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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Look for Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera to be next 3,000-hit men

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, here getting an RBI single

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, here getting an RBI single in Cleveland on July 7, 2017, is considered a near-lock to reach 3,000 hits. Photo Credit: AP / Tony Dejak

When Adrian Beltre of the Rangers ripped a 3-and-0 pitch from Baltimore’s Wade Miley for a double down the leftfield line last Sunday, he became the 31st member of the 3,000-hit club. The celebration began in Arlington, Texas.

Beltre’s teammates came out of the dugout to congratulate him as he stood on second base. Fireworks were set off over the Rangers’ ballpark.

Beltre’s three children ran toward him, but instead of stopping at their dad, they ran all the way to the right-centerfield wall. The children unveiled a banner to honor the 3,000th hit. Then they ran back to hug their dad.

“What happened today after the hit has been the best moment in my life,” Beltre said, according to MLB.com. “I didn’t know how to feel, because I had no idea what was going on. I feel proud of them. I saw the joy in their faces, and a lot of things you do in your career, you do for your kids and your family. My kids and my wife have been so supportive over the years. This moment was for them. When I saw that, I felt like I was on a cloud, because I really saw the joy in their faces. It was a nice moment to enjoy with them — my family, my wife.”

It’s the third consecutive season a player has reached the magic 3,000. Alex Rodriguez did it for the Yankees in 2015 and Ichiro Suzuki of the Marlins got hit No. 3,000 last season.

So who’s next? Two players seem like locks: Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera.

After that, it might be a while.

Pujols has 2,918 hits (all stats through Friday). Assuming he stays healthy, the Angels’ DH should reach the milestone next season.

Carlos Beltran is next on the active hits list with 2,701, but the former Yankee and Met is 40 and might retire after this season.

Cabrera, 34, has 2,608 hits. His 162-game average for the first 15 years of his career was 193 hits. So those next 392 should come by 2019 or so.

Stats guru Bill James has a system called “The Favorite Toy” that estimates a player’s chance to reach a milestone. Pujols and Cabrera are listed as 100 percent to get 3,000, which is silly because either could suffer a career-ending injury before that. Let’s say 95 percent for Pujols and 90 for Cabrera.

Robinson Cano is sixth on the active hits list. At age 34, he has 2,319 hits. James’ system estimates the former Yankees second baseman has a 48.1-percent chance.

The rest of the top 10 is filled with players who would seem to have little chance to reach 3,000. But they all have more than 2,000 hits, which is a pretty big deal in itself, even if no one sets off fireworks when it happens.

Matt Holliday of the Yankees and Jose Reyes of the Mets each picked up his 2,000th hit this season. Holliday, 37, has 2,067. Reyes, 34, has 2,052.

Victor Martinez of the Tigers has 2,022. He is 38.

Nick Markakis of the Braves picked up his 2,000th hit Thursday with a single to leftfield at Atlanta’s new ballpark. Markakis, who spent most of his career with the Orioles, still lives in Baltimore. His wife and three sons surprised Markakis by coming to Atlanta to attend the games leading up to No. 2,000. Markakis’ sons held up a homemade sign in the stands to count down to the milestone hit.

“I didn’t know they were doing it, so when I looked up, there it was. Pretty cool,” Markakis told MLB.com. “That’s ultimately why I’m here. I’m here for them. I’m just happy to do it and for them to be here to watch it.”

The most likely other players to get to 3,000 someday are those way down on the active hits list — young veterans such as Jose Altuve, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.

Scanning the list for active players with more than 1,000 hits who are 27 years old provides some candidates. For example: Starlin Castro of the Yankees has 1,244 hits. Altuve has 1,197. Eric Hosmer has 1,071. Freddie Freeman has 1,024.

Trout is 25 and has 997. According to the Baseball Reference website’s “Similarity Scores” system, the top five most similar batters to Trout at his age are Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr., Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Mel Ott.

All Hall of Famers, but only Aaron reached 3,000 hits.

Harper is 24 and has 774. His top 10 most similar batters don’t include any members of the 3,000-hit club.

It’s not easy. That’s why it’s so special.

Active hits leaders

3,061Ichiro Suzuki

3,003Adrian Beltre, Rangers

2,918Albert Pujols, Angels

2,701Carlos Beltran, Astros

2,608Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

2,319Robinson Cano, Mariners

2,067Matt Holliday, Yanks

2,052Jose Reyes, Mets

2,022Victor Martinez, Tigers

2,002Nick Markakis, Braves

1,996Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

1,971Brandon Phillips, Braves

1,917Joe Mauer, Twins

1,831Chase Utley, Dodgers

1,786Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

1,784Ian Kinsler, Tigers

1,777David Wright, Mets

1,761*-Jhonny Peralta

1,748Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox

1,730Melky Cabrera, Royals

Through Friday’s games

*-Released by Red Sox July 13, 2017

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