There are a lot of headlines around baseball today that go something like this.
“Ichiro Suzuki all-time hits leader”
That statement can be made on the presumption of combining Ichiro’s 2979 hits in the major leagues and adding the 1,278 hits he collected in nine seasons in Japan’s Pacific League.
And as you may expect, that idea doesn’t warm the heart of one Pete Rose.
“I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro,” Rose said. “He’s had a Hall of Fame career. But the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high school hits.”
When it comes down to deciding who is the hits king of baseball, perhaps it’s not best to try to compare Ichiro to Pete Rose. Maybe it’s better to try to compare Rose to Ichiro.
If Ichiro collects another 21 hits and reaches 3,000, he would become only member of the 30-man 3,000-hit club who made his major league debut in his age 27 season.
In fact, no current member of the 3,000-hit club ever made his debut after his age 24 season (Cap Anson and Wade Boggs).
So what if you compared the members of the 3,000-hit club on how many hits they collected after the age-26 season.
Obviously, Ichiro has 2,979 hits using that metric. But he would not be the all-time MLB hit leader by that measure.
That title belongs to … Pete Rose with 3,357. Ichiro would be second. The next on the list is Honus Wagner with 2,766.
Now Rose topped the list because he played into his 45 season. If you also pulled out the hits he collected after his age-42 season (Ichiro is in his age-42 season), Rose still leads with 3,091. And that means Ichiro would need to collect another 112 hits by the rest of the season to catch Rose by that measurement, giving him 156 for the season. He is currently on a pace to finish the with 129.
So, Pete Rose still reigns as the all-time hits leader.
But the accomplishments of Ichiro Suzuki should not be understated.