Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Can Michael Young reach 3,000 hits?
By David Schoenfield
Michael Young just passed 2,000 career hits and a reader asked me in my chat yesterday if Young had a shot at 3,000 hits. Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com also addressed the issue. (And speaking of Young, Rob Neyer had a post about a minor Young-related controversy yesterday.)
Anyway, I'll be honest: I hadn't ever thought of Young as a 3,000-hit candidate, so I thought I'd check it out.
Young is 34 years old and has 2,002 career hits. First off, let's check the ages of the last 12 players to reach 3,000 hits and their hit totals through their age-34 season.
- Derek Jeter: 37 years old; 2,535 hits through age 34.
- Craig Biggio: 41 years old; 1,969 hits through age 34.
- Rafael Palmeiro: 40 years old; 2,158 hits through age 34.
- Rickey Henderson: 42 years old; 2,139 hits through age 34.
- Cal Ripken: 39 years old; 2,371 hits through age 34.
- Wade Boggs: 41 years old; 2,098 hits through age 34.
- Tony Gwynn: 39 years old; 2,204 hits through age 34.
- Paul Molitor: 39 years old; 2,086 hits through age 34.
- Eddie Murray: 39 years old; 2,352 hits through age 34.
- Dave Winfield: 41 years old; 2,083 hits through age 34.
- George Brett: 39 years old; 2,219 hits through age 34.
- Robin Yount: 36 years old; 2,747 hits through age 34.
At his current pace -- Young is hitting a career-best .333 -- he'll finish with about 213 hits this season. I don't think he'll hit .333 the rest of the way, so let's give him about 200 hits on the season. That leaves him at about 2,050 hits through his age-34 season ... or less than 11 of the 12 players, although within spitting distance of three others on the list.
The most interesting comparisons are Molitor and Biggio, similar types of hitters as Young -- right-handed, line-drive, moderate power types of guys. Molitor aged remarkably well, hitting .314 from age 35 to the end of his career at 41 and rapped out 211 hits at 36 and 225 hits at 39. Now, Young doesn't have to be as good as Molitor, who finished with more than 3,300 hits.
Biggio was less impressive, hitting .265 from 35 through 41, but his key was durability, as he averaged 150 games per season over those final seven years.
Young has been amazingly durable over his career, playing 155-plus games every season except 2009, when he missed most of the final month with a hamstring pull. He's sat just two games this year. Add it all up and I give Young about a 10 percent chance of reaching 3,000 hits.
And with that comes the inevitable Hall of Fame discussion. Who knew?
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.