Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Would Ichiro be the Hit King?
Joe Posnanski has a post on Pete Rose, his 4,256 hits and unbreakable records.
Which leads me to this set of facts:
1. Ichiro Suzuki has 2,488 hits with the Mariners.
2. Suzuki had 1,278 hits in Japan.
That's 3,766 "major league" hits for Suzuki, 490 behind Rose, the self-appointed "Hit King."
OK, Ichiro hasn't exactly rebounded from his .272 season in 2011, hitting .261 so far. Still, 4,256 seems reachable. If he gets another 120 hits this year that would leave him 370 behind Rose, or two-plus seasons in all likelihood. He'd be 41 in that third season. For now, let's assume he finds way to get 500 more major league hits.
Would you then consider him the new Hit King?
It depends, of course, how much you want to discount his Japan totals. But is it fair to do so? Ichiro came over to the U.S. when he was 27 and immediately led the AL in hits, won the batting title and captured the MVP Award. He'd been a star in Japan since he was 20, when he set a then-record with 210 hits. In fact, it's likely Ichiro would have had more hits had he started in the U.S. when he was 20, since Japan played a 130-game season when he was active there.
What do you think?
Before the question is raised, I consider this a far different argument than Sadaharu Oh's 868 home runs. Oh played in a league with shorter fences and, unlike Ichiro, never played in the U.S. We don't know exactly how he would have fared in the U.S. We know what Ichiro did. In my book, if Ichiro lasts long enough to pass Rose, I hope Pete shows up to the record-breaking game and passes the title along.