MLB: 3,000 hit club and at-bats

Why is it that the number of at-bats needed to reach 3,000 hits is unknown for certain batters?

In this list: 3,000 Hits Club | Baseball Almanac

There are some batters from the earlier part of the last century, such as Ty Cobb , for who it appears that the number of at -bats that were needed to reach 3,000 hits is unknown. Why is that? It seems we know their other stats very well, so why would this stat be unknown?

I don’t think record keeping was nearly as complete back in the day as it is today. Full numbers of at bats might not be recorded, even if hits were. And there are some pretty major questions about how well we really know their other stats.

This is likely the answer. If the only information we have is a box score, it won’t indicate during which at-bat the hitter earned a particular hit.

If that’s the reason, it’s silly not designate the maximum number of at-bats through that particular game with an asterisk. It’s not unknown if it’s one of four or five figures.

Hell, in some cases we didn’t know how many hits they had. When Pete Rose broke the all time hits record they had the celebration when he got to #4192. In fact, Rose had already broken the actual record; we now know Cobb had 4189 hits, not 4191. Honus Wagner’s career total was also adjusted back in the late 80s and is still reported as 3420, 3430 in others, and 3415 in still others.

Not to mention that, until 1894, a sacrifice counted as an at bat.

Well, sure, and at one point walks were hits. However, if you had the sort of records you had now, you could figure all that out.

We are not, however, in possession of such records. It’s very likely that ANY large number for a player who played prior to 1910 is wrong; I have absolutely no confidence at all that Cy Young really struck out 2803 men or that Jimmy Collins actually had exactly 1999 hits. The people at the time didn’t even know; records were hard to get a hold of and people didn’t really care about lifetime records.

Thanks for this. I had no idea that some famous historical totals are just estimates.