Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki joined some rare company on Wednesday when he recorded the 4,000th hit of his professional baseball career with a single in the first inning off R.A. Dickey. Suzuki now has 2,722 hits during his MLB career to go along with the 1,278 hits he tallied while playing in Japan.
Here's the GIF of Ichiro's historic hit:
Pete Rose with 4,256 hits and Ty Cobb with 4,191 are the only players in MLB history to record 4,000 hits. While Suzuki's accomplishment isn't quite the same with nearly one-third of his hits coming in Japan, it's still an impressive feat and a testament to his longevity.
To put 4,000 professional hits into perspective, Ichiro is only the sixth player to record 4,000 hits, even with you include minor league stats, according to Brian Hoch of MLB.com. Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Jigger Statz (who had 3,356 minor-league hits) are the only other members of the 4,000 hit club with minor league numbers included.
Suzuki's production has declined in recent years, but the 39-year-old is still a .320 career hitter in MLB. He began his MLB career with 10 straight 200-hit seasons, including in 2004 when he set the single-season record with 262 hits. The streak was snapped in 2011 when he finished with 184 hits before recording 178 last season.
SB Nation's Rob Neyer wrote that Ichiro's 4,000th hit is an impressive accomplishment, but that it does not compare to the feats of Rose and Cobb:
And to what end, really? This is an interesting bit of statistical trivia. Yes, you can round numbers off. Yes, everyone admires Ichiro Suzuki's hitting accomplishments. But it's either dishonest or intellectually sloppy to argue that Ichiro's 1,278 hits in Japan are the same, or even almost the same, as the same number of hits that Cobb and Rose collected while hitting against the best pitchers on the planet.
Later Tuesday, I might see Ichiro rap his 4,000th hit. This would be a thrill. In 2015, I might see Ichiro collect his 4,257th professional hit. This would be an even bigger thrill.
But when it comes to prolific hitting against great pitchers, Ichiro's no Pete Rose. And he's sure as hell no Ty Cobb.