baseball

Ichiro gets 4,000th career hit

28 Comments

Ichiro Suzuki slashed a single the opposite way with his unique swing for the 4,000th hit of a career split between Japan and the major leagues.

The 39-year-old Suzuki hit a liner off Toronto's R.A. Dickey that bounced just beyond diving third baseman Brett Lawrie in the first inning Wednesday night for the milestone hit.

Suzuki broke a tie with Lou Gehrig when he got his 2,722nd major league hit in his 13th season. The speedy outfielder amassed 1,278 hits in nine seasons with Orix of Japan's Pacific League.

Suzuki's Yankees teammates streamed out of the dugout and surrounded him at first base, Curtis Granderson giving him the first hug. A grinning Suzuki then faced the cheering fans and bowed.

When he went to his position in right field for the second inning, Suzuki tipped his cap to the fans who greeted him with a standing ovation.

Ken Griffey Jr., a former teammate with the Seattle Mariners, congratulated Suzuki with a message shown on the video board at Yankee Stadium.

The Mariners also released a statement: "Ichiro's historic milestone is testament to his position as one of the greatest hitters in the game of baseball."

Pete Rose with 4,256 hits and Ty Cobb with 4,191 are the only two players that have reached the number solely in the major leagues.

According to STATS, Suzuki has the most hits through the first 13 seasons of a big league career. Paul Waner is second. He had 2,648 for Pittsburgh from 1926-38.

Even though the approach to the unprecedented milestone didn't generate a lot of buzz in the United States because it doesn't count in the record books, players have great respect for Suzuki's accomplishment.

"That's a lot of hits, man," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said last week. "It's pretty impressive. It shows how consistent he's been throughout his career. It makes you look at how many hits he's got in a short amount of time. That's difficult to do, so Ichi has been as consistent as anyone."

To Suzuki, though, the rarefied number means one thing.

"Not necessarily the 4,000, just the fact that you're getting a hit in the game," he said through an interpreter after getting three hits in the opener of a doubleheader Tuesday to reach 3,999. "If you don't produce you're not going to play in games. Me producing in games is what's good for me."

He has been producing since he was an 18-year-old rookie with the Blue Wave.

A career .353 hitter in Japan, Suzuki became the first Japanese-born non-pitcher to sign with a major league team. He smoothly made the move from Orix to the Mariners in 2001 when he was 27. He was selected as AL Rookie of the Year and MVP in his first season when he batted .350, had 242 hits and stole 56 bases.

The 10-time All-Star seemingly could place the ball wherever he wanted with a slashing swing that makes him look more like an epee-wielding fencer than a professional baseball player.

Suzuki had at least 206 hits in each of his first 10 years in the majors, peaking in 2004 when he set the record for hits in a season with 262, topping George Sisler's mark of 257 established in 1920.

His hit Wednesday night was the 2,209th single of his career.

Despite his age, Suzuki should have a good shot at the revered major league mark of 3,000 hits, one that doesn't come with debates over the merits of the achievement. He is signed for one more year with New York at $6.5 million, and the 10-time Gold Glove winner is still is an outstanding outfielder.

"Nobody will say anything about 3,000," Suzuki said. "There will be no debating about that."

After a down season in 2011 in which he hit a career-low .272 for a Seattle team that lost 95 games, Suzuki was traded to New York in July 2012.

Accused of isolating himself in the young Mariners clubhouse, Suzuki easily fit into the star-studded Yankees room and hit .322 the rest of the season.

He is batting .275 with New York this year.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
Login to comment

An awesome feat.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

some people says its debatable number becuase it was not a sole MLB number but then it is not something to dismiss. The man did something spectacular and deserves all the praise he deserves. Naysayers out there, try hitting the ball.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

congratulations! for him to still be competitive at his age is amazing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He also is the only major leaguer to have 10 consecutive seasons with over 200 hits & was 4th fastest in mlb history to reach 2500 hit. also japan season is over 30 games shorter. point being he would've most likely done ever better if he had come to the states sooner .

3 ( +4 / -1 )

doing same thing since 1992? no variety no excitement, sounds so dull.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Well done, Ichiro.

Now ... if only things were the same here in Japanese baseball. We have seen foreigners nearing batting records ... and suddenly all they see are balls, balls, balls ... that is, walk after walk after walk. The foreign players are expected to do well in Japan ... but when they near a record the "doing well" bit falls by the wayside.

Yes, Ichiro has 4,000 hits in his career. But if Japanese baseball had allowed him and other Japanese players to go to the Major Leagues earlier, they would have more Major League statistics to add on to their totals. Can you imagine what his Major League record would be if he had been allowed to go to the Majors at the age of 19, 20, 21 ...

Back to the way things are played in Japanese baseball. Often the strike zone changes for foreign batters. They know this and readjust accordingly. Take Boomer Wells, for instance. The umpires called strikes even though the ball was far from the strike zone. Boomer readjusted to this by hitting anything in or out of the strike zone ... and he won, I think, two triple crowns.

Such tactics earn Japanese baseball as being Bush League stuff.

When Japanese baseball starts treating its imported players the same as Japanese players when playing the game, then some day the Japanese Leagues might be taken seriously. As it now stands for Ichiro, he has 4,000 well deserved hits ... but only those achieved in the Major Leagues are considered Major League hits by the Major League record books. Thus he is still a long distance from Pete Rose and Ty Cobb in Major League hits.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

edojin

Yes, Ichiro has 4,000 hits in his career. But if Japanese baseball had allowed him and other Japanese players to go to the Major Leagues earlier, they would have more Major League statistics to add on to their totals. Can you imagine what his Major League record would be if he had been allowed to go to the Majors at the age of 19, 20, 21 ...

Not as exciting as we see today since Ichiro had developed his batting skills in Japan and he is enjoying the fruit of his labor he had placed together with the Japanese coaching staff. In other words his batting skills did not come out of the blues and was a only possible with collaboration with others.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Wow! That is amazing. Despite the debate, I'm happy to see his teammates understands and appauses the magnitude of his achievement. Congratulations Ichiro!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not a baseball fan and dont know much at all but arent RBIs more important...meaning they win games?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

An amazing feat in any league. Omedetou, Ichiro-san !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Heh, and to think Orix considered cutting him after the '95 season because he wouldn't listen to the team's batting coach about changing his swing.

RR

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Meguroman - Both are important -- to drive in a run, someone has to be on base to score that run. The best way to get on base is to get a hit. And Ichiro does that about as often as anyone in the game's history ever has.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ichiro IS The Man! Doesn't hurt that he is very good looking and will reap untold wealth from continuous endorsement advertisements. What a success story...and all, as far as I know, without performance "enhancing" drugs...the scourge of sports.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Pete Rose was interviewed by NHK tonight and says 20% of Ichiro's hits were through the infield. Yeah, Ichiro didn't bloop all his hits over the infield; Ichiro out ran the infield players throws to first. Pete Rose says know one will ever duplicate Ichiro.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There's only one plausible explanation for this - Ichiro came from Area 51, ha ha!

Congrats!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Any baseball/cricket bilinguals out there? I'd like to hear what the cricketing equivalent of this would be ... it sounds impressive, but I don't really get it....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

From an individual standpoint,it is something to be proud of.But that's all his career has been.About himself. A slap hitter with speed, who could throw and field great.But as everyone knows there's no I in team but in win and he hasn't from a team perspective.Now reduced to joining a team that could maybe help him get a ring.If he'd wanted to win,he'd have left the Mariners yonks ago and got those same hits ka na? His career was played under little pressure when he was with Seattle.It's a whole different ballgame when the bright lights are on.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Hope to see him in Cooperstown someday

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I've always wondered why OBP stats (On Base Percentage) are generally not regarded as important as batting average. A walk's as good as a hit as they say in the baseball world...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

For dribbler Ichiro playing in the U.S. for 13 years, he only walked slightly over 500 times, and on base percentage is only .362. Hisdribbler hits (81 percent are singles) are inflated for statistics. Compare Rickey Henderson with 2,200 walks and .410 OBP, and 300 home runs. I would take Henderson on prime anyday. Ichiro is overated by far.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

To settle the dispute of overseas stats... I propose we clone Ichiro... then have him start his MLB career at 19... then we'll see how he will truly fare in the MLB onwards... My money is that he will break all records clean... lol... could be done with today's technology no?!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@merguroman: Most RBIs are a result of a batter knocking in someone who managed to reach base before him (mostly by way of a hit) so hits and RBIs go hand in hand. Batting average with runners in scoring position is probably just as important.

@damianOmen70: OBP is also important but a walk being as good as a hit is not always the case. A walk with a runner on second does not score a run but sets up a double play situation. You see plenty of intentional walks but you never see a pitcher give up an intentional single.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

techallAug. 23, 2013 - 06:44AM JST OBP is also important but a walk being as good as a hit is not always the case. A walk with a runner on second does not score a run but sets up a double play situation. You see plenty of intentional walks but you never see a pitcher give up an intentional single.

For a leadoff hitter like Ichiro or Henderson, walk is just as good as single or double since they both can steal second base at a high sucessful rate. However, Ichiro is not a patient hitter and doesn't work the count like Henderson. Ichiro basically doesn't like to walk and inflate his stats by dribbler singles and his OBP really shows how low it is, considering the number of hits. Henderson walked over 4 times as much as Ichiro in MLB and Ichiro's never won the World Series. Ichiro's stats are overated by far.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@sfjp330: Your point is valid but please note that I said "not ALWAYS" A lead off hitter is only guaranteed to come up first in an inning with nobody else on base in the first inning. It's hard to steal second with a runner already on second.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@techall

Doesn't matter if the runner is on second or not, or what inning it is. But if you work deep into pitch count like what Henderson did, most likely their starters will be out by 6th or 7th inning with high pitch count. Then your team has better chance to win facing their middle relivers. Ichiro never did that.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Sfjp, no one is saying Ichiro is better than Rickey Henderson. Henderson is by far the best lead off hitter in the history of baseball. Heck, he stole 100 bases one year. I think everyone here admires Ichiro's hard work and dedication to reach 4000 hits over the span of 20 years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

bicultural Aug. 23, 2013 - 08:39AM JST I think everyone here admires Ichiro's hard work and dedication to reach 4000 hits over the span of 20 years.

No matter how well he did in Japan, Ichiro's Japan stats shouldn't count. It's not MLB by far. Japan baseball League is a minor league ball. To me he has 2,722 hits, and other don't count. Do you want all the players that plays or played in MLB to count the stats that they had in minor league ball and call it "Career Hits"?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

so what? and?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites