Categorized | Baseball

4,000 reasons to appreciate Ichiro

If Ichiro Suzuki had started his baseball career in the United States, we might all be talking about another record chase right now. And it would be one of the most renowned in sports.

The New York Yankees outfielder hit a milestone on Wednesday with his 4,000th professional hit, an acnievement only reached by two other players: Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.

Because record-keepers treat Japan as another minor league, there’s no real threat to Rose’s record of 4,256 or even Cobb’s 4,191. But even if Japanese baseball is treated on the level of Triple-A, just five players have 4,000 hits combined between the majors and minors, according to’s Jim Caple. Those are Rose, Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and a little-known Pacific Coast Leaguer named Jigger Statz, who had 737 big-league hits and 3,356 with Los Angeles of the PCL in 18 seasons.

“It’s not a goal that I have,” Ichiro said of catching Rose’s 4,256, to “It’s not a number that I’m looking at. I’m just coming to the ballpark every day, seeing if I’m in the lineup, keeping my schedule so that I’m in the lineup so that I can perform and do what I can to contribute to this team.”

Even if you count his big-league hits (2,722) alone, he just passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time list and is two behind Roberto Alomar. And he’s done it in just 13 seasons, and those 2,722 hits are the most for any player ever in a 13-year span. He’s third on the list of active players in big-league hits, behind two teammates (Derek Jeter with 3,308 and Alex Rodriguez with 2,917). I like Ichiro to get to 3,000 before A-Rod.

Ichiro will be 40 next October, and his contract will be expiring. So he has an outside shot at 3,000 in the big-leagues, but might need a new deal to get there. But regardless, his spot in Cooperstown is certainly secure, and he’ll be the first from Japan to be in the Hall.


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