Ichiro is now just 11 hits away from 4,000 in his professional career — that would be 1,278 hits over nine seasons in Japan, plus 2,722 hits in thirteen seasons as an American major leaguer. So far, only Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, and Julio Franco have reached the 4,000-hit milestone.
Pete Rose finished with 4,256 in his major league career, while Ty Cobb ended up with 4,189. Taking international play into consideration, Julio Franco amassed 4,229 hits in his 26-year professional career, spread between Major League Baseball (2,586 hits), Minor League Baseball (618), the Mexican League (316), Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (286), the Dominican Winter League (267), and the Korean Baseball Organization (156). As far as I know, nobody else has reached 4,000 professional hits, no matter what league(s) they played in.
Ichiro thinks he can pass them all. With typical understatement, he says in this New York Times article, published Thursday: “If I am able to play in enough games, I think I can do it… But it’s not like that’s the goal, just to get there. I don’t feel like that’s the end. When I do get there, obviously, it will feel good. But it’s not going to be this overwhelming feat that is going to change anything.”
The same article makes some projections:
To match Rose’s total, Suzuki will need 2,978 hits in the majors. At that point, he would need just 22 more to become the 29th player to reach 3,000 hits strictly in the United States… This season, Suzuki has 105 hits in 405 plate appearances, batting .278. Suzuki, who is signed through next season, is on pace to finish with 151 hits this year. If he winds up with 140 hits this year and 140 again next year, he will have 4,164 total hits and will be within striking distance of Rose’s mark in 2015.
I have plans to see the Ichiro and the Yankees in Toronto on August 26, 27, and 28. Though I’d love to see him hit number 4,000, he’ll probably get there beforehand.