Reaching The 3,000 Hits Milestone Is Even More Impressive Today!!!
The “3,000 Hits Club” has been on my mind continuously for the last several weeks. It all started when I completed this set.
And now a few weeks later, I am starting to believe that it is this baseball milestone that separates the elite from the great. In baseball history, just 27 have reached or eclipsed that milestone. Yes, I said 27. And amazingly I have been able to enjoy the careers of 12 of the 27 players to accomplish this feat.
But for some reason I think that this specific achievement gets overlooked by today’s fans. Today’s fan wants to see the long-ball – the guy that drives the ball 500 feet into the night. Today’s fan would prefer to see a guy go 2-for-10 in a series while banging out 2 homers. But me, I would rather see the guy that nabs 5 hit in 13 plate appearances in that same series.
And with so many players that I grew up watching now departing the game, the “3,000 Hit Club” doesn’t claim any of them. Frank Thomas didn’t do it. Barry Bonds could not get there. Nor could Mike Piazza or Ken Griffey Jr. And with the retirement of Chipper Jones on the horizon, he too will not reach this historic number.
Think about how much dedication it takes to get there. Think about how injury-free a player must remain to have this kind of offensive impact. If a player collects 175 hits per year, he would need more than 17 years of consistency to reach this goal. And while 17-year careers happen all of the time in baseball, we usually see a sharp decline during the latter.
So now I look ahead. Who is out there that can join this special group of players?
Derek Jeter is next in line. And at the age of 37, he should reach 3,00 sometime during the first half of the 2011 baseball season. After Jeter, the next closest to the mark amongst active players is Ivan Rodriguez who is 240 hits away from this goal. ‘Pudge’ has barely played in half of his team’s games this year and the likelihood of him collecting more than 200 hits before he retires is unlikely. From there we have Alex Rodriguez who will surely join the club in about 3 years or so. And not too far behind A-Rod are Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon who are both more than 400 hits away and nearing the end of their careers.
In this age of baseball, it not only takes commitment by the player to make the dream of 3,000 a reality, but it takes the commitment of the team’s management too. While playing in such a ‘business-minded’ era of baseball, players are moved more often than prior generations. And with the ‘What have you done for me lately’ concept of running a team in full-swing, if a team is not committed to a player, they can be a major hinderance in holding back the player’s ability to perform and achieve.
Summing this up, I firmly believe that the “3,000 Hits Club” is the most impressive offensive accomplishment in the sport of baseball. With very few members, and not too many potential new ones on the horizon, this club includes the greatest hitters that our favorite sport has ever seen. And all of them remain untarnished by what has ruined some of the other notable baseball milestones.