Saturday May 05, 2018

3,000 for Albert

Albert Pujols 3,000 hits

32nd to 3,000

I'm an idiot. I'm such an idiot I deserve the Peter Lorre treatment

Thursday night I knew Albert Pujols was sitting on 2,999 hits but I didn't know where the Angels were heading for their next series. I didn't even bother to check. I found out last night around 7:15. They, and he, were in Seattle, at Safeco Field, 1.5 miles from my home—from where I was sitting. It was the bottom of the 1st inning and Albert had ended the top of the 1st with a lineout to short. 

This isn't why I'm an idiot, by the way. It's what I did next. I didn't rush to Safeco Field. Instead I headed to my local watering hole a few blocks away to watch the game on TV.

In baseball history, 31 players have reached 3,000 hits, and Albert, King Albert, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, was about to be the 32nd. A rare event. And there I sat at the bar slowly realizing I'd gone in the wrong direction. True, I'd never seen someone get their 3,000th hit live on TV, either. But live at the game? I doubt I'd ever been in a city where that had happened. And today I had that chance. And I was blowing it. 

That's why I began to root against him. Isn't that awful? I hoped he would go oh-fer so I could go to the next game, today's game, with the chance to see baseball history made. Instead, in the top of the 5th, his third time at bat, Albert made baseball history: He lined a 1-0 pitch to the opposite field for No. 3,000. Most people at the bar weren't paying attention, but I applauded, even as, in my head, Peter Lorre cursed me out.

For a rare baseball event, 3,000 hits has been happening a lot lately. This is the fourth year in a row a player has reached that plateau. How often has that happened? Four years in a row? It's never happened. The previous record was three years in a row, 1999-2001, although four guys did it in that span: Gwynn, Boggs, Ripken, Henderson. 

Put it this way: There was once a 28-year stretch—between Paul Waner in 1942 and Hank Aaron in 1970—when only one guy joined the club: Stan Musial in 1958. The entire decade of the 1980s also saw only one guy enter: Rod Carew, smack dab in the middle, 1985. He's also the midpoint for 3,000 hits. He was 16th to do it and 16 guys have done it since.  

As for the players in the recent stretch? They have a few things in common: their first initials are vowels; together, they‘ve hit for the cycle in reverse order (HR, 3B, 2B, 1B); and there’s the Mariners factor:

2015 Alex Rodriguez HR  Ex
2016 Ichiro Suzuki 3B Ex
2017 Adrian Beltre 2B Ex
2018 Albert Pujols 1B Against

It's almost as if the gods let Albert get No. 3,000 here in Seattle as a way of making up for the fact that the previous three were all ex-Mariners but didn't reach the mark as Mariners. It was a sop thrown to us. And I missed it. I missed the sop. 

ESPN has a good statistical breakdown of Albert's achievements. (He hit nearly .500 against Randy? Wow.) Other side, Jay Jaffe over at fangraphs reminds us most guys crawl rather than romp to 3,000.

Will there be five such players five years in a row? Unlikely. Next on the list is Miguel Cabrera with 2,666. He began the season needing 364 and he hasn't accumulated that many hits two years in a row since 2013-14. He's also on the DL again. 

Next in line? Robinson Cano with 2,409. He's signed with the M's for another 5+ years. So maybe I'll get another shot to see No. 3,000 around in, say, 2021. 

Posted at 10:20 AM on Saturday May 05, 2018 in category Baseball  
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