|Ichiro breaks record - and nobody cares|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on September 14, 2009
Mariners right-fielder Ichiro Suzuki has just broken the record for consecutive seasons with 200+ hits with nine. But hardly anybody has noticed. Rob Neyer explains why:
Ichiro's record is getting relatively little attention because of its very nature. Quick! Who's got the record for consecutive seasons with 40 or more homers? Quick! Who's got the record for consecutive seasons with 50 or more stolen bases? Quick! Who's got the record for consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins?
If Ichiro's not gotten as much attention as some think he deserves, it's probably because he simply hasn't been a great hitter. Oh, he's a great singles hitter; certainly the best we've seen, and obviously one of the best ever. But among the 63 players with at least 5,000 plate appearances since he broke into the majors in 2001, Ichiro ranks 37th in OPS, behind (among many others) Paul Konerko, Pat Burrell, and Torii Hunter.
The first part is true most of the time, but how about most consecutive games with a hit? Then again, "longest hitting streak" has three words. ;)
However, I totally agree with Rob on the second part. In some sense, breaking the record is actually a negative signal, that Ichiro is not as good of a player as he could be. He is so obsessed with hitting singles that he sacrifices other part of his game, namely hitting for more power, draining the oposing pitcher by seeing more pitches and taking a walk when a pitcher is wild.