Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 146: Ichiro Part of the 4,000 Club? I Call Foul!

This past Wednesday, New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki reached a milestone in his career. He became only the third major league player to amass 4,000 hits over his career. He joins an elite yet very small group which includes just Pete Rose and Ty Cobb. After hearing all the fuss regarding his achievement, I called bullshit.

Pete Rose finished his major league career with 4,256 hits. He is #1. There's no chance in hell that anyone will ever match or beat his mark. Sounds like a Hall of Fame career, right? Well, we all know what happened in 1989 when Pete was banned from baseball for gambling on the game as a player and a manager—it's unlikely he will ever see his name in Cooperstown.

Ty Cobb finished his career with 4,189 hits. Not far behind Rose, but comfortably ensconced in second place. Despite being a total asshole, Cobb is in the Hall of Fame and holds somewhere in the vicinity of 90 records in baseball—many still stand today which is amazing since he retired in 1928. Cobb had a lifetime .366 batting average and 12 batting titles—a feat no one has come close to duplicating.

Ichiro, who will always be a Seattle Mariner in my mind, has been in the major leagues for 13 seasons and has managed to produce 2,723 hits. Whoa... wait a minute! That seems to be a lot less than 4,000? Oh so here's the kicker... Ichiro hit his first 1,200+ while in Japan. Ok, great... he has 4,000 hits in his career, but how can we celebrate him when he hasn't even reached the 3,000 hit mark in MLB.

I'm not saying Ichiro isn't a great hitter because he is. For most of his career with the Mariners, he was just plain scary at the plate. He led the AL seven times in total hits. He's definitely pulled together a Hall of Fame career, there's no doubt about it. Even his play in the field is outstanding and he won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves to prove it. And I don't know him personally, but he seems to be a pretty nice guy (even if he is a Yankee now.)

Just please don't keep trying to include him in a group where he doesn't belong. He still has a long way to go to truly reach the 4,000 hit club. Both Rose and Cobb played 24 seasons. I'm not sure Ichiro will last that long.

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