Ronald Acuña Jr., 24 (426)
He has 40-homer/40-steal potential year-in and year-out, but health is the big concern for Acuña, who isn’t expected to make his 2022 debut until sometime in May as he nears the end of his rehab of a torn ACL. Still, he’s a lifetime .281 hitter and you can see 200-hit potential in him -- in his last full season, in 2019, he launched 41 homers and swiped 37 bags while also producing 175 hits in 156 games. It also helps that he’s mostly been a leadoff hitter. If that continues, he will have more plate appearances than the average hitter.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 23 (390)
At 23 years and 38 days old, he's the youngest player on this list, and the sky’s the limit for Guerrero. He’s shown on many occasions so far in his career that there is plenty of reason to have confidence in his long-term outlook. The most recent was his incredible 4-for-5, three-homer performance in a game in which his hand was bloodied when it was stepped on at first base. When he finished runner-up in the 2021 AL MVP Award balloting, Guerrero had 188 hits, and could continue to follow in his Hall-of-Fame father’s footsteps in the years to come; Vladimir Guerrero Sr. was a career .318 hitter with 2,590 hits in 16 seasons.