The Seattle Mariners are easily my favorite sports team. Over the years, Ichiro has become one of my favorite players for his consistency, determination and work ethic. I was at the 2001 All-Star game in Seattle and watched him hit seven or eight straight pitches into the right field stands during batting practice. His ability with a bat is truly awe inspiring.
Over the weekend Ichiro reached the 2,000 hit plateau, becoming the 259th major leaguer to accomplish that feat. Amazingly though, Ichiro achieved this feat in less than nine seasons. He reached his 2,000th hit in his 1,402nd career game, meaning he averages 1.43 hits every time he takes the field. That is an incredible statistic. Comparing him to other baseball greats, all-time hits leader Pete Rose averaged 1.20 for his career, Ty Cobb – 1.38, Babe Ruth – 1.15, Lou Gehrig – 1.26, even the great Ted Williams ‘only’ averaged 1.16 hits/game for his career. All this information is from www.baseball-reference.com, which by the way is a fantastic site if you’re interested in baseball stats.
Given those stats, it was amazing to me to hear that Ichiro was only the 2nd fastest to 2,000 hits in MLB history. Al Simmons reached the 2,000 hit plateau in 1,390 game, 12 fewer than Ichiro. That means Simmons averaged 1.44 hits/game to the point of reaching 2,000 hits. Simmons, a Hall of Famer, slowed down a little bit later in the his career but still finished with an amazing career average of 1.32 hits/game. Sadly, he fell just short of the 3,000 level, retiring with 2,927 career hits, currently putting him 35th on the all-time list.
On top of his 2,000 Major League Baseball hits, Ichiro also has 1,278 hits from his days in Japan before he joined the Mariners in 2001. His career total of 3,278 would put him 12th on the all-time list, 5 hits shy of Willie Mays. The amazing thing about Ichiro is he’s 36 years old and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Granted, he’s missed more games this season (16) than in the previous eight combined, but he’s currently hitting .362, which would be his second highest total ever behind the .372 he hit in 2004.
Ichiro is also on the verge of setting a Major League record by reaching 200 hits in his ninth consecutive season. This would break Wee Willie Keeler’s record established over 100 years ago. Keeler reached 200 hits in all eight seasons between 1894 and 1901. Ichiro’s excellence and consistency are truly a testament to the effort he puts into playing and staying in playing shape everyday.
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