On May 14, 2012, Placido Polanco became baseball’s newest member of the 2,000-hit club. Polanco’s 2,000th career hit was delivered in dramatic fashion, as he hit his first home run of the season – a two-run shot – in the late innings of the Philadelphia Phillies’ 5-1 victory against the Houston Astros.
Polanco is the 269th player in MLB history to reach 2,000 career hits. While Polanco is by no means a future Hall-of-Famer, collecting 2,000 hits is still an impressive feat and should not be scoffed at by baseball fans. How difficult is it to collect 2,000 hits in a career? If a player registered 13 seasons of 150 hits, he would have 1,950 hits (50 hits short). In other words, a player would have to reach 150 hits in 13 of 14 MLB seasons to reach 2,000 career hits. To put that in perspective: Hall-of-Famer Wade Boggs (3,010 career hits) only had 11 150-hit seasons in his 18-season career!
To reach 2,000 hits, a player would have to be not only somewhat injury-free, but he must also be lucky enough to receive many at-bats in a season. If a player receives 500 at-bats in a season, then he must finish the season with a .300 AVG (150 hits in 500 at-bats is a .300 AVG). Hitting .300 for 13 out of 14 seasons is no small task. If a player cannot remain that consistent, he will need to be fortunate enough to have more than 500 at-bats in some seasons and collect some 200-hit seasons.
Although Boggs only had 11 150-hit seasons in his 18-year MLB career, he was a dominant player at times. In 1985, Boggs posted his best season with 161 games played and a staggering 240 hits (Boggs achieved 200-plus hits seven times in his career)! For his career, Boggs averaged 200 hits and 609 at-bats per 162 games played. In his 18 MLB seasons, Boggs appeared in less than 150 games 12 times. In the 2011 MLB season, only 19 players had 600 or more at-bats; 15 of them had 609 or more at-bats.
If 2,000 hits – the equivalent of hitting .300 (150/500) for 13 out of 14 seasons – seems difficult enough, achieving a Boggs-like 3,000 hits is more tremendously difficult. Achieving 3,000 hits would be the equivalent of 20 150-hit seasons (Boggs only played 18 seasons and achieved 150 hits 11 times). Baseball fans should comprehend the great difficulty in achieving 2,000 hits, let alone 3,000 and appreciate the long-term productivity that players display in achieving either of those milestones. Below is a list of some notable players who failed to reach the 2,000-hit club (currently active players are noted by *).
Jeff Conine: 1,982 hits (.285 AVG)
Fred Lynn: 1,960 hits (.283 AVG)
*Jason Giambi: 1,954 hits (.281 AVG)
*Carlos Beltran: 1,953 hits (.283 AVG)
Jim Edmonds: 1,949 hits (.284 AVG)
Steve Sax: 1,949 hits (.281 AVG)
Juan Gonzalez: 1,936 hits (.295 AVG)
Devon White: 1,934 hits (.263 AVG)
Gil Hodges: 1,921 hits (.273 AVG)
*David Ortiz: 1,807 hits (.285 AVG)
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson: 1,772 hits (.356 AVG)
Shoeless Joe’s final MLB season was in 1920 before the bans of the players involved in the “Black Sox” scandal went into effect. At that time, Jackson was 32 years of age. It is reasonable to assume he would have reached 2,000 hits with ease; however, 3,000 hits would have been difficult even for the great Shoeless Joe. Several of my favorite players also failed to reach 2,000 career hits: Sean Casey (.302 AVG) had 1,531 hits and John Kruk (.300 AVG) had 1,170 hits.
In my opinion, Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. Jones (.304 career AVG) currently has 2,642 hits. Jones – who is 40 years of age – might have been approaching – if not already having surpassed – 3,000 hits at this time if it were not for the misfortune of missing many games over the years due to injuries. For Jones to reach the heralded 3,000-hit milestone, he would certainly have to play beyond the 2012 MLB season. The fact that Jones is this close to 3,000 hits is even more remarkable when one considers how many games he missed due to injuries over the years and how many walks he draws on a regular basis each season.
I hope my readers now have a greater understanding and appreciation for the difficulty involved in achieving milestones. Even if a milestone like 2,000 hits is not a Hall-of-Fame benchmark, it is still an impressive feat that required long-term consistency and should be appreciated.