He won’t go into the major league record books, and he shouldn’t, but the guy has been absolutely great. If he’d been playing in the major leagues all along, I’m pretty sure he’d have more hits than all but a handful of players (Rose, Cobb, Aaron and Musial).
I agree that you can’t count the Japan stats in the record books. However, Ichiro would probably have more hits if he had been in MLB all along. We would have most likely already celebrated him breaking Rose’s hit record by now. If you look at his stats his first few seasons in MLB, there really is no drop off from Japan. But they play fewer games in Japan so he didn’t get as many hits for every season in Japan vs. MLB.
He’s a unique and incredible player, but no, this doesn’t mean much of anything. It’s just something that can be treated as a big round number and you know how everybody loves those. I think if you’re going to treat 4,000 MLB plus Japan League hits as a thing you have to agree that Sadaharu Oh is the real home run king, Isao Harimoto is part of the 3,000-hit club, and Tuffy Rhodes is in the 50-homer club.
I think it’s an interesting question. We certainly do already include stats from some inferior leagues in calculating career marks, like the Union Association. While I’m not ready to argue that we should also count NPB numbers, it’s very high-level baseball - something like 95% as good as the majors.
If you’re going to count Japanese hits, you might as well count World Series and other postseason hits, or All-Star Game hits, or even minor league hits (after all, it’s also professional baseball).
The “record books” are for statistics in regular season Major League Baseball games only. If you want to count “total top-level domestic league” numbers, then go ahead - after all, Reggie Jackson hitting five home runs in the same World Series is also a record - but it’s just not comparable to the “traditional” records.
Cue somebody saying, “Isn’t that what somebody said about comparing 162-game-season records to 154-game-season records at one time?” in three, two, one…
I haven’t heard anybody say he should get credit for 4,000 hits in the MLB record books or anything like that. I just see people marking his 4,000th professional hit. It’s nice and everything, it’s just that that wasn’t something people paid attention to until this week.
No way. Ichiro is an exceptional player by any standard, but the MLB record books only include recognized major leagues. Until and unless the Japanese league is so recognized, Ichiro has exactly the number of hits in the record books as he’s hit for the Mariners and Yankees, and that’s it.
That said, it would be perfectly appropriate for his eventual Hall of Fame plaque to make mention of his having achieved 4000+ between MLB and Japan.
I also wouldn’t be against the Hall of Fame considering inducting exceptional Japanese players as they did Negro Leaguers. The Hall of Fame is not an arm of MLB. It’s a baseball museum, and Japanese baseball is baseball. If a committee were to decide that some Japanese players (e.g., Sadaharu Oh) would have been on the level of MLB Hall-of-Famers had they been allowed/able to play in the American major leagues, I could respect that.
I’ve always admired Ichiro as a terrific all-around ballplayer, he should be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, and there’s no way he should be regarded as being in the record books “next to Rose and Cobb”.
Bizarrely, I agree pretty much 100% with what Pete Rose had to say on the subject.*
*although Rose should think harder about keeping his mouth shut, especially about the PED scandal, which he apparently thinks makes his behavior look better in retrospect.
**I enjoyed seeing this T-shirt for sale outside the Reds ballpark yesterday.
***almost every time I go to a major league game I see something I’ve never seen before. In this case, it was a pitcher throwing three wild pitches in an inning, his opposition throwing up between innings (thankfully I didn’t actually have to see that) while pitching a great game, and a woodwind quintet performing the national anthem. All in all, it was the most memorable Reds game for me since the time Schottzie II took a dump behind home plate.
4000 is a round number. Hence, everybody is losing their minds (I saw Buster Olney tweet that Ichiro is a sure-thing first ballot Hall of Famer … umm, the Baseball Writers have a thing for not making ANYBODY a first-ballot HOFer, so I’m not so sure about that, Buster).
Ichiro, to me, is a clear Hall of Famer. His performance in the major leagues has been stellar. But … I think people need to stop harping about these “4000 hits.” As mentioned above, major leaguers don’t get their postseason stats added in to their career totals, or their minor league stats, or their winter league/Carribbean stats. What’s so special about Japanese baseball that some people think they have to count those for Ichiro?
Did anybody make a fuss when Hank Aaron got his 4000th professional hit (add in his minor league stats, he had 4095 career hits)? Do people say Satchel Paige won over 159 major league career games on the mound (only 28 in the major leagues, mind you, but 100 Negro League victories and another 31 in the minors)? No, nobody says anything of the sort. I just can’t figure out why they think it’s any different with Ichiro.
You and Pete Rose both. As with Jackmanii, I think Rose actually pretty much summed it up here. For the purposes of the MLB record books, Ichiro has the hits he’s scored in the MLB, no more, no fewer. That doesn’t take away from his merits as a player or the import of his achievement.