Yesterday, in the 2nd inning of the 2nd game of a double header, Ichiro Suzuki's RBI single was his 200th hit of the year, making him the first person in modern baseball history to have 200 hits for 9 consecutive years. What makes it even more amazing is that he's had at least 200 hits EVERY year that he's played in the majors. To put 200 hits in a season in perspective, here are some facts:
- Since 1901, there have been 470 two hundred hit seasons. That comes out to just over 4 players per year with 200 hits.
- 95 players have more than one season with 200 hits. Almost half of those (42) did it twice. 18 players (including Babe Ruth) did it three times. Only 35 have ever done it more than three times.
- With his 9th 200 hit season, Ichiro is tied for 2nd most ever with Ty Cobb. Only Pete Rose has more 200 hit seasons, with 10.
- Since 2001, the American League has had 32 two hundred hit seasons. 20 of those have been by Ichiro (9), Michael Young (5), Derek Jeter (3), and Miguel Tejada (3). With about 20 games left in 2009 for most teams, Jeter (192) will almost certainly reach 200 for the 7th time in his career. Other possibles in '09 are Robinson Cano (183), Miguel Cabrera (177), and Nick Markakis (174). If any of those three do get there, it'll be the first time in their careers.
- The Orioles have had less 200 hit seasons in their history than Ichiro has had in the past 9 years: Miguel Tejada (2004, 2006), Cal Ripken (1983, 1991), B.J. Surhoff (1999), and Al Bumbry (1980). If you add in the franchises' 200 hit seasons with the Browns they manage to pass him, but the same can't be said for the Angels, Royals, Brewers/Pilots, Rays, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Marlins, Astros/Colt .45s, Mets, Padres, and Nats/Expos.
The more I think about it, the more amazing it is, really. And the craziest part is that Ichiro didn't start playing in the United States until he was 27 years old. He played 7 full seasons and 2 partial seasons (split time in the minors) in Japan. He never had a down year in transitioning, either. His first year in the MLB he led the majors with 242. There's no reason to believe that if he had started in the US earlier that he wouldn't have had the same success. Ichiro has 2005 hits in his major league career and if he'd started in the US instead of Japan it's entirely possible that he'd have about 3500 career hits. That's sick.
So congratulations to Ichiro. I look forward to watching him get his 10th consecutive 200 hit year in 2010 (just not against the Orioles).