Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 9, 2005
BASEBALL: Mr. 4000?

One tends to overlook the possibility due to his late arrival in the United States, but with 924 career hits through age 30, Ichiro Suzuki now needs 2076 more hits for 3000. Difficult? Extremely. But impossible? No way. In fact, five players have gotten more than 2076 hits after age 30 (Pete Rose, Sam Rice, Cap Anson, Honus Wagner, and Paul Molitor), and a sixth (Ty Cobb) got 2053. Five of the six - all but Anson - were in some sense similar hitters to Ichiro, with Rice, Cobb and Molitor all being fairly lean guys who held their speed into their late 30s (Wagner did as well, but Wagner was built like a truck and was the game's most powerful hitter from his mid-20s to mid-30s). Impressively, four of the six managed to churn out the hits without the benefit of the 162-game schedule; Anson was 32 the first time his team played 100 games in a season, and the Cubs averaged 127 games per year from age 31 to the end of Anson's career, reaching a 140 game schedule only once, in 1892.

Now, I wouldn't put the Japanese leagues on a par with the U.S., but it has to be worth something that Ichiro already had 1278 hits when he arrived in the U.S. (he broke in at age 19 in Japan), giving him 2202 hits already as a professional ballplayer. In the majors, only one player had rapped out more than 2085 hits through age 30 - Cobb, with 2361. 1798 hits would get Ichiro to 4000 between the US and Japan, and that's definitely do-able (it's 90 less than Doc Cramer) if he plays through age 40, as it amounts to five years averaging 200 hits a year (Ichiro has averaged 231 hits a year over the past four seasons) and five more averaging 160 hits a year.

In either event, of course, it will take a remarkable performance. But Ichiro has shown he's a remarkable player.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:21 PM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

While I live in the NW I am no Mariner fan (thank goodness). Ichiro is an interesting phenomenom both culturally and as a player. The odd thing about his prowess as a hitter is that other than a phenomenal ability to make contact (and with the oddest form imaginable) he is really not a very great hitter. He benefits from a crazy batting style, being left-handed and being inordinately fast. I would say that as age and the general toll of things catches up with him his productivity will drop markedly. He had between 55-60 infield hits last year which probably led the league by a factor of 3. I don't see him as a Tony Gwynn type that can get fat (not that he will) and still swing it. I would think that a post-34 Ichiro is looking at a lot less hits than the pre-34 Ichiro is.

Posted by: jim at March 10, 2005 3:15 PM

Mr. Crank, Ichiro will do it. Unless he gets traded to a mediocre team, they will have to pitch him in the strike zone.

Posted by: beisbol at March 11, 2005 9:46 PM

The Mariners are a mediocre team. Except when they stink.

Posted by: jim at March 14, 2005 2:52 PM

Jim, you are an idiot. Ichiro is one of the best hitters baseball has ever produced. You assume there is a proper form or a proper way to swing a bat ... the objective is to make contact with the ball and get on base safely.

Posted by: Jim Bob at March 25, 2005 3:53 PM
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