| Last week, Ichiro Suzuki collected the 4,257th hit of his career. That amount surpassed Pete Rose's once-record 4,256 hits. The problem?
Ichiro collected 1,278 hits in Nippon Professional Baseball before traveling to the United States to play Major League Baseball. And, Pete Rose--the former Hit King--doesn't think those hits should count; telling USA Today:
"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."
With all due respect to Mr. Rose, here are three reasons Ichiro is our new Hit King:
#1. Nippon Professional Baseball Is Different, But Tough
Sure, the rules are different from MLB. The Nippon league uses a smaller baseball, strike zone, and playing field. But, MLB players and scouts have described NPB as "AAAA" and noted that the League is less competitive than in the MLB, but more competitive than in AAA minor league baseball.
The competition in MLB will always be the best, so Ichiro shouldn't be penalized for collecting 1,278 hits in what could be considered the 2nd toughest league in the world. Especially when you consider the smaller baseball.
#2. Fewer Plate Appearances
While Pete Rose had a Hall of Fame career and certainly earned his successes, Ichiro was able to accomplish his hit total in about 1,500 fewer plate appearances than Rose. Even if the NPB numbers are altered for inflation, Ichiro's hits-per-at-bats would still be better than Charlie Hustle's.
#3. Ichiro Is And Was More Consistent
At the end of the day, we're debating two brilliant players. But, Ichiro has climbed mountains that even Mr. Rose has not. Ichiro's 262 hits in 2004 are the most ever in a single season; he had 10 straight 200-hit seasons while Rose had 10 across his entire career; and he's closing in on 3,000 MLB hits by hitting .354 at 42 years old for the Marlins.
At JustBats, we enjoy any player that is great with a baseball bat. But, what do you think? Is Ichiro the Hit King or is that title Rose's alone until someone collects 4,257+ hits in Major League Baseball?