4000 hits is alot of hits no doubt about. 3000 hits is alot hits but 4000 is something unique. Only two men in the history of Major League Baseball have even had 4000. And as of today only two still have 4000 in Major League Baseball history. There are 28 men who have 3000 hits or more in their Major league Baseball careers.
Pete Rose is Baseball’s all time hits leader with 4,256 hits, Ty Cobb is next with 4189 followed by Hank Aaron with 3771 hits. All three men played major league baseball their entire careers. Does Ichiro Suzuki deserve to be put 3rd behind Rose and Cobb and just in front of Hank Aaron?
There is no doubt that Ichiro has proven to be a Hall of fame player since his arrival in Major League Baseball from Japan in 2001. Suzuki has made 10 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves, three Silver Slugger awards, is a two-time batting champion and won the 2001 American Leaue MVP. So his accomplishments are not being questioned here. What is, however is when did it become acceptable to say that Ichiro is being recognized for 4000 hits when he had 1300 of those hits in Japan? When Ichiro reaches 3000 hits in the Major Leagues then celebrate, then recognize his accomplishment in that area. But to say he has 4000 hits is doing a disservice all the way around. If we start saying that 1300 count here, then how about we count how many hits Pete Rose has in the minors along with all the others that have played the game?
Let’s be clear this is not to knock Ichiro, I like him as a player, he is exciting and fun to watch, but Every sport recognizes achievements that is done by it’s sanctioning body MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL and even Boxing does to some extent. In Boxing you can have a great amateur career but that record doesn’t carry over to your pro career.
In the NFL there have been players like Warren Moon who have played in both the NFL and the CFL yet the NFL only recognizes what Moon did over his NFL career. The same with Jim Kelly, Herschel Walker (both played in the USFL). The NBA does not recognize the achievements of the players who played in the ABA before joining the NBA(Julius Erving, Rick Barry, among others).
If we compile records like Ichiro we begin to open up a dangerous slope of compiling all records and every record that was achieved before becomes diminished. While it is nice to say congratulate Ichiro on getting to 2700 MLB hits it is doing a disservice to put him in the 4000 hit club with Rose and Cobb when all 4000 hits did not come at Major Leagues. When he gets to 3000 he will join 28 others who have reached that milestone in their Major league Career.