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Ichiro is 4 MLB hits away from 3,000

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes Ichiro’s chase for 3,000, as well as Mike Piazza’s and Ken Griffey’s Hall of Fame inductions.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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Ichiro Suzuki is in the unique position of having more hits than anyone else in baseball history while also sitting just four hits away from becoming the 30th player in MLB history with 3,000 career knocks. Ichiro has 4,274 when you combine his 1,278 hits from Nippon Professional Baseball, and has 2,996 during his 16-year MLB career thanks to a pair of hits on Thursday against the Phillies. The 42-year-old is having his best season since 2009, when he was just 35 years old, so those last four hits could come in a hurry — Ichiro already has two four-hit games this year, as well as three three-hit games and 13 with two. Games like those are why he’s hitting .346 on the season. And hey, he might have had three again on Thursday if not for this play.

Roberto Clemente is currently 29th all-time in hits, so if Ichiro gets five more — and there is a lot of season left for that — he’ll pass him and leave Clemente 30th all-time. Depending on how the rest of his season goes, Ichiro could keep climbing the career hits list, too: Al Kaline has 3,007, Wade Boggs 3,010, Rafael Palmeiro is at 3,020, and Lou Brock is 25th all-time, with 3,023. After that, it’s a little more difficult to imagine Ichiro continuing to climb, since Rod Carew is 57 hits ahead of him now, and Ichiro has 61 hits to this point in the year with more than half the season behind him. Finishing his season 25th all-time would be something, though, especially considering he didn’t even get going until he was already 27 years old.

Regardless of the where, or if Ichiro’s career suddenly ended today before he could reach 3,000, he’s a Hall of Famer and a baseball legend. Getting to 3,000 hits is just another cool moment and milestone to stick on top of the pile he’s amassed: after all, 3,000 hits can only be so great when you’ve already got more than anyone else ever managed.