Today the nation watched Derek Jeter reach 3,000 hits in style, with a home run against David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Soon after Jeter reached the milestone, I began to think of the Mariners' ultimate hitting machine. I began to think to myself, "Could Ichiro do the same, eventually?" My answer? Absolutely.
Currently, Ichiro sits at No. 10 on the list for career hits for active players with 2,345 hits. That puts him 655 hits away from 3,000.
So let's do some math here. Going into the 2011 season, Ichiro has never had fewer than 206 hits in a season. During those 10 seasons, he averaged about 224 hits per season. He needs 655 hits for 3,000. Divide 655 total hits by 224 hits per season, and he is basically three seasons away from 3,000 hits if he keeps having 200-plus hit seasons.
Ichiro would be looking at reaching the milestone during the 2014 season when he would be 40 years old. To most players, they would be happy if they were even still in the league at age 40. Ichiro is different though.
He has been consistently healthy his entire career. The fewest amount of games he ever played in one season in the majors was 2009 when he played 146 games. Every other season he has played in at least 157 games. Durability is Ichiro's middle name, and being able to play until he is 40 is the least of his worries.
Ichiro won't just reach 3,000 hits, he will go far past it. He has remained healthy enough throughout his career to where we could see him play into his early 40s.
Let's say hypothetically he plays until the 2017 season when he is 43. If he kept on hitting like he has been, his hit total would be over 3,500, which could propel him to being in the top-five all-time for career hits, among the likes of Pete Rose and Ty Cobb.
With 655 more hits to reach 3,000, it would seem nearly impossible to most players at Ichiro's age. But in case you haven't noticed, Ichiro isn't like most players.
Ichiro would become the first Mariner in franchise history to reach the milestone. If they can't raise a World Series banner, or even an American League championship banner for that matter, in the next three years, Ichiro becoming the first Mariner to join the exclusive 3,000 hit club would be quite the nice consolation prize.
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