Derek Jeter And 3,000 Hits: What Usually Happens After The Milestone?

NEW YORK, NY : Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees follows through on a first inning base hit against the Cleveland Indians. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Derek Jeter is one of the youngest players to 3,000 hits. What happened to the other members of the 3,000-hit club in the seasons after reaching the milestone?

Derek Jeter is in the 3,000-hit club, though it's possible that his days of being a great -- or even above-average -- player are over. This is not a new combination. Getting 3,000 hits and then fading away is like the peanut butter and jelly of great players. Though because one of the things in this analogy isn't exactly desirable, the flavor of jelly would have to be something nasty. Peanut butter and turnip jelly, then. But several members of the 3,000-hit club were winding down their careers when they reached the milestone.

It's an obvious correlation -- you get to 3,000 hits by playing for a long time, and playing for a long time usually means that you get old. Science! But of the 27 hitters who made the club before Jeter, there were a few of them who weren't necessarily on their way out. Here's a look at 3,000-hit club, grouped by how they did in the seasons after they joined the club:

In the club, out of the game

Al Kaline, Wade Boggs, Rafael Palmeiro, Lou Brock, Rod Carew, and Craig Biggio all got their 3,000th hit in their final season. Kaline finished with 3,007 hits in his age-39 season, finishing the year with a .262/.337/.389 line. Boggs had a .377 on-base percentage in his last season, so if he didn't get his final ten hits, he probably could have stayed around for a year as a rich man's Dave Magadan.

And though Roberto Clemente is technically a member of this group, that's only because of his untimely death. In his age-37 season, Clemente hit .312/.356/.479 to finish with exactly 3,000 hits. If Jon Matlack doesn't hang a first-inning curve in this game, Clemente might not be in the club at all.


On their way out

These players didn't play more than a season or two after their 3,000th hit, and they weren't especially productive. For the remainder of the article, all of the stats are for the seasons after the 3,000 hit milestone was reached:

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Rickey Henderson 102 251 47 55 7 1 7 21 49 63 .219 .356 .339 86 Two 43

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Eddie Murray 207 733 82 184 28 1 25 97 76 113 .251 .316 .394 80 Two 39

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
George Brett 145 560 69 149 31 3 19 75 39 67 .266 .312 .434 94 One 39

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Cal Ripken 128 477 43 114 16 0 14 68 26 63 .239 .276 .361 70 One 39

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Nap Lajoie 242 916 73 242 38 9 3 96 25 42 .264 .288 .335 90 Two 39

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Paul Molitor 261 1040 138 305 61 9 14 158 90 114 .293 .343 .410 95 Two 39

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Robin Yount 127 454 62 117 25 3 8 51 44 93 .258 .326 .379 90 One 36

 

Yount was the youngest of the group, and that's because he was in the majors when he was 18, though a lot of those Woodland Hills kids probably lied about their age to get a bigger bonus.

Molitor is here only because he didn't fit well anywhere else, but while he hit .305/.351/.435 in his penultimate season, that was only good for a 104 OPS+ in the hitter-friendly 1987 season. And, like Eddie Murray, he got his 3,000th in the middle of a really productive season.


Could still hit, couldn't stay on the field

I wouldn't be surprised if Tony Gwynn could hit .300 today, even considering his weight gain and health problems

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Tony Gwynn 107 229 22 74 21 1 2 34 19 13 .323 .373 .450 117 Two 39

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Paul Waner 175 368 46 110 20 1 1 43 65 17 .299 .406 .367 122 Three 39

 

 

Put together a couple of nice seasons, at least

All of these players had at least one or  two more seasons in which they were still better than most of their peers.

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Willie Mays 290 870 141 218 45 6 32 108 199 218 .251 .391 .426 133 Three 39

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Eddie Collins 249 643 120 216 47 5 2 84 124 21 .336 .445 .434 129 Five 38

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Carl Yastrzemski 446 1541 176 410 81 3 48 231 206 145 .266 .352 .416 107 Four 39

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Tris Speaker 355 1253 195 386 117 16 12 189 159 28 .308 .389 .456 119 Three 37

 

Player
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Honus Wagner 353 1228 128 340 54 27 7 141 97 117 .277 .336 .382 118 Three 40

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Cap Anson 344 1300 226 413 58 11 7 256 164 60 .318 .398 .395 104 Two 42

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Stan Musial 613 1814 223 514 80 10 77 317 252 183 .283 .369 .466 118 Five 37

 

Cap Anson was 42, but that's only if you include his National Association numbers, which Baseball Reference does. If you exclude those hits, which Major League Baseball does, he was 45, which would make him the oldest player to get his 3,000th hit.


Freaks

These players probably weren't human.

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Hank Aaron 722 2412 368 661 84 6 163 455 375 282 .274 .370 .517 145 Six 36

 

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Ty Cobb 865 3198 620 1136 228 61 36 563 398 98 .355 .430 .498 141 Seven 34

 

 

 

 

Aaron had his arguably his best season the year after his 3,000th hit, putting up a .327/.410/.669 line with 47 home runs, and Cobb hit .401 in the season following his milestone. If they were using a performance-enhancing substance, it was probably motor oil, as they were robots and/or cyborgs, and you know how they love drinking motor oil.

 

Pete Rose

This group includes Pete Rose.

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ Seasons after 3,000 Age at 3,000
Pete Rose 1057 3857 508 1092 174 24 10 360 481 244 .283 .365 .348 98 Eight 37

 

And what a weird group that is. He led the National League in doubles the year he passed 3,000 hits, and led the NL in on-base percentage the following year. He obviously had something left. But after hitting .325 as a 40-year-old, the rest of his career was a grind towards 4,192. He was essentially Juan Pierre without the speed, for better and for worse.

What does this mean for Jeter? Absolutely nothing, other than as a reminder that the Yankees shortstop is one of the youngest players to reach the milestone. All of these players have such disparate histories and skill sets, it's pretty useless to compare them. The only common thread is that they were all great, and they are all in (or will be in) the Hall of Fame.

Uh, sorry, Rafael. Didn't see you there. Good luck with all that. And, oh. Pete. You just keep holding a good thought.

Though it's likely that the declining production from Jeter is a harbinger of doom, it's not a given. More than a few Hall-of-Famers maintained their production for some of the seasons that followed their entry into the 3,000-hit club. And with Jeter signed through 2013 (with a player option for 2014!), he'll have every opportunity to find out.

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