Ichiro Suzuki lined a double off San Diego Padres pitcher Fernando Rodney for his 4,257th hit of his baseball career from Japan and Major League Baseball which combined passed Pete Rose for all-time hits. In Japan Ichiro had 1,278 hits and 2,979 MLB hits. Many people are crowning Ichiro the “Hit King” which is spurring much debate, is Ichiro the true “Hit King,” or is it Charlie Hustle?
Ichiro right away was his respectable humble self saying, “For me, it’s not about the record, it’s about my teammates and the fans.” He has always been a such a humble and great man. He did not claim himself as “Hit King” or boast about it in any way.
Pete Rose made his opinion known to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale saying,
“It sounds like in Japan they’re trying to make me the Hit Queen. I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro, he’s had a Hall of Fame career, but the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high school hits. I don’t think you’re going to find anybody with credibility say that Japanese baseball is equivalent to Major League Baseball. There are too many guys that fail here, and then become household names there, like Tuffy Rhodes. How can he not do anything here, and hit (a record-tying) 55 home runs (in 2001) over there? It has something to do with the caliber of personnel.”
As much as this pains me to say it, I agree with Pete Rose. All of Ichiro’s hits in Japan shouldn’t be in consideration when talking about MLB records. It is incredible that Ichiro has hit that much in his career and even more incredible that he is approaching 3,000 MLB hits after coming into the Majors as 27 year-old. Pete Rose, however, should still be considered MLB’s “Hit King” because he hit all 4,256 of them in the MLB. He really does have a strong point that I agree with concerning the type of play here and in Japan. The talent is simply better here and they are completely different leagues. There’s reason tons of Japan players dreams are to play in the MLB. Only MLB stats should be in consideration when talking about MLB records.
Don’t get me wrong, Ichiro deserves to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and should be considered to be one of the greatest hitters the world has ever seen. Not only has he been one of the greatest, but Ichiro is an international icon. Many around the world will recognize the name Ichiro. He plays with all his heart and has made great contributions to the MLB. I am not trying to take anything away from his stellar career, but unfortunately, the one and only Charlie Hustle deserves the title, “Hit King,” not Ichiro.
Let’s all enjoy the major milestones of future Hall of Famer:
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10 thoughts on “Who is the True “Hit King,” Rose or Ichiro?”
They are both great players but only MLB stats should be considered. If you want to combined the Japan stats, then you need to combine Rose’s stats & Rose still has more hits. Jigger Statz has over 4000 hits in professional baseball too amongst others
I take your point about the differences between pro baseball in Japan and the U.S. And it would be easier to swallow were Rose not such a slimy character. Still, to turn your point on its head for the sake of discussion, does not the fact that Ichiro so thoroughly dominated MLB hitting for so long mean that maybe baseball in Japan is better than we give it credit for being? If he’d come here and struggled, you could say conclusively that Japan has an inferior product. But he didn’t. He came here and immediately began a Hall of Fame career. So maybe he does deserve to have all his hits added together. He’s a lot more likeable and a lot easier to respect than the odious Mr. Rose.
I can’t stand Pete Rose, but it’s hard to combine from different leagues. Yes, Ichiro started playing like a HOFer right away, but big league burnouts go to Japan and become stars, so there is a difference in competition. People who struggle here, but then rake in Japan show the product of ball. Ichiro is just a freak of nature when it comes to hitting and he’s one of the best, but not the king.
If you start a World hit leader record Ichiro deserves top honors. But when talking MLB hit record then Pete Rose has the honor, he worked hard for that title.
I agree that he doesn’t break the *official* record, but think he now takes the *spiritual* one – esp given Rose’s issues. At least for me. Feels right. You KNOW he would have raked during those early prime years in MLB. And he’s nowhere near done. Hitting .350 at age 42. Wow. More stats on Ichiro in particular:
In his first 10 MLB seasons he led the league in hits SEVEN TIMES and never had less than 206 hits. In his first season – at age 27 – he had 242 hits on way to MVP AND RoY awards. I have no doubt that if he was born here and started his career in MLB he would have broken the “official” record. While the leagues are different, I just don’t believe this exceptional individual player would have been impacted – and I think the numbers bear that out.
I agree completely. I wish Ichiro would have played his whole career here since I loathe Rose so much. Ichiro is one of my all-time favorites and continues to be UNREAL!
I think it’s important to delineate between being MLB’s hit king and being Professional Baseball’s hit king. NO ONE is claiming that Ichiro somehow now holds the MLB record for hits in a career, that’s just ludicrous. People as just acknowledging that no one in professional baseball, at it’s highest levels, has accumulated as many hits as Ichiro. So when people say, Ichiro is the hit king of baseball, they aren’t saying he’s the hit king of MLB, of any league. They are saying he’s the hit king of the sport. The term Professional Baseball doesn’t mean “MLB Only”. America doesn’t own the market on Professional Baseball.
Secondly, there’s the fallacy that the competition in Japan is so far below MLB standards that essentially every MLB pitcher is better than the best Japanese pitcher. If this were true, Ichiro would average fewer hits per game against MLB pitching then against NPB pitching. However, this is simply untrue. In his 9 years in the NPB, Ichiro averaged 1.34 hits per game. In his first 9 years in MLB Ichiro averaged 1.42 hits per game. How can that be? If MLB pitching is so vastly superior, there’s no way it would even keep pace with his NPB numbers, let alone surpass them.
If you take Ichiro’s average MLB numbers and project that out over his entire professional career, had he played his whole career he would’ve broken Pete’s record by the end of the 2015 season and possibly as early as 2012! Now obviously this doesn’t equate to or mean he’s the MLB Record holder or “Hit King”, I’m not trying to say that. What it does mean and show, is just how incredibly great Ichiro is and how unfortunate it is for us, fans of MLB, that we didn’t get to see him those first 9 years. Pete still is, and probably always will be, the “Hit King of MLB” but the sport of baseball as a whole, has a new royalty…KING ICHIRO!
Pete Rose will and always will be the hit king!
There have been success stories as well as failures for Japanese players at the MLB level. There is no way of justifying caliber of play by, just a few of these players. Conversely, Americans have gone to play in Japan. There have been some success stories but, some have come home after a season in Japan, done with the game.
Caliber of play can only be judged by watching an entire season of all teams concerned.
Pete Rose is by statistics, the MLB King. Ichiro the Worldwide King of the professional sport.
Pete Rose is full of himself. Nobody is partial to a braggart but, the stats are there.
Ichiro Suzuki has always been quite humble, and conducts himself as a gentleman, ….And, by the way the stats are also there for all to see.