Ichiro gets 4 hits. Ho hum. Ichiro's hitting .350. Woopty doo. Ichiro's leading the league in hits. What's new?
Maybe it's just me, but are we taking Ichiro for granted? He came to the Majors facing more media scrutiny and pressure than anybody since Jackie Robinson, and wasted no time showing he belonged. He started hitting from day one. Literally. 2 for 5 against Oakland on April 2, 2001. With his four hits last night, he now has 89 for the season. That pace projects to 240 for the year. WHether that happens remains to be seen. But, Ichiro has proven his worth in the majors. THe question I ask is-where does he rank agains the all-time greats?
Since Ichiro's greatest accomplishments have involved hit numbers, I thought it would be interesting to compare him against the all-time greatest "hit machines." I thought it'd be interesting to look at at bats per hit. I thought since we hear a lot about at bats per home run when talking about the great power hitters, this might be an interesting statistic.
So, first things first. Who are the these "hit machines"? Well, here is the "hit" list. Rim shot! I'll compare Ichiro to the top guys in terms of at bats per hit. Ichiro's has 1219 hits in 3655 at bats. That's one hit for every 2.998 at bats.
1. Pete Rose: 4256 hits in 14,053 at bats. At bats per hit = 3.30. Ichiro's better than The Gambler.
2. Ty Cobb: 4191 hits in 11,429 at bats. At bats per hit: 2.72. The Georgia Peach has the edge on our boy.
3. Hank Aaron: 3771 hits in 12,364 at bats. At bats per hit: 3.28. Ichiro wins out again.
Just going down the list, here are the other rates among the top 5:
Stan Musial: 3.02
Tris Speaker: 2.90
Of the top 5, only Speaker and Cobb have a better rate. Musial and Aaron were better all around hitters though. A couple more recent notables:
Rod Carew: 3.05
Tony Gwynn: 2.95
I could go on, but I think the point is clear. Ichiro is right there with those guys. Now, Ichiro has the advantage of the majority of his years in the majors being during his prime age years. A more in-depth analysis may show that his hit rate during his prime years is not as strong.
But, Ichiro is absolutely amazing, and I think we're forgetting that. We've had some great ones come through Seattle over the past 15 years, and he's the next great one. The question I have is-how many more years of this production will make him a first-ballot hall of famer?
Oh by the way-Ichiro just led off the bottom of the first with a HR.