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Ichiro becomes the 30th player in MLB history with 3,000 hits

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Ichiro and Pete Rose are the only players with 3,000 hits in their first 16 MLB seasons.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki tripled in the seventh inning against Chris Rusin of the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, becoming the 30th player in major league history with 3,000 career hits.

The 42-year-old is having his best season since probably 2009, hitting .317/.387/.380 for the Marlins while filling in all three outfield spots.

Hit No. 3,000 came in Ichiro's fourth at-bat on Sunday, and his fifth at-bat since picking up his 2,999th hit on Saturday night.

The achievement is even more remarkable considering that Ichiro didn't begin his major league career until he was 27.

Six years after Hideo Nomo debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers and opened the floodgates for Japanese stars to come to the United States, Ichiro was really the first impact position player to make the leap.

A .353/.421/.522 hitter in nine seasons with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan, Ichiro was in the prime of his career when he signed with the Seattle Mariners, and hit the ground running in his inaugural year in the majors. The outfielder hit .350/.381/.457 in his first major league season in 2001, winning the batting title, scoring 127 runs and leading the league with 242 hits. In leading the Mariners to an MLB-record 116 wins, Ichiro became the second player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season, joining Fred Lynn of the Boston Red Sox in 1975.

Ichiro was a hit machine in his first decade in the majors, never dipping lower than 206 hits in his first 10 seasons in MLB, totaling 2,244 hits during that span while winning two batting titles and hitting .331/.376/.430 during that span.

He set the single-season record with 262 hits in 2004, eclipsing George Sisler's 84-year-old mark.

Ichiro is the second player to achieve 3,000 hits in his first 16 seasons, per STATS LLC, joining Pete Rose, who had 3,164 hits from 1963-1978.

Ichiro tied Rose for the most 200-hit seasons in MLB history, with 10, and was the only one to do so consecutively. With his 1,278 career hits in Japan, Ichiro's 4,278 career hits as a professional surpass Rose's major league total of 4,256 hits, but with Rose's 427 safeties as a minor leaguer his professional total of 4,683 hits still reigns.

"If you're at the end of your career and you are limping toward that number, the goal is just to get to it. But for me, when you are part of a team, you're out there just playing baseball and you [just happen to] get to that number," Ichiro told Marly Rivera for ESPN The Magazine. "I am not limping to that number. I am playing the game, and I happen to get to that number because that's where I am."

After making 10 straight All-Star teams and winning 10 straight Gold Gloves in his first 10 seasons, Ichiro was mostly an afterthought the last five years, hitting .268/.304/.342 during that span, including a reduced role in 2014-15.

Ichiro played the first 11½ seasons of his career and amassed 2,533 hits with the Mariners, then played 2½ years with the New York Yankees before joining the Marlins in 2015.

But that has made Ichiro's resurgence in 2016 all the more incredible for Miami, including hitting .368/.450/.397 in 24 games in June.

Ichiro's milestone hit comes a little more than a year after the last new member of the 3,000-hit club. Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees homered against the Detroit Tigers for his 3,000th hit on June 19, 2015 in The Bronx.