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Could Starlin Castro hit 3,000? There’s math for that

Starlin Castro had 991 hits in his first six seasons, but he won’t reach 3,000 if his pace keeps slipping. | Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In six seasons as a Cubs shortstop and second baseman, Starlin Castro racked up 991 hits. Though his chances at joining the 29 major-leaguers who have totaled 3,000 or more have declined through some up-and-down seasons, he’s still young enough at 26 to have possibilities.

In the early portion of the 2016 season, Castro has picked up where he left off with a hot September, getting the nine hits needed to reach 1,000 in his first five games as a New York Yankee.

How strong are his 3,000-hit possibilities? Using the version of the My Favorite Toy calculation at Baseball-Reference.com, Castro has about a 13 percent chance at the milestone.

The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez became the 29th player to reach 3,000 last year. Ichiro Suzuki could be next. He’s just 65 hits away but has only one plate appearance for the Miami Marlins this season.

There are two White Sox and two Cubs with outside chances. The Bill James Handbook lists Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins at 16 percent and outfielder Melky Cabrera at 11 percent. Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward is at 7 percent and first baseman Anthony Rizzo at 4 percent.

Let’s walk through the calculation, using Castro’s status as of the end of 2015 as an example. Castro started the season needing 2,009 hits to reach 3,000. How long does he have to do it? My Favorite Toy estimates that by subtracting .6 times a player’s age from 24. For Castro, that’s 8.4 seasons.

Next, we calculate an established hit level. Add three times his 145 hits of last season, twice the 154 of the season before and once the 163 of the season before that. That comes to 906. Divide that by six, and Castro’s established hit level is 151 per season.

Multiply the hit level of 151 by 8.4 seasons remaining, and his expected remaining hits are 1,208.

The final part of the formula is projected remaining total minus half the number needed, all divided by the number needed. For Castro, that’s [1,208 – (2009/2)]/2009. That starts with 1,268 – 1,004.5, rounded to 1,208 – 1,005, or 263. Divide 263 by 2,009, and you get .1309. Multiplied by 100 to convert to percent, that’s a 13 percent chance of reaching 3,000.

The two Sox and two Cubs have different obstacles. Rollins (age 37, 2,422 hits through 2015) is nearing career’s end, and the clock is ticking on Cabrera (31, 1,434). Rizzo (26, 576) and Heyward (26, 810) are young, but far from the milestone.

Castro is in a nice spot, the same age as Heyward and Rizzo but already a third of the way toward the goal. The question is whether his successes late in 2015 and early in 2016 signal a return to form or are a statistical blip. He has a shot — about 13 percent worth — but won’t get it done with 145-hit seasons.

Follow me on Twitter @GrochowskiJ.