Ichiro Suzuki closing in on 4,000 career hits

Rich Schultz

Pete Rose and Ty Cobb are the only two players in MLB with 4,000 hits.

New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is closing in on an impressive milestone, as he sits six hits away from 4,000 hits in his professional career.

Suzuki enters Friday with 3,994 career hits, with 1,278 of those hits coming in a nine-year career in Japan. Pete Rose (4,256) and Ty Cobb (4,191) are the only players in MLB history to reach 4,000 hits.

The outfielder's accomplishment is not completely equivalent to Rose and Cobb, but is still an incredible achievement. Some have argued that if Ichiro's statistics in the Nappan Professional Baseball are considered, then minor-league statistics should be included as well. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com points out that only three players would reach the 4,000 hits milestone with the inclusion minor-league stats; Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Jigger Statz (Statz had 3356 minor-league hits).

Former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. talked about his upcoming accomplisment, telling Hoch:

"This is something, you don't have to be from Japan, you don't have to be a U.S. player, you don't have to be a Canadian player, a Dominican player. You can just look and see how much time and effort and the things he's done to perfect his craft. This is something that three people will have done, to have 4,000 hits. Those are Bugs Bunny numbers."

Current teammate Derek Jeter echoed Griffey's sentiment, stating:

"That's a lot of hits, man. It's pretty impressive. I don't care if it's 4,000 in Little League. It shows how consistent he's been throughout his career. It makes you look at how many hits he's got here [in the Majors] in a short amount of time. That's difficult to do, so Ichi has been as consistent as anyone."

Suzuki has already had a historic major-league career. The left-handed hitter set the Major League record for hits in a season with 262 hits in 2004, and started his career with 10 straight 200-hit campaigns for the Seattle Mariners. Suzuki is a career .320 hitter, and won the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in his debut season.

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