Is Ichiro the New Hit King?
Breaking records is never simple is it? Yesterday, Ichiro Suzuki collected two hits – #4256 and #4257 – in the Marlins’ 6-3 loss to the Padres. Of course, 1,278 of those hits came from his time in Japan, with the remaining 2,979 coming in MLB. Pete Rose, MLB’s Hit King, finished his career with 4,256 hits in the Majors. So … who’s the record holder? We’ll get to that in a moment, but lets first start with the maybe record breaking hit itself:
You have to love a definitive hit like that, in that instance. A line drive ripped down the right field line is a perfect encapsulation of Ichiro’s career. I say that, of course, because his first hit of the day – #4257 – was a slow dribbler that didn’t make it past the pitcher.
But, is he the new MLB Hit King?
Well, when asked that way, I think the answer is no. Unfortunately, MLB does not recognize combined stats, so Ichiro does not hold the MLB Hit King title. He is, however, approaching Sam Rice (2,985) for 30th place on the Majors’ all-time hits list, and is perilously close to 3,000 in MLB for his career.
But I’ll do him more justice than that.
Ichiro is, in my book, the All Time Hit King. You can leave out the MLB distinction, and still be entirely impressed by his 4,257 hits as a professional baseball player. The fact that he began his MLB career at age 27 and is still approaching 3,000 is all the more impressive (Pete Rose debuted in the Majors at 22 and played until he was 45). Here are some other awesome facts about Ichiro’s career:
- Ten consecutive seasons with 200 or more hits to begin his career.
- 11 seasons (10 consecutive) hitting above .300
- Ten consecutive seasons as an All-Star AND a Gold Glove right fielder
- Three Silver Slugger Awards
- As a rookie in 2001, he was the AL Rookie of the Year AND the AL MVP
- Holds the Major League record for most hits in a season (262)
For his part, Ichiro wants people to think what ever they want. “Obviously, it’s a combined record, Ichiro said. So I always just say, ‘What people think about that record, if they recognize it, I’ll be happy.'” He later added that he understands that it is a weird situation, but never one he strived to be in. He wasn’t working towards this goal, he was just being the best player he can be. By all accounts, Ichiro is among the hardest working, talented individuals to ever play the game. He may not be the MLB Hit King, but he’s done more than enough in his career to be remembered forever.
And hey, he’s hitting .350 right now.