Alex Rodriguez’s First 2,999 Hits

Alex Rodriguez nearly connected for his 3,000th career hit on Thursday night. Barring some very unfortunate incident, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before he does actually notch it. But rather than wait for it, let’s be proactive and break down his first 2,999 hits. There’s a lot of cool facts about them, and after playing around in the Baseball-Reference Play Index for a few hours, I want to share them with you.

Hits Breakdown By Type and Team

First, let’s do a pie chart of his hit breakdown, both by hit type and team.

Alex-Rodriguez-Pie-Chart-1

I think it’s interesting that he remains among the top 10 in Mariners history in singles, doubles and home runs. As he’s fourth in homers, it’s safe to say he’ll probably be in that top 10 for a long time. But even in doubles and singles it’ll be awhile. He’s ninth in doubles at 194, and the next-closest active player is Kyle Seager in 18th place at 121. After that, it’s Dustin Ackley down in 30th place at 88. Singles is similar — Rodriguez is 10th with 570 singles, and Seager is back in 23rd place with 376 singles. There isn’t another current Mariners player in the team’s top 50.

On the Rangers, he barely cracks the top 50 in singles and doubles, but he is tied for eighth in homers with Ian Kinsler at 156. Josh Hamilton, at 144 homers, is creeping on them, and Adrian Beltre at 123 have a good shot at bumping Kinsler and Rodriguez back to a tie for 10th in the very near future, but after that it’s Mitch Moreland way back at 73 homers. It’ll be interesting to see how long Moreland is higher on that list than Joey Gallo.

The Yankees have a little deeper history than the Mariners and Rangers, so Rodriguez has longer odds here. He ranks just 21st overall in hits, and there’s a bit of a gap between him (at 1,464 hits) and 20th place Frankie Crosetti (1,541). The story is similar for doubles (22nd) and singles (31st), but he is top 10 in homers. His 321 homers in a Yankees uniform rank sixth on the franchise list, 34 more than Bernie Williams in seventh place but 37 behind Yogi Berra in fifth. It would seem Rodriguez is ensconced in sixth place.

To summarize, Rodriguez places within the top 10 in three different teams’ histories all-time in home runs, and he hit at least 150 home runs with all three of them. That’s not just amazing — it’s unprecedented. As I have shared on Twitter before, Rodriguez is the only player in major-league history to hit 150 homers on three different teams.

Hits By Batting Order

Rodriguez has not only produced no matter the team, he’s also produced no matter his spot in the batting order. There are just 17 players who rank in the top 100 all-time for total hits at three different spots in the batting order, and Rodriguez is one of them:

Top 10 In Hits At Three Different Batting Order Spots
Player Spot 1 Hits Rank Spot 2 Hits Rank Spot 3 Hits Rank
Adrian Beltre 4th 948 73 6th 372 95 7th 392 56
Alex Gonzalez 7th 371 56 8th 419 82 9th 328 41
Alex Rodriguez 2nd 676 85 3rd 975 77 4th 1,114 47
Andres Galarraga 4th 981 68 5th 591 64 6th 368 98
Bill Dickey 5th 559 76 6th 368 98 7th 666 6
Bill Mazeroski 6th 591 15 7th 477 26 8th 554 39
Bill Russell 2nd 751 63 7th 338 98 8th 593 29
Bob Boone 7th 527 17 8th 638 24 9th 369 28
Bobby Doerr 5th 795 17 6th 441 49 7th 378 67
Brooks Robinson 5th 695 36 6th 683 7 7th 348 87
Cal Ripken 3rd 1,685 25 5th 532 94 6th 416 65
Gabby Hartnett 6th 407 72 7th 628 7 8th 429 79
Garret Anderson 4th 891 88 5th 589 66 6th 562 19
Larry Bowa 2nd 1,134 25 7th 340 95 8th 508 52
Pie Traynor 4th 919 83 5th 993 3 6th 377 90
Pinky Higgins 5th 849 14 6th 391 82 7th 415 44
Royce Clayton 7th 352 81 8th 429 78 9th 311 46

A few things stick out about this list. The first is that it is populated mostly by players who were all-glove/no-hit players who hung around a long time and as such came to accumulate a lot of hits in the bottom third of the order. Obviously no one wants to put Alex Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez on equal footing as hitters. Rodriguez is the only one to find himself on this list exclusively at the big-boy spots in the order (first through fifth, to my mind, are said “big boy” spots). You could make arguments for Andres Galarraga, Cal Ripken, Garret Anderson and Pie Traynor being in the same group, but Rodriguez is at the head of the class. The other thing that sticks out is that only Rodriguez and Anderson tallied at least 500 hits at each of these three spots.

Infield Hits

Alex Rodriguez was and is a slugger. But he also is pretty fast. Even with his bad hips this year, his 3.6 Speed Score is at least respectable. He currently ranks 90th out of 166 qualified hitters, ahead of players more than a decade younger than him, such as Starlin Castro, Joc Pederson and Bryce Harper. When you look at the list of infield-hits leaders, you could make the argument that Rodriguez has squeezed more out of his speed than most players. He ranks 20th all-time in infield hits. The 19 players ahead of him on that list, all but one of whom are retired, averaged 150 homers for their career. Two of them — Otis Nixon and Juan Pierre — didn’t even crack 20 homers for their career. Rodriguez is sitting on 666.

First Pitch, Yes; 3-0, No

There have been 655 players who have tallied at least 100 hits when swinging at the first pitch. Rodriguez is one of them, he ranks 26th overall, and will probably move up a couple more spots before the year is out. Of those 655 players, only eight have tallied at least 100 first-pitch homers, and Rodriguez is in this group as well, along with Vladimir Guerrero, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, Andruw Jones, Moises Alou and Fred McGriff (Miguel Cabrera, at 94, is close). Simply put, Rodriguez likes swinging at the first pitch, probably because he has been good at it. It is his fourth-most popular count in terms of total plate appearances, but it is his first in total hits. Here’s the pie chart:

Alex-Rodriguez-Pie-Chart-2

One thing you’ll notice is that he never tallied a lot of 3-0 hits. This is sort of misleading. Rodriguez has had 330 PA finish at 3-0, and he is just one of 39 players who have tallied 300 or more such plate appearances. But even among this group, he is toward the bottom in hits — tied for 24th, and a far cry from McGriff, who led this pack with 53 3-0 hits. In fact, his nine 3-0 hits are even fewer than his 15 hits from 1996-97 where count information isn’t even available.

I could go on for awhile parsing out Rodriguez’s hits, but these were the things that grabbed my attention first, and we’ll pause here for now. While there may not be much love for Alex Rodriguez the person, his statistical record is wondrous, and these nuggets only scratch the surface.

We hoped you liked reading Alex Rodriguez’s First 2,999 Hits by Paul Swydan!

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Paul Swydan used to be the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com and The Boston Globe. Now, he owns The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Acton, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan. Follow the store @SilUnicornActon.

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Daniel
Guest
Daniel

What does the N/A stand for on the hits by count? You’ve looked at every combination of balls and strikes there.

Perhaps
Guest
Perhaps

I think they refer to the 1995-96 season Paul mentions in the 2nd to last paragraph. Those are 15 hits where count information wasn’t available.