Of the current 29 players with at least 3,000 hits in the history of MLB, the highest average hits per season belongs to Pete Rose at 177. If Ichiro reaches exactly 3,000 in 2016, his average hits per year would be 188. That’s what can happen when real legends take their talent to Little Havana and see things through.
When Giancarlo Stanton broke a bone in his hand on June 26, 2015, fate seemed to have handed Ichiro Suzuki’s quest for 4,257 and 3,000 hits the one thing he needed which was beyond his control. Enough plate appearances [PA] to reach his goals. On that day, Ichiro’s batting average and OBP was .275/.325, right in line with his 2014 totals with the abominable Yankees, .284/.324.
At the beginning of 2015, getting 300 PA’s for Ichiro as the Marlins 4th outfielder was considered optimistic. He ended up the 2015 season with 438. If Ichiro had finished the 2015 year at his .275 average on 06/26, that should have translated into about 120 hits for the year. He only ended up with 91 hits. Ichiro’s disappointing 2015 numbers were .229/.282.
In 2015, Ichiro was his 41 year-old self for only about half the season. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com makes the case that Ichiro wore down in the 2nd half of the season. I’d like to buy into that rationale, but how to explain his performance in August?
In 2016, 43 more hits for Ichiro gives him 4,257 professional hits. No one, least of all Ichiro, is suggesting that he would be eclipsing the gambling man. But it is a milestone nonetheless. An additional 22 hits, giving him 65 for the season, puts him at 3,000. The holy hits grail, doubly impressive when the journey started at the age 27.
Want to know what the difference could be between that epic achievement as opposed to coming up just short of the magic 3,000 hits?
At the end of 2016, his 25th professional season, the last 16 in MLB, one measly hit per month.