Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ichiro Nearing 3,000 MLB Hits and All-Time Hits Record

As of this post, Ichiro Suzuki needs only 40 hits for 3,000 in MLB, and even more impressive, only 18 hits to break Pete Rose's record of 4,256 (if you include the 1,278 accumulated in Japan prior to moving to the US in 2001).  I think everybody knows at least on a cursory level how good a hitter Ichiro is, but he may very well be putting together the quietest Hall of Fame resume of any player in modern history.  During his prime he played in relative obscurity in the Pacific Northwest on mostly awful Mariners teams.  During the tail end of the "streroid era" where 50+ homerun seasons were still rather common, 200 hits and 30 steals a season just did not get the same fanfare.  He was then traded to the Yankees and saw his stats start to diminish as part of an aging outfield.  He now plays primarily off the bench for the Marlins.  Talk about obscurity - I doubt many people even knew that he was still playing.  Last year in about 400 ABs he posted the lowest batting average of his career of .229, but even at age 41, few expected him to retire given how close he was to etching his name in the history books.  He signed a 1-year deal to remain in Miami and is experiencing somewhat of a career renaissance this year, despite (or perhaps because of) seeing fewer and fewer at bats to the young and talented outfield of Ozuna, Yelich, and Stanton.  Up until he hit a 1-24 skid recently, he was hitting well over .400 primarily in pinch hitting opportunities.  At his current pace he should get to 3,000 hits by the end of the season, and to 4,256 around the All-Star Break.  Although, he has recently come out and said he intends on playing to age 50, so what's the rush?

With the Brewers being in the National League and Ichiro playing in the AL for most of his career, I have not gotten to see him play as much as I would have liked.  But I did see him in his prime on the Tour in Seattle and his 3-hit game there is still one of my lasting memories 9 years later.  I also saw all 3 games when the Marlins were in town recently.  Ichiro is without a doubt the greatest player I have watched for an entire career, and along with maybe Griffey and Vlad Guerrero, one of the greatest hitters I have ever seen in person, period.  He was gifted in all facets of the game during an era that did not care about speed or defense, and before sabermetrics introduced the world to OBP and BABIP.  I will be watching closely for him to reach this milestone and hope to make the trip back to Cooperstown for his induction someday.

Brewers 23-29, -13.0 (4 @ Phillies, 2 v. Athletics)
Reds 17-35, -19.0 (3 v. Nationals, 3 v. Cardinals
Twins 15-36, -14.0 (4 v. Rays, 3 v. Marlins)

Erik - 10 (+5 worked)

Peter - 14

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