Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is a hitting machine and he continued his athletic ways by tallying his 200th hit of the year Thursday on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays, marking the 10th consecutive season that he has accomplished the feat and extending his own league record in the process.
Entering the game, Ichiro had 198 base knocks but it didn't take long for him to collected a pair of hits â€” a double in the third and a single in the fifth â€” to put him at 200 hits for the season, according to MLB.com.
Last year, Ichiro set the league record for most consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits with nine, surpassing Wee Willie Keeler. Now, the Japanese-born outfielder has 10 200-plus hit seasons to his credit and also tied Pete Rose's record of most 200-plus hit seasons in a career with 10. Rose had owned the record for nearly 31 years before Ichiro's multi-hit game in Toronto.
What's most remarkable about Ichiro's achievement is the fact that he blew away the competition, that being Rose and Ty Cobb, in terms of the number of seasons needed to achieve the total number of 200-plus hit seasons. Rose, who was 38 and playing in his 17th season, and Cobb was 37 and playing in his 20th season in the majors before either of them set record for most career 200-plus hit seasons in a career years ago.
Ichiro, 36, playing in just his 10th MLB season, has yet to have a season below the 200-hit mark and is not showing any signs of slowing down. One can only imagine whether or not he would have beat Rose's record for most hits in a career had he played his entire time in the U.S.
After playing nine years of professional baseball in Japan, Ichiro registered 1,278 hits before making the move to the U.S. to play for the Mariners, MLB.com reports.
Despite the small crowd at Toronto, the Blue Jays' fans applauded the Japanese ballplayer for about 30 seconds, MLB.com reports. It's nice to see baseball loyalists appreciate the records set by Ichiro, who is also an excellent base runner as well as defensive player.
The undersized American League All-Star oufielder deserves all the praise in the world for his achievements, as he has done some impressive things in a short amount of time and also at a time when the game was under heavy scrutiny during the Steroid Era earlier this decade. However, Ichiro's natural hitting ability and determination to get on base is all he has ever been linked to, and not one report has tied him to the Steroid Era.
Baseball definitely could use more Ichiro Suzukis and less money-grubbers who are more concerned with getting a huge salary than playing the game hard night-in and night-out like him.
*Photo by Mike Cassese/Reuters.