Earlier in the month, David Wright recorded his 1,500th career hit. The hit naturally extended his All-Time Met hit record and puts him halfway to the vaunted 3,000 hit plateau.
One can argue that the club, currently standing at 28 and including some of the game’s biggest and most iconic names, is still one of the most prestigious statistical club in sports today, though with Rafael Palmerio on the outside looking in of the baseball Hall of Fame because of actual steroid implication, and Craig Biggio on the outside looking in of the Hall on guilt by association charges and of course the All-Time Hit King Pete Rose‘s tarnished image the “automatic induction” label isn’t with the plateau, for the moment anyway. Besides, for what its worth while Palmerio and Biggio became the first two club members not to get elected on their first years of eligibility (Rose never officially got onto a ballot) since that became a “thing” following 1962′s induction of Bob Feller and Jackie Robinson, a few members of the club wound up waiting some time before enshrinement. Regardless though, it still is a pretty nifty club to be a part of. But, the question is, will the Mets’ Hit King obtain membership?
First, a look at the active hit leaders shows that Wright is 30th (FWIW, Jose Reyes is right behind his 1,513 with exactly 1,500 hits as an interesting tidbit) among active leaders and is among the youngest at 30 years of age. This is also Wright’s 10th season, so while one can see, barring injury Wright hanging around for another 10 seasons or more, the chances of him getting to 3,000 do seem a bit slim.
Now, consider that the average age of the members of the 3,000 hit club at the time of their 3,000th hit is 39, with only 8 being 37 or younger;
First is the top 5 of the club, all with 3,500 or more total hits
Pete Rose at 37
Ty Cobb at 34
Hank Aaron at 36
Stan Musial at 37
Tris Speaker at 37
The the current active leader, and 11th all time with 3,304, who hasn’t played yet in 2013, Derek Jeter at 37
Robin Yount at 36 who is at 18th all time with 3,142
And finally Roberto Clemente who was 37 when he got his 3,000th and final hit.
Which means as prestigious as the club is, it is still a marathon to get to, and it is telling that only Eddie Collins as a part-time utility guy, Carl Yastrzemski on the strength of the DH rule, and the top 4 guys Rose, Cobb, Aaron and Musial lasted 4 or more seasons beyond the year they notched their 3,000th hit.
So the milestone can be considered more of a final feather in the cap of a career well done more so than just another rung on the ladder. Not that a player necessarily should feel like stopping at hit number 3,000 like in that Bernie Mac film, but those in the more upper 3,000s have gotten their 3,000th hit at such a young enough age that piling up the hit totals just meant they had a lot more left in the tank.
Getting back to Wright, considering that continuing at his pace of 183 hits per season over the course of the next 7 years, which will be a year after his current contract runs out, he will be at 2,795 hits and 37 years of age. One would also have to factor in that his production would be in decline by that point as well. Especially manning such a demanding position as the Hot Corner, so one would suspect to keep his numbers up, or to stem his decline Wright would probably have to change positions at some point down the road if getting to a milestone like 3,000 means much to him.
And keep in mind that he doesn’t have a 200 hit season under his belt yet. Something that due to its roundness tends to be factored into measuring the pace a player needs to be in order to get to 3,000, which is a 15 year clip of averaging 200 hits per year, as opposed to the 20 years of averaging 150 hits per season. Only Yastrzemski, Eddie Murray, Dave Winfeld, Rickey Henderson, and the oldest member of the club to get to 3,000 at 43, and incidentally the first member of the club, Cap Anson have been able to gain membership into the 3,000th Hit Club without a 200 hit season. And for the most part those players had the luxury of the Designated Hitter rule in the American League, and playing less stressful positions, such as the outfield.
Now, while it would appear that barring a move to a less demanding position that would not only extend his career, but keep his production at roughly the same career average, it looks like Wright will fall short. Not that its a bad thing at all as iconic Hall of Famers such as Frank Robinson, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Reggie Jackson, Ernie Banks and Joe Morgan never achieved the 3,000 hit plateau. In fact, while 3,000 is a pretty exclusive club, through June of 2013 only 95 players in baseball history have notched 2,500 or more hits. So Wright would still be in pretty nifty company even if he records only 1,000 more base hits.