FanDuel - WFBC

August 22, 2013

Ichiro reaches 4,000 hit milestone between Japan (1,278) and MLB (2,722 and counting).: While his production is a shadow of those early Mariners years when he was a 200+ hit machine for more than a decade (just LOOK at that rookie spike of 242 hits, or the record-setting 262 hit season), the 39-year-old Yankee outfielder continues to produce at a decent if unremarkable level.

Questions arise over how long Ichiro will continue to suit up (he's signed with the Yankees through the 2014 season), but even at his reduced performance level, if he can stay an every day player into the 2015 season he'll almost surely eclipse the 3,000 hit mark in MLB.

posted by hincandenza to baseball at 10:08 PM - 17 comments

The 3,000 hit mark is in itself significant, but adding in the 1278 from Japan is almost comparable to adding in the AAA record of any other MLB hitter. True enough, Japan Professional Baseball is on a somewhat higher level than triple-A, but it is still not the major leagues. Suzuki is indeed an exceptional player, and one wonders what his accomplishments might have been had he played his entire career in the USA. I would bet that he would be knocking on the 4,000 hit door. His approach to the game is one that is truly fun to watch.

posted by Howard_T at 03:44 PM on August 23

That does make me wonder who the various category leaders would be if minor leagues or even college stats were counted. Not enough to ask or research it, though -- any easy resources for that sort of thing?

posted by Etrigan at 04:23 PM on August 23

If the Japan league is that much lower, why did his hits stat take that dramatic jump when he switched to the majors? Shouldn't there be a slight drop while he got accustomed to the better players?

posted by opel70 at 04:32 PM on August 23

True enough, Japan Professional Baseball is on a somewhat higher level than triple-A, but it is still not the major leagues.


The perenniel argument. Of course, the Japanese like to believe JPB is major league level. And, in fact, there are more than just a few major-league level players, of which Ichiro is the prime example. (Heck, Ichiro is perhaps one of the three or four best all-round ball players I've ever seen.) However, there are far more startng players in these leagues who would do little more than ride the bench in MLB. Again, for every Ichiro, among the Japanese who tried to make the jump, look at how many flops have there been: Matsuzaka, Igawa, Fukudome, Kawakami; a little earlier, Irabu. (And these are just names off the top of my head.) At the same time there are more than a few players who were either marginal in the majors or who had little more than cup-of-coffee experience at that level who were very successful here: Boomer Wells, the Lee brothers, Charlie Manual, Ken Macha, Tyrone Woods, Matt Murton, Tony Blanco.


In sum, JPB is definitely high quality, but not major league, and the biggest reason is the restrictions on the number of foreign players a team can have on the roster or field at any given time. Can you imagine what that would do the the quality of play, considering the fact that nearly 30% of the MLB players are foreign-born? The teams would be forced to elevate native-born players from the minors who otherwise not earn serious consideration.


If the Japan league is that much lower, why did his hits stat take that dramatic jump when he switched to the majors?


In fact, his statistics did not really jump: his career BA is higher in JPB than it is in MLB. Rather, the 20+ extra games per year in MLB gave him 80-100 more at-bats each season, which in turn increased his total hit production.

When all is said and done, Ichiro is still one hell of a player--and his JPB stats should not be counted towards some world record. (The only record from JPB that did at one time deserve acknowledgement was Sachiyo Kinugasa's Ironman record of consecutive games played--which has since been eclipsed by CCal Ripkin.)

posted by billinnagoya at 06:07 PM on August 23

From the Jim Caple article at ESPN: According to various sources, only five players had 4,000 hits in the majors and minors combined: Rose, Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Jigger Statz (a little-known player because 3,356 of his hits were in the old Pacific Coast League). Whether you count Japan as a major league or a minor league -- or something in between -- Ichiro is about to join that elite fraternity.

So he's still in pretty select company no matter where you put the Japanese leagues.

posted by LionIndex at 09:26 PM on August 23

So he's still in pretty select company no matter where you put the Japanese leagues.

Amen to that!

posted by billinnagoya at 09:42 PM on August 23

Jigger Statz?

Someone's having you on, surely.

posted by owlhouse at 11:36 PM on August 23

Someone's having you on, surely.

Apparently not...

posted by MeatSaber at 11:48 PM on August 23

Well, if Ichiro had spent most of his career in the JPB, then yes we'd be suspect trying to guesstimate what kind of MLB player he'd be. But Ichiro jumped in feet first at age 27, winning a batting title, MVP, ROY, and GG in his rookie MLB year. His performance over that next decade tells exactly what he was in his prime.

No, there's no official record that incorporates non-MLB statistics; but it's pretty safe to look at his career and recognize that if he had been drafted to be in the majors, he'd almost certainly be at or around 4,000 hits in the majors. And I think it's worth noting as a significant milestone- even if it's unofficial- because it reminds us of how good a player Ichiro was. As Howard_T mentioned, he was such a breath of fresh air, playing the game his own old school way and succeeding in the majors far beyond anyone's wildest expectations.

posted by hincandenza at 03:48 AM on August 24

I suggest that on SpoFi we now use "Jigger Statz" to describe an awesome set of numbers.

For example: "Wow, Ichiro sure put up some jigger statz last night..."

posted by owlhouse at 09:54 AM on August 24

I suggest that on SpoFi we now use "Jigger Statz" to describe an awesome set of numbers.

For example: "Wow, Ichiro sure put up some jigger statz last night..."

I think that would be a great idea, except that given the proximity of the letter "j" to other...unfortunate...letters on the standard QWERTY keyboard, we're just one small typo away from controversy.

posted by grum@work at 12:05 PM on August 24

It could so easily turn out bad that I'm thisclose to being in favor of it. SportsFilter users who love data-driven sports analysis could call ourselves jiggers.

posted by rcade at 12:16 PM on August 24

So, if someone wanted grum to crunch some numbers for them, and wanted to ask nicely, would they start their comment with, "Jigger, please"?

posted by MeatSaber at 12:36 PM on August 24

I think Jigger Statz could maybe the term for the horribly contorted conditional stat reports from Elias or whoever, like "Whoshisface is the first player since 1905 to hit two home runs off his brother in a major league night game".

posted by LionIndex at 02:42 PM on August 24

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary on line

JIGGER (n)

: one that jigs or operates a jig

: any of several sails

: a measure used in mixing drinks that usually holds 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 milliliters)

(vi)

: to jerk up and down

(vt)

: to alter or rearrange especially by manipulating {jigger an election district}

All of the above could fit the "Jigger Statz" model quite nicely, perhaps with the exception of the drink measure, but even that can come into use after too many Jigger Statz.

posted by Howard_T at 03:05 PM on August 24

Jigger what?

posted by yerfatma at 03:54 PM on August 24

LionIndex's definition is best, per the transitive verb definition -- "We really had to jigger those statz to say that he's the first right-handed shortstop to hit for the cycle three times before his 25th birthday in the American League since 1917."

Plus iOS autocorrects "jigger statz" to "higher state," which clearly points out how someone comes up with them.

posted by Etrigan at 05:26 PM on August 24

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