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Ichiro Suzuki – Baseball’s New Hit King?

Ichiro Photo by Warren Currell via Flickr

MLB

Fernando Rodney gave up the most important hit of his career last tonight.

Why you might ask?

Well it gave Ichiro Suzuki the professional record of hits. He hit a line drive double that dribbled all the way to the wall, giving him the hit record of 4,257, which surpasses Pete Rose’s hit amount of 4,256.

Except, 1,278 of those hits were in Japan’s Pacific League.

From 1992 to 2000, Ichiro hit .353 and averaged 17 home runs per full season. His career highs in Japan were a .385 average, 25 home runs, and 49 steals. He won 7 consecutive batting titles (he only played 7 full seasons) and 3 consecutive MVP awards for the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

From 2000 on, Ichiro played in the United States in Major League Baseball.  He won the AL Rookie of the Year and the AL MVP in his first year in 2001.

He holds 25 records in the American League alone, which includes the most hits in one season (262) and the most consecutive seasons with 200 plus hits (10.)

From 2001 to 2010 he went to 10 straight All-Star Games and won 10 straight Gold Gloves.

Ichiro has given baseball a level of efficiency and greatness that is unrivaled. Moreover, we may never see a more successful hitter over any decade, ever.

The Important Question?

The question asked, however, should his hits in Japan be counted toward his MLB total? This would mean that Ichiro is the all time leader in hits over Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose.

Pete Rose’s grind it out, hustle every play, style of baseball consequently led him to that record. He played for 24 years, was a 17 time All-Star, and won 3 World Series. People forget, but he also played 5 different positions. (1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, left and right field)

Yet, his legacy is barred by the fact he gambled on the own game he played in. And, lied about it multiple times.

The argument “Ichiro should be the hit king over Pete Rose” is quite preposterous. Because the Major League Stats aren’t there.

Matt Murton and Tuffy Rhodes were MVP’s in Japan, and they were merely platoon or reserve players in the Major Leagues. Clearly the level of play in Japan isn’t near the quality of Major League Baseball.

But, that does not mean credit should not be given to Ichiro – his accomplishments over the short span of Major League dominance should not be counted as nothing.

Ichiro may be the best hitter of all time, but he didn’t hit long enough in the MLB to be the greatest Major League hitter of all time.

That record still belongs to Pete Rose, in addition to All Time greats like Hank Aaron and Ty Cobb, who were extremely successful in the Majors with 3,500 plus hits, over many more years than Ichiro Suzuki has ever played in the Majors.

 

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