This guy quietly has a real shot at 3000 hits –

You probably know that with only one exception, every eligible player with 3,000 hits is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That player is Rafael Palmeiro, who undoubtedly would be in the Hall of Fame already except for a failed drug test. Palmeiro continues to deny ever knowingly taking any performance-enhancing drugs, and it’s certain that his Hall of Fame case will be heard again by various Hall of Fame committees.

For now, he’s the exception to the rule. But this story is not about Palmeiro.

This story is about Nick Markakis.

Because, as they wrote in The Sporting News a couple of days ago, there is a very real chance that Markakis will finish his career with 3,000 hits.

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Wow is Markakis hot at the plate these days. He had three more hits on Thursday, giving him a National League-leading 40 for the season. He’s hitting .336, he’s slugging better than .500 and he’s up to 2,092 hits for his career. Markakis is 34 years old; he won’t turn 35 until November.

Video: [email protected]: Markakis lines an RBI double to open scoring

Before we get into the Markakis story and what this all means, we should probably give you a sense of his chances for reaching 3,000 hits. Bill James puts them at about 28 percent, which is pretty high.

Markakis came into this season with 2,052 hits — only 93 players in baseball history had 2,000 hits through their age-33 season. Of those, 25 made it to 3,000, though that number will go up as Albert Pujols will hit the number sometime in the next few days. Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano are also on this list and have a shot at 3K.

In all, Markakis is ahead of the pace of

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