Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has now joined the 3,000-hit club and he might be the most impressive member of said club, given that he didn’t arrive in the majors from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball until his age-27 season.

How impressive is this feat? Let’s take a look.

Again, Ichiro came over from NPB for his age-27 season. When sorting for the most hits by players from their age-27 season on, Ichiro checks in at second behind a familiar name.

The only player with more hits from his age-27 season on than Ichiro is Pete Rose.
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Most hits from age-27 season on

1. Pete Rose, 3357
2. Ichiro Suzuki, 3000
3. Sam Rice, 2925
4. Honus Wagner, 2766
5. Stan Musial, 2635

Decent company, no? He had to pack a ton of hits into his years here and he’s still gotten to 3,000, which puts him in the discussion for being the best ever at racking up hits. It only took him parts of 16 seasons to get to the 3,000-hit club thanks to staying healthy, batting toward the top of the order, no walking much and just being an excellent batsmith.

Ichiro Suzuki is one of the best bat handlers of all-time.
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On a hits-per-season basis, here’s how the 3,000-hit club stacks up.

Average hits per season among those with at least 3,000

Ichiro Suzuki, 187
Pete Rose, 177
Ty Cobb, 175
Derek Jeter, 173
Wade Boggs, 167
Roberto Clemente, 167
Stan Musial, 165
Hank Aaron, 164
Honus Wagner, 163
Rod Carew, 161
Tris Speaker, 160
Lou Brock, 159
Paul Molitor, 158
Paul Waner, 158
Robin Yount, 157
Tony Gwynn, 157
Eddie Murray, 155
Nap Lajoie, 154
Craig Biggio, 153
Cal Ripken, 152
Rafael Palmeiro, 151
George Brett, 150
Carl Yastrzemski, 149
Willie Mays, 149
Alex Rodriguez, 142
Dave Winfield, 141
Al Kaline, 137
Eddie Collins, 133
Rickey Henderson, 122

As noted, he’s been incredibly efficient in getting to 3,000 hits since joining the majors.

Of course, there are partial seasons in there — such as Lou Brock’s four games in 1961 — so let’s set it to an average per every 162 games.

[NOTE: Cap Anson’s numbers are disputed. Some even contend he didn’t record 3,000 hits, so we’ll leave him off]

Average hits per 162 games among those with at least 3,000

Ty Cobb, 223
Nap Lajoie, 211
Tony Gwynn, 208
Derek Jeter, 205
Tris Speaker, 204
Paul Waner, 202
Rod Carew, 202
Roberto Clemente, 202
Paul Molitor, 200
Honus Wagner, 199
Wade Boggs, 199
Ichiro Suzuki, 198
Pete Rose, 194
Stan Musial, 194
George Brett, 190
Eddie Collins, 189
Lou Brock, 188
Hank Aaron, 185
Alex Rodriguez, 181
Robin Yount, 180
Willie Mays, 178
Eddie Murray, 176
Craig Biggio, 175
Rafael Palmeiro, 173
Al Kaline, 172
Cal Ripken, 172
Carl Yastrzemski, 168
Dave Winfield, 168
Rickey Henderson, 162

So he’s down a bit, but still in the top half. He’s gotten less than full-time in the lineup the past several seasons, but obviously that happens to almost everyone as they play out the ends of their careers.

With a .314 career batting average, Ichiro ranks 10th in the 3,000-hit club behind Cobb (.366), Speaker (.345), Gwynn (.338), Waner (.333), Collins (.333), Musial (.331), Boggs (.328), Carew (.328) and Clemente (.317).

How high could Ichiro have gotten had he played his entire career in the majors? We know he got 1,278 in NBP. I think it’s pretty obvious he wouldn’t have been promoted to the majors at age 18, which is when he started playing in NPB. He also didn’t play as many games (135 a season was the max). Let’s say he was just as good from age 24-26 as he was from 27-29, when he recorded 672 hits. That gets him to 3,672 right now. If he were promoted at age 22 and we scaled things back to 350 hits combined in his age 22-23 seasons, he’s still north of 4,000 and only looking up at Rose (4,256) and Cobb (4,189).

Look, we already knew Ichiro was one of the best ever in terms of gathering base hits and that he’ll be headed to Cooperstown five years after he decides to retire. Getting hit number 3,000 doesn’t change that, it only further cements all that. It is a great occasion, however, to remind everyone just how great he has been at getting hits. There’s an argument to be made there that he’s top 10 and maybe even top five or top three.

Take a bow, Ichiro. You’ve more than earned it.

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