If Nick Markakis was up for the Hall-of-Fame this year, I don’t think he would end up with 10% of the vote, and rightfully so. His resumé isn’t nearly good enough to qualify, and he hasn’t been a part of a World Series team his entire career. However, as we all know, the Hall-of-Fame is a sucker for milestones, and 3,000 hits is one of those that makes any player who accomplishes the feat a shoo-in for baseball’s exclusive fraternity. Markakis isn’t there yet, but when looking at active players who might be able to reach the historical number, he is one of the few that could potentially surpass it in the coming years.
Albert Pujols is the only active player with 3,000 hits. Miguel Cabrera is knocking on the door, and although he has seen severe regression over the last few years, he still has a ridiculous four years remaining on his contract and will easily surpass 3,000 hits by 2021 – unless injuries begin to pile up. Robinson Cano is next with 2,568 hits. Like Cabrera, he also has an absurd amount of money and years left on his contract that the Mets will have to pony up, so even though he is 36 and has only played in 182 games over the past two seasons combined, he has a fantastic opportunity to cement himself into the Hall-of-Fame. Although, his PED use might prevent that from happening no matter how many stats he racks up.
Then there is Nick Markakis, who is currently fourth among all active players in hits with 2,350. And at 35, he’s actually one of the younger players around him on the list. The next youngest player is Melky Cabrera, who is 34 and only has 1,957 hits. Markakis has to be in the competition for the most underrated bat in the history of baseball. Unlike Miguel Cabrera or Robinson Cano, he doesn’t have a multi-year contract worth over $100 million attached to him. He will be signing one-year contract after one-year contract until he decides to hang it up, but I don’t see any reason why that time should come soon.
Even if the Braves decide to part ways with him after this season, which is more than reasonable considering some of the youth they have waiting in their farm system, Markakis could easily latch onto another team if he wants to continue playing. In 111 games this year, he’s accumulated 113 hits and has almost as many walks as he does strikeouts. The guy is a professional hitter (as Chip Caray would say) and has the type of game that has not fallen off with age. Markakis is also an ironman that is rarely hurt. The only injury he has sustained over his five-year tenure with the Braves came this season when he fractured his wrist after being hit by a pitch.
At his current pace, it would take Markakis a little less than four full seasons to reach the milestone that only 32 players in the history of baseball have accomplished. That would take him to through his age 39 season. It sounds far-fetched, and it probably is, but from what I’ve seen from Markakis, I’m not putting anything past him. He undoubtedly has a couple of more years left in the tank; it’s just a matter of how meaningful 3,000 hits is to him.