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The 3,000 hit club (but not the one you think)

Posted by Andy on May 6, 2010

The "3,000 hit club" is one of the most recognizable phrases among baseball fans. It ranks up there with "a .300 hitter", the "500 home run club" and the "300 win club).

According to the Play Index, there are 27 hitters with 3,000 career hits, the most recent being Craig Biggio. See the full list here. Or, for that matter, here. In case you're curious, I'd say there's about an 80% chance that the next guy to reach 3,000 hits will be Derek Jeter. The only other guys within 300 hits are Ken Griffey, Ivan Rodriguez, and Omar Vizquel. The only thing that would prevent Jeter from getting there first is injury. The only other guys within 500 hits are Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and my favorite dude, Garrett Anderson.

But I'm not here today to talk about hitters. I'm here to talk about the other 3,000 hit club: pitchers who have given up at least 3,000 career hits. In history there have been 124 pitchers to yield at least 3,000 hits in their career. That's a long list so follow that link to view the whole thing. Meanwhile here are some subsets:

Here are the last 11 guys to do it:

Rk Player Year H From To G W L W-L% SV IP ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF Tm
1 Livan Hernandez 2010 3050 1996 2010 418 160 152 .513 0 2771.0 1355 953 1726 4.40 97 318 12021 FLA-TOT-SFG-MON-WSN-ARI
2 Jamie Moyer 2010 4088 1986 2010 672 261 197 .570 0 3938.2 1851 1122 2357 4.23 105 498 16773 CHC-TEX-STL-BAL-TOT-SEA-PHI
3 Andy Pettitte 2010 3096 1995 2010 474 233 135 .633 0 2965.1 1279 934 2177 3.88 116 251 12607 NYY-HOU
4 Randy Johnson 2009 3346 1988 2009 618 303 166 .646 2 4135.1 1513 1497 4875 3.29 136 411 17067 MON-TOT-SEA-ARI-NYY-SFG
5 John Smoltz 2009 3074 1988 2009 723 213 155 .579 154 3473.0 1284 1010 3084 3.33 125 288 14271 ATL-TOT
6 Tom Glavine 2008 4298 1987 2008 682 305 203 .600 0 4413.1 1734 1500 2607 3.54 118 356 18604 ATL-NYM
7 Greg Maddux 2008 4726 1986 2008 744 355 227 .610 0 5008.1 1756 999 3371 3.16 132 353 20421 CHC-ATL-TOT-SDP
8 Mike Mussina 2008 3460 1991 2008 537 270 153 .638 0 3562.2 1458 785 2813 3.68 123 376 14593 BAL-NYY
9 Kenny Rogers 2008 3457 1989 2008 762 219 156 .584 28 3302.2 1568 1175 1968 4.27 108 339 14280 TEX-NYY-OAK-TOT-MIN-DET
10 Roger Clemens 2007 4185 1984 2007 709 354 184 .658 0 4916.2 1707 1580 4672 3.12 143 363 20240 BOS-TOR-NYY-HOU
11 David Wells 2007 3635 1987 2007 660 239 157 .604 13 3439.0 1578 719 2201 4.13 108 407 14413 TOR-DET-TOT-BAL-NYY-CHW-SDP-BOS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2010.

Strictly speaking, those are the 11 guys to most recently pitch who also allowed 3,000 hits. Hernandez, Moyer, and Pettitte are the only ones who have pitched in 2010.

Here are the most career hits allowed:

Rk Player Year H From To G GS CG GF W L W-L% SV IP R BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF Tm
1 Cy Young 1911 7092 1890 1911 906 815 749 84 511 316 .618 17 7356.0 3167 1217 2803 2.63 138 138 29565 CLV-STL-BOS-CLE-TOT
2 Pud Galvin 1892 6405 1875 1892 705 688 646 19 365 310 .541 2 6003.1 3352 745 1807 2.85 108 121 25415 STL-BUF-TOT-PIT-PBB
3 Bobby Mathews 1887 5601 1871 1887 578 568 525 12 297 248 .545 3 4956.0 3497 532 1528 2.86 104 70 21997 KEK-BAL-NYU-CIN-PRO-TOT-BSN-PHA
4 Phil Niekro 1987 5044 1964 1987 864 716 245 83 318 274 .537 29 5404.0 2337 1809 3342 3.35 115 482 22677 MLN-ATL-NYY-CLE-TOT
5 Gaylord Perry 1983 4938 1962 1983 777 690 303 33 314 265 .542 11 5350.0 2128 1379 3534 3.11 117 399 21953 SFG-CLE-TOT-TEX-SDP-ATL-SEA
6 Kid Nichols 1906 4929 1890 1906 621 562 532 56 361 208 .634 17 5067.1 2480 1272 1881 2.96 140 156 21082 BSN-STL-TOT-PHI
7 Walter Johnson 1927 4913 1907 1927 802 666 531 127 417 279 .599 34 5914.1 1902 1363 3509 2.17 147 97 23405 WSH
8 Pete Alexander 1930 4868 1911 1930 696 600 437 80 373 208 .642 32 5190.0 1852 951 2198 2.56 135 164 20893 PHI-CHC-TOT-STL
9 Warren Spahn 1965 4830 1942 1965 750 665 382 67 363 245 .597 29 5243.2 2016 1434 2583 3.09 119 434 21547 BSN-MLN-TOT
10 Tommy John 1989 4783 1963 1989 760 700 162 22 288 231 .555 4 4710.1 2017 1259 2245 3.34 111 302 19692 CLE-CHW-LAD-NYY-TOT-CAL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2010.

Wow, Cy Young and Pud Galvin made the club twice over. Of course, when a guy pitches over 6,000 innings, that's going to happen.

The vast majority of these pitchers were excellent and they reached 3,000 hits through longevity, not because they were bad. But for what it's worth, here are the 10 pitchers with ERA+ values of 100 or worse:

Rk Player Year H From To G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV IP ER BB SO ERA ERA+ Tm
1 Bert Cunningham 1901 3071 1887 1901 342 311 287 4 28 142 167 .460 2 2734.2 1283 1064 718 4.22 91 BRO-BAL-TOT-LOU-CHC
2 Chick Fraser 1909 3462 1896 1909 434 388 342 22 43 175 212 .452 6 3364.0 1373 1338 1098 3.67 92 LOU-TOT-PHI-PHA-BSN-CIN-CHC
3 Red Donahue 1906 3377 1893 1906 367 340 312 25 23 164 175 .484 3 2966.1 1191 689 787 3.61 96 NYG-STL-PHI-SLB-TOT-CLE-DET
4 Livan Hernandez 2010 3050 1996 2010 418 417 48 8 0 160 152 .513 0 2771.0 1355 953 1726 4.40 97 FLA-TOT-SFG-MON-WSN-ARI
5 Joe Niekro 1988 3466 1967 1988 702 500 107 29 93 221 204 .520 16 3584.1 1431 1262 1747 3.59 98 CHC-TOT-DET-ATL-HOU-NYY-MIN
6 Mike Torrez 1984 3043 1967 1984 494 458 117 15 13 185 160 .536 0 3043.2 1340 1371 1404 3.96 98 STL-TOT-MON-BAL-OAK-BOS-NYM
7 Lew Burdette 1967 3186 1950 1967 626 373 158 33 128 203 144 .585 31 3067.1 1246 628 1074 3.66 99 NYY-BSN-MLN-TOT-CAL
8 Jerry Reuss 1990 3734 1969 1990 628 547 127 39 41 220 191 .535 11 3669.2 1483 1127 1907 3.64 100 STL-HOU-PIT-LAD-TOT-CHW
9 Earl Whitehill 1939 3917 1923 1939 541 473 226 16 47 218 185 .541 11 3564.2 1726 1431 1350 4.36 100 DET-WSH-CLE-CHC
10 Al Orth 1909 3564 1895 1909 440 394 324 31 44 204 189 .519 6 3354.2 1256 661 948 3.37 100 PHI-WSH-TOT-NYY
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2010.

These are probably the pitchers with the least impressive careers among this group but they were certainly not bad. They wouldn't have stuck around for so long. Jerry Reuss is a good example. He had a somewhat slow start to his career but then had a 7-year period as one of the top starters in baseball. He finished out with a few good seasons and a few below-average seasons mixed together. His final numbers show an ERA+ of 100 but he had plenty of very good years and at his peak was a bona fide star.

Here are the best members of this group ranked by fewest hits per 9 innings pitched:

Rk Player Year H H/9 From To G SHO W L IP ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF Tm
1 Nolan Ryan 1993 3923 6.56 1966 1993 807 61 324 292 5386.0 1911 2795 5714 3.19 112 321 22575 NYM-CAL-HOU-TEX
2 Randy Johnson 2009 3346 7.28 1988 2009 618 37 303 166 4135.1 1513 1497 4875 3.29 136 411 17067 MON-TOT-SEA-ARI-NYY-SFG
3 Tom Seaver 1986 3971 7.47 1967 1986 656 61 311 205 4783.0 1521 1390 3640 2.86 128 380 19369 NYM-TOT-CIN-CHW
4 Walter Johnson 1927 4913 7.48 1907 1927 802 110 417 279 5914.1 1424 1363 3509 2.17 147 97 23405 WSH
5 Bob Gibson 1975 3279 7.60 1959 1975 528 56 251 174 3884.1 1258 1336 3117 2.91 128 257 16068 STL
6 Jim Palmer 1984 3349 7.63 1965 1984 558 53 268 152 3948.0 1253 1311 2212 2.86 126 303 16114 BAL
7 Roger Clemens 2007 4185 7.66 1984 2007 709 46 354 184 4916.2 1707 1580 4672 3.12 143 363 20240 BOS-TOR-NYY-HOU
8 Bob Feller 1956 3271 7.69 1936 1956 570 44 266 162 3827.0 1384 1764 2581 3.25 122 224 16180 CLE
9 Charlie Hough 1994 3283 7.77 1970 1994 858 13 216 216 3801.1 1582 1665 2362 3.75 107 383 16170 LAD-TOT-TEX-CHW-FLA
10 Tim Keefe 1893 4438 7.91 1880 1893 600 39 342 225 5049.2 1474 1233 2564 2.63 127 75 20941 TRO-NYP-NYG-NYI-TOT-PHI
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2010.

The more I look at Charlie Hough's numbers, the more underrated I think he is. Check out his numbers as compared to the guy right above him, Bob Feller. Almost identical totals for IP, hits, walks, and even strikeouts are close. Hough was hurt by the long ball, which I think is the biggest factor for why he ended up allowing more runs and getting fewer wins.

Who might join this club next? Here are the active pitchers with the most hits allowed (who aren't already in the club):

Rk Player H From To Age G GF W L W-L% SV IP ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF
1 Tim Wakefield 2871 1992 2010 25-43 567 62 189 163 .537 22 2959.0 1431 1130 1996 4.35 108 379 12778
2 Jeff Suppan 2703 1995 2010 20-35 417 9 135 136 .498 0 2426.0 1266 824 1344 4.70 97 323 10620
3 Javier Vazquez 2483 1998 2010 22-34 392 1 143 142 .502 0 2513.0 1184 663 2273 4.24 106 328 10566
4 Kevin Millwood 2360 1997 2010 22-35 389 3 155 124 .556 0 2354.1 1049 725 1840 4.01 109 251 10030
5 Mark Buehrle 2186 2000 2010 21-31 332 6 137 101 .576 0 2098.1 893 480 1204 3.83 121 240 8722
6 Derek Lowe 2180 1997 2010 24-37 573 156 145 119 .549 85 2168.0 929 626 1407 3.86 117 176 9151
7 Roy Halladay 2036 1998 2010 21-33 319 6 153 77 .665 1 2095.2 788 459 1534 3.38 135 174 8618
8 Tim Hudson 1984 1999 2010 23-34 316 0 150 79 .655 0 2091.0 808 644 1414 3.48 127 166 8731
9 Jon Garland 1972 2000 2010 20-30 317 9 120 104 .536 1 1864.1 906 613 983 4.37 105 231 7974
10 Jeff Weaver 1954 1999 2010 22-33 321 13 99 119 .454 2 1799.0 934 499 1189 4.67 94 223 7797
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2010.

Tough to say. If Wakefield were starting, he'd be the best bet. For now, though, he seems to be relegated to mop-up duty. Suppan has also been booted from the rotation. Vazquez is starting for the Yankees although he's getting skipped next time (supposed to be tomorrow in Boston.) Still, I'd probably say Vazquez has the best shot of getting in next.

I wonder if they'll stop the game and save the ball for him?

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2010 at 9:20 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

11 Responses to “The 3,000 hit club (but not the one you think)”

  1. Spartan Bill Says:

    Moyer is also about to join the "500 home run club" also. He has allowed 498 and is closing in on Robin Roberts 505.

    This may be the only individual record in baseball that is tainted by other players PED use.

  2. Keep an eye on Jamie Moyer. He joins the 500 HR allowed club with two more long balls.

  3. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I hereby withdraw my HOF vote for Cy Young.

  4. JT, I'm not sure you have interpreted that stat in the way it was meant. :)

  5. Crap, Robin Roberts' death was just announced.

  6. It's a shame that Vazquez, who showed how good he can be last year, could be lucky to finish as a .500 pitcher. He is good at piling up numbers though. He'll probably be the next to 3000 H and 3000 SO.

  7. [...] You Are Here > Baseball-Reference.com > Blog > Baseball Stats and Analysis B-R Blog & Stat of the Day Numbers, News, and Notes « The 3,000 hit club (but not the one you think) [...]

  8. Spartan Bill Says:

    I just heard about Robin Roberts passing. had I known about it a couple of hours ago, i would not have made the light-hearted post (number 1) above.

    He was the only HOFer to come out of MSU, and was also a starter on their basketball team.

  9. Spartan Bill Says:

    Why is it that the pitchers outnumber the hitters in the 3000 hit club 124 to 27, yet the hitters outnumber the pitchers in the 500 HR club 25 to 1.

    Another way of looking at this is the 3000 H club and the 500 HR club are practically the same size for hitters, yet for pitchers, the disparity is 124 to 1. (likely 124 to 2 soon)

    I understand that you can survive as a pitcher giving up singles more easily than you can giving up HR's, but still these ratios are astounding to me.

  10. I think it's down to 2 points, including the one you named, specifically that guys who give up tons of home runs don't typically last very long and getting to 500 HR is just about impossible. The other point is that for much of baseball history, the top pitchers in the league accumulated more hits than the top batters. Roughly speaking, top batters each year get 200 hits whereas top pitchers each year give up 300 hits. So, all things being equal, getting to a distant total like 3000 is 'easier' for pitchers.

  11. How about the fact that Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling are the only two pitchers to strike out 3,000 batters and give up less than 3,000 hits. Schilling gave up 2,998 hits and Pedro a ridiciulous 2,221.