Who will be the next player to join the 3,000-hit club?

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Last night, Alex Rodriguez became the 29th player in MLB history to join the 3,000-hit club. He’s the first player to reach the milestone since former teammate Derek Jeter on July 9, 2011.

After Jeter reached 3,000, I attempted to make a guess about who would be next. I went with Rodriguez, but figured he would get there in 2013. I was only off by two years. His hip surgery and year-long PED suspension obviously pushed back that timeline significantly. Still, better late than never. Rodriguez reaching 3,000 hits almost seemed like a longshot a year ago.

Who will be next to reach 3,000 hits? Removing Rodriguez from the mix, here’s the list of the current active leaders in hits (their ages in parentheses):

Ichiro Suzuki (41) – 2,886
Adrian Beltre (36) – 2,657
Albert Pujols (35) – 2,587
Miguel Tejada (41) – 2,407
Torii Hunter (39) – 2,386
Carlos Beltran (38) – 2,373
Jimmy Rollins (36) – 2,353
Miguel Cabrera (32) – 2,268
Aramis Ramirez (37) – 2,230
David Ortiz (39) – 2,211

Not surprisingly, the great majority of these players are toward the end of their respective careers. Tejada is still technically active, but we can effectively scratch him off as a possibility. Similarly, it’s highly unlikely that Ortiz, Ramirez, Rollins, Beltran, and Hunter will get there.

That leaves Suzuki, Beltre, Pujols, and Cabrera as our best options. Suzuki has played well in a part-time role with the Marlins this season, but he has only had 42 hits. Let’s say he can double that the rest of the way. That would put him at 2,928 hits, just 72 away from the milestone. The Marlins have reportedly had internal discussions about bringing Ichiro back for 2016, which makes sense given that they could market his chase. I think he’ll be the next to reach the milestone if he decides to come back.

Beltre and Pujols are both still young enough where 3,000 is within reach. Beltre is currently sidelined with a thumb injury and his .257/.294/.408 batting line isn’t on par with his usual lofty standards, but he likely has some productive seasons left in him and 343 hits doesn’t feel like a stretch here. However, he appears unlikely to get there until at least 2017. Pujols is 413 hits away and while he’s not putting up the monster numbers we saw during his peak with the Cardinals, he’s still very good. Keep in mind that he’s under contract through 2021. Barring injury, he’ll get there eventually.

Cabrera, is the closest thing we have to a lock on this list. He has averaged 191 hits per season since 2004 and has showed no signs of slowing down since his offseason foot surgery, leading the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS this season. He doesn’t turn 33 until next April and appears poised to blow well past 3,000 if he can remain healthy. Still, he wouldn’t figure to get there anytime before 2018.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.