Ichiro Suzuki: Returning Yankee Is On His Way To 4000 Pro Hits And Maybe Rose’s 4256 Mark
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By Chuck Booth (Yankees Correspondent/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
3884 hits into his professional career, Suzuki starts his 13th Career in the Major Leagues and his 22nd season overall in 2013, only 116 hits shy of 4000. He is 308 short of passing Ty Cobb (4191) and 372 hits behind Pete Rose (4256) for the ALL-Time Professional Baseball Hits Lead. Suzuki just re-inked a 2 YR/13 Million Dollar Contract with the Bronx Bombers. He has a serious chance to chase down these legendary players in this time frame. The spry Right-Fielder has 2606 hits on this side of the water – including 10 straight 200+ hit seasons to start his career between 2001-2010. The last 2 campaigns have seen him regress to only 184 and 178 hits respectively. These are still decent hit totals, however not really Ichiro-like. His 3 months in New York has given fans optimism that he can still be a very productive top of the lineup hitter.
Suzuki had a 3 Slash-Line of .320/.340/.794 in New York with 73 hits in 67 games. The veteran even had 14 SB. Playing in the Bronx will keep him motivated to play to his fullest potential, as he has never been to a World Series in 12 years. The Yankees were swept by the Detroit Tigers in last years ALCS, although Suzuki went 6-17 (.353) in the series. Amongst those hits, was a 4-6 effort in Game #1. The man just knows how to hit. He has averaged 221 base knocks a year since coming over from Japan. He has a .322 Batting Average for his Career and has nailed down 2 Batting Titles, while he has led the American League in hits on 7 different occasions.
Ichiro is not the only Yankee climbing up the ALL-Time Hits Rankings. Derek Jeter ranks 10th on the ALL-Time hit list with 3304 Hits coming into 2013. The aging Shortstop is also signed through the 2014 year like Suzuki. Jeter will be sure to pass Eddie Collins (3314- 9th), Paul Molitor (3319- 8th) in the 1st month of this upcoming season. He should also pass Carl Yastremski next year (3419 – 7th) and Honus Wagner (3430- 6th). After that, Tris Speaker is in 5th with 3515 Hits and Stan Musial is in 4th with 3630 Hits. Jeter has a real shot to be in 4th Place ALL-Time by the end of 2014. If Jeter plays in 2015, he would have a great shot to pass Hank Aaron for 3rd at 3771 Hits. There is a 420 hit difference between Aaron and Cobb from 2nd to 3rd. Alex Rodriguez is also 2nd amongst Active Hitters to Jeter with 2901 Hits. While he is recovering from his injury for most of this year, Alex has 5 years left on his contract and will likely go over the 3000 hit plateau in early 2014. Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez going for 3000 hits will provide the New York fans with some more huge historical moments during the next few years.
I am hoping that Ichiro will play one more year in 2015, as that would mean his odds would increase to have 3000 hits in Major League Baseball. At 394 hits short, he will be hard pressed to average 197 hits over the next few years. He struggles against Left-Handed Pitchers. The good news is that he is hitting in the vaunted Yankees lineup, thus meaning a lot more chances for At-Bats. I am thinking he is still the clubs best #2 hitter behind Jeter. Ichiro is still an excellent Bunter – and can pull the ball to the right side of the infield with regularity to move runners ahead of him over. Suzuki doesn’t walk as much as he used to – so hitting him in the Lead-Off spot doesn’t make sense. A more likely scenario will see Brett Gardner hit in the 9th slot to provide speed once the order swings around for a 2nd time.
Ichiro is in fantastic condition and could play for as much as 5 more years, however he is so full of pride that he would not want to see his numbers plummet down to the point he wasn’t at least above Average. 2- 3 more years and a retirement at the age of 40 or 41 would be about right. Realistic numbers for 2013, should be around 550-600 AB, with anywhere from 140-180 Hits. I believe Ichiro will hit between the .290-.300 mark, be able to steal around 30 bases and score 80-90 Runs. His Seattle Mariners numbers really took a beating in Safeco Field last year, retaining a .214 Average – which ultimately resulted him still only hitting .283 last year. Ichiro’s 3 Slash-Line at Yankee Stadium is .341/.372/.811 in 180 Career AB there. In 2012, he was .338/.363/.894 – as he even clubbed 5 HRs in 130 AB. Don’t be surprised to see Ichiro hit 15-20 HRs this year for the Yankees with that short porch in right. If you watch the guy in practice, he can hit them over the fence as well as anyone.
I was lucky enough to see Suzuki play in Seattle for the last decade. He won me over as my favorite player. Of course, the excitement was even greater when he was traded to the New York Yankees. The fans have embraced him and will continue to be marveled at his mastery of waving the bat around like a ‘Magic Wand.’ He sprays and volleys baseballs like he was playing Tennis. Speed, skill, grace, bat-speed, Baseball IQ are only a few words to sum up this man. While at the park, I become tired just watching him stretch out to keep himself loose. I would love the guy to have a chance to win the ultimate prize in a “Fall Classic” before he hangs them up in the next few years.
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Chuck Booth- Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames: To learn more about my “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here . You can also follow my Guinness Book of World Record Successful Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 Days- click here. I am happy to be part of such an awesome Magazine-Style Baseball Website and am looking forward to talking to all of the fans of the MLB. You can reach me on Twitter here Follow @mlbreports
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Posted on January 7, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2012 ALCS, @chuckbooth 3024 on twitter, AL Batting Average Champ, albert pujols, alex rodriguez, ALL-Time Hits Leaders, baseball hall of fame, brett gardner, derek jeter, detroit tigers, eddie collins, george sisler, gold glove award winner, hank aaron, honus wagner, ichiro suzuki, joe mauer, NPBL, paul molitor, pete rose, rookie of the year, safeco field, seattle mariners, silver slugger award winner, stan musial, tris speaker, ty cobb, world series, yankee stadium. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.