Which MLB players could accumulate more hits than Derek Jeter?
During Saturday's Yankees game, shortstop Derek Jeter slapped a ball just past the pitcher's mound and legged out an infield hit, passing Honus Wagner to take sole-possession of sixth place all-time with 3,431.
As we bid farewell to the Yankees' Captain and marvel at his career accomplishments, we're also looking toward the future for a bright young MLB star whose name might one day hold the same clout in baseball's record books. Specifically, we looked at the guys who might have a shot at one day also passing Honus Wagner and possibly Jeets. Cross your fingers, everybody:
Hold Your Breath for the Final Act
Adrian Beltre - 35, 2,549 hits - When he's not adamantly discouraging people from touching his head, Adrian Beltre is melting faces with hits. Since breaking into the bigs in 1998, Beltre has had a dozen seasons with at least 140 hits including his 200-hit 2004. He had more hits than Jeter through their respective 25-year-old seasons and was trailing by only 34 hits through their 30-year-old campaigns. Beltre's 35 and only needs 451 hits to reach 3,000 and have Jeter on his horizon.
Albert Pujols - 34, 2,473 hits - Pujols is a hitting machine. The guy rattled off 12 straight 170-hit seasons to start his impressive career, including a league-best 212 in '03. And that streak was only broken because he played just 99 games last year. Pujols is less than 1,000 hits behind the Captain and has averaged 193 hits/year throughout his careers. *Carries the one* He's got an outside shot, depending on how his last few years treat him health-wise.
Hit or Get Off the Pot
Miguel Cabrera - 31, 2,125 hits - Among "active" players, only Alex Rodriguez had more hits through his 25 and 30-year-old seasons than Miggy. He's already passed the 2,100 mark. 2014 will likely be his 10th straight season with at least 175 hits. The big problem here is walks. Through their 30-year-old seasons, Miggy had walked 220 more times than Jeter. That could be an issue for Miggy as he sets his sights on No. 2.
Robinson Cano - 31, 1,791 hits - Jeter's former teammate and double-play partner is 31 and hasn't even reached 1,800 hits yet, but that's not necessarily a reason to count him out. Jay-Z's star client hasn't started to depreciate at the plate as he earned 204 knocks in 161 games as a 26-year-old, but is currently hitting .335 and could certainly eclipse 200 eclipse that mark at 31. At 196 hits/season, Cano would have to play 17.346 years to reach 3,400 hits. Stranger things have happened.
David Wright - 31, 1676 hits - Through 10 Major League seasons, the man manning the hot corner for the Mets has amassed more than 1,600 hits. Keep in mind that that figure was hindered some by a back fracture that put Wright on the shelf for a good chunk of 2011. Wright should need at least 10 more seasons to reach 3,400 and that's only if he gets after it sooner than later.
Too Young to Know for Sure, But That Pace is Impressive
Jose Altuve - 24, 563 hits - The Astros' second baseman currently leads the bigs in hits this season with 158 and is well on-pace to surpass his 2012 and '13 marks. It's his fourth season in the majors, so it's far too early to tell, but Jeter only had 807 hits through his 25-year-old season and Altuve is lookin' like he'll have that in his rearview by the end of next year.
Starlin Castro - 24, 818 hits - The Cubs phenom is 24 years old with 818 hits to his name. Jeter didn't reach 818 until part-way through his 26-year-old season. Castro is helped immensely by the fact that he doesn't really walk, as he's on-pace to have about half of the free bases that Jeter had through age 25. Again, it's far too early into Castro's career for us to be able to legitimately expect his career arc to resemble The Captain's, but the kid is off to one hell of a head start.
Bryce Harper - 21, 308 hits - After Derek Jeter's 21-year-old season he had earned a whopping 12 big-league hits. Bryce Harper hit 22 home runs when he was 19. We're practically two decades from the day Harper might have Jeter's final tally all lined up for the taking, but it's fun to hypothesize about Harper's potential career figures and as of this very second, 3,500 isn't out of reach.
Mike Trout - 23, 527 hits- According to the ZIPs projection model there's a 10-percent chance that Mike Trout's career numbers look like this: .319/.430/.577 with 3,550 hits, 625 home runs and 170 WAR. That last figure would be second all-time only to Sir Babe Ruth. It would also put him some 150 hits past Jeter, so there's that. And even if he comes up shy of 3,400, this guy's gonna be fun to watch for the next 20 years.