Accumulating 3,000 hits is one of baseball’s most hallowed and impressive statistical feats. Reaching it requires a combination of remarkable consistency and longevity that only 33 players have achieved in the sport’s long history. As the game changes and there is a greater focus on power over batting average reaching 3,000 hits is possibly even more difficult than ever.
That said, some modern players are making a run at history and have a legitimate chance to reach the mark, here are the active players that could reach 3,000 hits in order by their current hit totals.
Active Players Who Could Reach 3,000 Hits
Freddie Freeman: 1B, LAD
No player better represents remarkable consistency than Freddie Freeman, the 2020 NL MVP has hit .295 or better in each of the last eight seasons and nine of the last 11. Entering his age-34 season and is under contract for the next four seasons and has 2,114 career hits, meaning he needs 886 to reach the magic number. That’s an average of 221.5 hits per season which is certainly infeasible, but if he manages to maintain even a percentage of his all-star-level performance beyond his contract he will certainly play longer.
If he follows a similar career path as Albert Pujols and plays full seasons until he’s 39 years old, he would need to average a much more manageable 148 hits per season. Over the last six seasons, he has hit .314, averaging 172 hits a season across 632 plate appearances (546 at-bats). If he maintains that level of production he’ll clear 3,000 easily but that is unlikely.
Even if he plays much less, with 550 plate appearances a year for the next six seasons he would average 149.3 hits per season and still hit the number. Conversely, if he averaged 525 at-bats per season (600 plate appearances) approximately he would need to hit a much more doable .282 over the next several seasons. Overall, he has a good chance to make some history.
Manny Machado: 3B, SDP
Manny Machado quietly put together some very impressive numbers in his 20s and as he enters his age-31 season he’s put himself in a very good position to reach the 3,000 hits plateau. He already has 1,737 hits and has 10 more seasons on his contract meaning he needs to average just 127 hits a season to hit 3,000. That is more than a possibility for a guy who has averaged 145 hits in 132 games over his career and his chances look even better when you consider the fact that he’s accumulated more than 600 plate appearances in each of the last three seasons.
Even if he needs more rest days as he enters his 30s or gets injured a few times in the back half of his career he could still get there. Over the last three seasons he has hit .278 and averaged 156 hits in 147 games, at that pace he would need to play just 120 games a year to reach 3,000. So far in his career he has stayed healthy and is still one of the most athletic players in the game, in a league where he can move off third or even DH it seems like he could hit his way into baseball immortality.
Xander Bogaerts: SS, SDP
From San Diego Padres free agent signing to another, Xander Bogaerts is the same age as Machado and is in a similar position due to the massive 11-year contract he signed last offseason. So far in 11 years he has hit .291 with 1,580 hits and has amassed at least 580 plate appearances in each season (excluding 2020). Excluding his first two seasons when he was just 20 and 21 years old he has hit .297 and averaged 160 a year over nine seasons.
At that pace, Bogaerts would finish his contract with 3,180 hits which would place him 17th on the all-time leaderboard. Assuming his performance dips, which it likely will, he could average 142 hits a season and still reach 3,000. A number that he reaches in an average of 124 games over his career. Overall, thanks to his contract, durability, and consistency he could suffer several setbacks over the next decade and still have a shot at 3,000.
Rafael Devers: 3B, BOS
Rafael Devers has been one of the game’s best young hitters for so long that many fans have forgotten how young he is. Despite already accumulating 919 hits over seven seasons he is still only 27 years old. Since his first qualified season in 2019, he has hit .287 and averaged 150 hits per season and he could still get better. He crushes the ball as well as anybody with expected stats that are through the roof, he hits the ball to all fields, and he doesn’t strike out that much either. He does chase a lot but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a high average contact hitter. As well, as he gets older his approach will likely get better and even if he loses some power with age he’ll always be able to hit the ball hard.
He has 10 years left on his mega extension with the Boston Red Sox and that only takes him to his age 37 season so he could play longer after that. If he manages to play 12 more years in the big leagues he would need to average 174 hits per season to get to the magic number and while that seems very daunting, Devers is one of the best pure hitters in MLB right now. If he manages 578 plate appearances a season and maintains an average of .300 he will reach 3,000 hits by the end of his career.
Ronald Acuna Jr OF, ATL, and Juan Soto OF, NYY
It seems Ronald Acuna Jr proved to everyone that it is foolish to bet against him. He is just 26 years old and already has an MVP, a Rookie of the Year, and three Silver Slugger awards. He has a career .292 average and has 767 hits despite missing half a season and struggling for another due to a torn ACL. If he plays until he is 39 years old he would play an additional 14 seasons and need to average 160 hits a year to reach 3,000. If he hits .300 each year he will need just 534 at-bats to hit the number on time. Say from ages 26-39 he has seasons with varying averages of .275 to .325, but he still ends up at 3,000 knocks. A very reasonable expectation for one of the league’s elite players.
As for Juan Soto, he is a year younger than Acuna but has accumulated 768 hits over six seasons with a career .284 average through his age-24 season. He is a three-time all-star, three-time Silver Slugger, and has finished top 10 in MVP four times. He might be the best pure hitter in baseball, he makes frequent and solid contact, he gets on base more than anyone, and his very mature approach will keep him consistent well into his 30s. If he plays 15 more seasons (through age 39) he would need to average 149 hits per season so if he maintains his .284 average he would need just 523 at-bats per year to reach 3,000. While it isn’t a certainty Soto has started about as well as you can on a quest to baseball history.
Reaching 3,000 hits is one of the toughest things to do in baseball, it requires remarkable play and consistency over a long career. it requires defying the aging curve and producing well into his 30s and maybe even into his 40s. Since Miguel Cabrera accomplished the feat in 2022 fans have wondered who will do it next and the players listed above are the best chance we have to see another milestone moment from an active player.
Main Image: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports