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Who’s next on baseball’s milestone list?

In front of a crowd of over 37,000 rabid Tigers fans at Comerica Park, Miguel Cabrera became the 33rd member of baseball’s 3,000 hit club, and just the 7th player all time to reach the 3,000 hit/500 HR plateau. Cabrera still has a couple of years remaining on his contract and when he hangs it up, he will go down in history as one of the top 10 right-

handed hitters of all time. For longtime fans of the game, Cabrera’s achievement may be bittersweet. There is a very real possibility that Cabrera may be the last member of the prestigious 3,000 hit club that many of us will see in our lifetimes. Baseball has always been a game based on mythological numbers – 3,000 hits, 500 HR’s, 300 wins, etc. Let’s take a look at where active players rank in some of these categories and who is most likely to join

3,000 Hits:

As of 4/25 the top 10 active leaders in hits are as follows:

Albert Pujols – 3,308

Miguel Cabrera – 3,002

Robinson Cano – 2,631

Yadier Molina – 2,116

Joey Votto – 2,035

Nelson Cruz – 1,924

Elvis Andrus – 1,875

Andrew McCutchen – 1,840

Evan Longoria – 1,818

Jose Altuve – 1,783

Yikes. The youngest player on this list (and only player with a realistic chance) is Jose Altuve who is 32 years old. If we’re generous and project Altuve to play another 7 seasons he would have to average a minimum of 160 hits a year in order to hit the milestone. Altuve may have had a better chance without the pandemic shortened season of 2020. He’s been relatively healthy however is on the DL as we speak and would need to come back soon as time is of the essence. While it’s not uncommon to see DH’s with power play into their late 30’s, early 40’s – (think Nelson Cruz, Pujols, Cabrera), it is uncommon to see a 37, 38 year old middle infielder maintain their power and production. The verdict? 20% chance. It should be noted Robinson Cano may have had a chance however due to his suspensions and the pandemic, that ship has certainly sailed. Names to watch 30 and under: Manny Machado at 1,446 and Mike Trout at 1,433.

500 Home Runs:

As of 4/25 the top 10 active home run leaders are:

Albert Pujols – 681

Miguel Cabrera – 502

Nelson Cruz – 451

Giancarlo Stanton – 349

Robinson Cano – 335

Joey Votto – 331

Evan Longoria – 317

Mike Trout – 314

Paul Goldschmidt – 280

Nolan Arenado – 274

Freddie Freeman – 274

This list shows a little more promise. Nelson Cruz was a little bit of a late bloomer in his career and could have benefitted from being called up earlier in his career. It seems unlikely he’ll be able to hit the 500 mark but if he has a 30 HR season at age 41, anything is possible. Giancarlo Stanton would need to average about 5 more seasons of 30 HR’s or more which is very feasible at 32 years old. The question with Stanton as always is health. If he can stay healthy, he is a pretty safe bet to hit the mark. Mike Trout is another player to keep an eye on. At only 30 years old he is also a relatively safe bet, once again assuming health. Some days off from the field may help preserve his career trajectory. Bryce Harper with 269 career homers is another name to keep an eye on.

300 Wins:

Active wins leaders as of 4/25:

Justin Verlander – 227

Zack Greinke – 219

Max Scherzer – 193

Clayton Kershaw – 188

Adam Wainwright – 186

David Price – 155

Johnny Cueto – 135

Madison Bumgarner – 127

Gerrit Cole – 118

Lance Lynn – 115

In the immortal words of Kevin McCallister, “Buzz, you’re girlfiend…Woof.” Realistically speaking, we may never see another 300 game winner again. The game has changed from the emphasis on strong starting pitching and moved toward an emphasis on a deep bullpen. Because of this, the era of perennial 20 game winners may have seen it’s final days. Justin Verlander is 39 years old and has expressed interest in pitching until he is 45 years old however I remain skeptical. The first 4 names on this list are sure fire Hall of Famers especially when compared to their peers and in another statistical area in which they have excelled in their careers…

3,000 Strikeouts

Active leaders as of 4/25:

Max Scherzer – 3,043

Justin Verlander – 3.033

Zack Greinke – 2,811

Clayton Kershaw – 2,693

Chris Sale – 2,059

David Price – 2,044

Adam Wainwright – 2,026

Anibal Sanchez – 1,726

Stephen Strasburg – 1,718

Prior to 1995 only 12 pitchers reached the 3,000K mark. On this list both Scherzer and Verlander have already reached the milestone and if Greinke pitches another season after this one he should be able to hit the mark as well. Kershaw will reach the mark so long as he wants to continue pitching. As mentioned above longevity is becoming a thing of the past and as starters pitch less innings you’ll most likely see less pitchers hit the milestones of the past. What is interesting however is that in today’s era of launch angles and all or nothing swings, today’s pitchers are recording strikeouts at a higher rate than ever before. As matter of fact if you look at the top 20 list of strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, 15 of the top 20 are active players.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see what metrics the game will use to judge the all time greats, especially those who will be forever enshrined in Cooperstown.

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27 de abr. de 2022

Totally agree with the 300 win assessment…. I’ve felt for years that although I love this stat, the game has changed so much that it’s just not realistic anymore…I remember thinking Jack Morris had a shot, then teeters out around 250 because he pitched WAY too many complete games… thought Mike Mussina would do it, but just decided to retire around 270…I mean, The top 50 all time is littered with guys who overstayed their welcome and still finished with 230-250 (CC Sabathia, Jayme Moyer, Bartolo Colon…). chances are slim we see many more even hit 250-275 anymore.

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