Who will be the next MLB player to reach 3,000 hits? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
MLB’s 3,000-hit club got a new member on Saturday.
In his first at-bat against the Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera singled to right field for the 3,000th hit of his 20-year big-league career.
Cabrera joined rare company by reaching the milestone. He’s now one of just three players in MLB history, along with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, with career marks of at least 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and a .300 batting average.
He’s also the 33rd player to reach 3,000 hits and the first since St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols in May 2018. So who will be the next big leaguer to join the elusive 3,000-hit club?
Who is the closest active MLB player to 3,000 hits?
It could be a long time before we see another player tally his 3,000th hit.
After Pujols and Cabrera, the active MLB player with the most hits is New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano is less than 400 hits away from 3,000, currently sitting at 2,631.
The eight-time All-Star’s bid to reach the milestone took a massive hit last year, as he was suspended for the entire 2021 campaign due to a second positive PED test. Now, Cano will probably need a few more seasons as a full-time player to have a shot at 3K. And it’s far from certain he’ll get that opportunity. At 39 years old, Cano is only under contract with New York through 2023 and has gotten off to a rough start in 2022.
There are just two other active players with over 2,000 hits: Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
While Molina has been known more for his defensive prowess behind the dish throughout his 19-year career, the nine-time Gold Glover has also racked up 2,116 hits. Molina won’t get to 3,000 though, as the 39-year-old plans to retire after this season.
Meanwhile, Votto reached the 2,000-hit milestone last August and is now up to 2,035. But recording 900-plus more hits will be an extremely tall task for the 2010 NL MVP, who turns 39 in September.
The closest active player to 2,000 hits is Washington Nationals DH Nelson Cruz with 1,924. However, just like Cano, Molina and Votto, Cruz is up against father time at 41 years old.
Of the other nine active players with at least 1,500 hits, the best 3,000-hit candidates are Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman. Both stars are approaching 1,800 hits in their age-32 seasons, with Altuve at 1,783 and Freeman at 1,722.
But we’re talking several years down the line until either is even knocking on the door of 3,000. For instance, if you optimistically marked up Altuve for 180 hits per season over the next five years, he would still be over 300 away from the milestone entering his age-37 season.
Looking even further down the line, there are two players who should reach 1,500 hits this season that could eventually make a run at 3,000. San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado has 1,445 hits at age 29 and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout has 1,431 at age 30.
Here’s a full look at the 13 active players other than Pujols and Cabrera with at least 1,500 hits (numbers through April 23):
Robinson Cano, age 39, New York Mets: 2,631 hits
Yadier Molina, age 39, St. Louis Cardinals: 2,116
Joey Votto, age 38, Cincinnati Reds: 2,035
Nelson Cruz, age 41, Washington Nationals: 1,924
Elvis Andrus, age 33, Oakland A’s: 1,875
Andrew McCutchen, age 35, Milwaukee Brewers: 1,839
Evan Longoria, age 36, San Francisco Giants: 1,818
Jose Altuve, age 32, Houston Astros: 1,783
Justin Upton, age 34: 1,748
Freddie Freeman, age 32, Los Angeles Dodgers: 1,722
Eric Hosmer, age 32, San Diego Padres: 1,648
Michael Brantley, age 35, Houston Astros: 1,584
Paul Goldschmidt, age 34, St. Louis Cardinals: 1,583