In honor of Ichiro Suzuki getting his 4000th hit in his professional career – and Pete Rose reminding everyone that those hits in Japan shouldn’t count, I thought I’d see who was chasing Rose by age group and determine if anyone had a chance to catch him.
Before I do, though, let’s remind Rose that Ichiro didn’t start playing in the US until his was 27 and when he got here he was already a dominant hitter (.350, 242 hits). Had he come to the US when he was younger, he likely would have had at least five additional years of 200 hits or so – which means he might already have 3700 hits in the US and a legitimate shot at having more hits than Rose.
But that’s no matter…
Let’s do this by age as the oldest active hitter right now is Jason Giambi. Giambi leads all 42 year olds in hits with 1968 coming into the season and is a threat to make it to 2000, but not much further. #2 on this list is Brian Giles, who hasn’t played in forever…
(41) The leaders at 41 are all in the clubhouse – literally. Pudge Rodriguez had 2844 hits, followed by Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, and Garret Anderson. The active leader in this group is Andy Pettitte, with 27.
(40) Like 42, this is not a prolific hitting group, led by the long-retired Shawn Green at 2003.
(39) The first age with a challenger – Derek Jeter. Jeter was making progress until this year, where he has but four hits. He needed another year of around 200. At 3308, he needs about 950 hits to catch Rose, which means playing well until he is at least 45. That’s not likely. He could finish in the top five, though. Suzuki is on this list – 2722 as of this week.
(38) Vlad Guerrero leads people at 38 with 2590, but he is done (sadly). Bengie Molina is the active leader, assuming he still has a job at the end of the year.
(37) Alex Rodriguez opened the year with 2901, and then sat most of it out. He would likely have cleared 3000, and even if he played long enough to fulfill his contract, I don’t see him getting the additional 1300 hits he’s going to need to catch Rose. He’d have to play until he is 47, which is chemically possible.
Paul Konerko and Torii Hunter are the other active leaders, but neither would be expected to make it to 2500, much less 3000. David Ortiz and Lance Berkman might make it to 2000 – Ortiz could make it by the end of the year with a hot streak, and push toward 2500 before it’s over.
(36) Michael Young leads the group, with Carlos Beltran behind him. Young looked like a candidate to make a run for 3000 at one point, but now looks like he might run out of gas without making 2500. Beltran’s knees may betray him before he makes 2500, too.
(35) The leader in the clubhouse is Juan Pierre, but it’s going to be tough to make it to 3000 (he has about 800 to go) as a fourth outfielder. Aramis Ramirez will make a run toward about 2400 before it ends.
(34) Adrian Beltre will finish 2013 with about 2400 hits. He looks to be on a good roll, but he’s reached the age at which, well, age matters. I think he may finish with the same number of hits as George Brett. Jimmy Rollins has closed in on 2200, but he isn’t going to make it to 3000 without finding the foutain of youth.
(33) Albert Pujols dominates this age group, but the last two years, including an injury-plagued 2013, have slowed his pace. He’s less than 700 hits from 3000, which still seams easily within reach, but going deep in the 3000s no longer seems probable. Matt Holiday passed Mark Teixeira this year, but he still needs about 300 to get to 2000 and will make a run at 3000, but not without staying healthy and productive for at least six more years.
(32) To have a shot at 4000 hits, someone who is 32 should already be well past 2000 hits. Alex Rios leads this group and will finish the year with more than 1500 hits. He’ll make it to 2000, but he won’t make 2500.
(31) The leader at this age group, Carl Crawford, seemed on his way after, say, 2009. He has lost his momentum, though, and may be hard pressed to turn what will be about 1800 hits to 3000. Adrian Gonzalez is on this list – pushing 1500, but hard pressed to make much more than 2500.
(30) Miguel Cabrera dominates this age group – he will finish 2013 around 2000 hits. I don’t see him averaging 200 hits a year until he’s 40, but he could average 160 hits a year for that long. That means he needs to play two or three more years beyond 40 to get to 4000 hits. Obviously this is conjecture, but Cabrera is the only guy with even a SMALL chance of competing with Pete Rose, but you never know. I’m rooting for him.
The rest of the 30s, including Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano, and David Wright, will push 2500, but not much more. Reyes may not stay healthy enough to make 2000…
(29) Leading this group are Nick Markakis, Prince Fielder, Hanley Ramirez, and Ryan Braun, all between 1300 and 1400 hits. None of these will make 3000 hits, much less 4000.
(28) You’d think you might have a bunch of hitters with well over 1200 hits here, but you have one – Ryan Zimmerman. None of the really good hitters in this age group (Matt Kemp, Troy Tulowitzki) started the year over 1000 – or can stay healthy.
(27) Billy Butler passed 1000 this year and is rolling past 1100 now. Adam Jones is making a run at 1000 by the end of the season. After that, nobody has made any real progress. Those are the only two making any run at 2000 hits – and will be hard pressed to make 2500.
(26) The top bat in this group will likely be Andrew McCutchen, who will finish the year north of 800. Ten years of 170 hits would be 2500, and he’d have some time to make 3000. Austin Jackson might make 2000, as could Pablo Sandoval, if he becomes a DH.
(25) Nobody is challenging Justin Upton, who will be short of 800 hits by the end of the season. I thought he had the best chance to have statistics that looked like Hank Aaron going into 2012, but he hasn’t taken that next step forward. If he gets going, he could make 3000. If not, he might not make 2000 and that would be sad.
(24) The early leader is Elvis Andrus, who will be around 800 at the end of 2013. That’s where you need to be at this point – pushing that first 1000 at the end of your age 25 season. His glove will keep him around and he seems to be making marginal progress every year. He needs to stay at the top of the lineup to get the at bats, but he is best poised for 3000 hits of the younger players.
(23) Starlin Castro is having an off year in 2013, but will still finish the year around 700 hits. Jason Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton are on this list – but already a couple of hundred hits off Castro’s pace. The other young hitters are just getting started. Castro is the one to watch. If he can start rattling off hits for the next seven years, he could be well on the way to a big number.
(22) Heading into this season, there were no players with any active history. That doesn’t bode bell for someone running far beyond 2000 hits.
(21) Mike Trout – 209 hits heading into the season, 400 hits at the end of the season. That’s the kind of start that suggests a big number in the future – we can check in ten years and see what is happening…
(20) Bryce Harper and Manny Machado – both are capable and just getting started.