September 29th, 2010
by FootBasket

Is Ichiro the best hitter of all-time?

By: Chris Ross

Everybody knows that the Japanese make high quality machinery, and one of the best products to come out of Japan is the machine-like Ichiro Suzuki.

Last week, Ichiro became the first player in Major League history to have 200 hits in an astounding 10 straight seasons. Of course, with any phenomenal stat for any athlete there is always talk of where that athlete ranks towards others of his kind. There have been so many great hitters that have come and gone in the Major Leagues, and we have to wonder where Ichiro ranks among them?

There is no doubt in my mind that Ichiro is one of the greatest hitters of all time, but what is questionable is his status of the greatest ever.

How about we compare some statistics.

Ted Williams, the one player that many people have failed to mention in this discussion, could possibly be the greatest. In 19 seasons Ted Williams finished with a career batting average of .344, a staggering .482 on-base percentage and 521 home runs. However, what is even more impressive about those numbers is that he missed 3 seasons in the prime of his career from 1943-1945 because of World War II. Even at the age of 41 Williams still hit a solid .316 in 113 games. Oh yeah, he was also the last player to hit above .400 in a season.

A .366 career batting average, .433 on-base, and never having a season with a batting average under .323. The man who put up these astounding numbers is Ty Cobb. Cobb also had 9 consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits.

Whenever you speak of the best hitters in baseball history Babe Ruth is going to come into the conversation 99% of the time. This is not without good reason. We all know about the 714 home runs that he hit, but we sometimes forget that he also hit for average. Ruth finished his career with a .342 batting average and a single season high at .393. He also had an on-base percentage of over .500 in multiple seasons.

Of course there are a number of other players that I would love to go through, but the above are the ones that I felt are in need of going further in-depth of. Other hitters that I could have gone farther in-depth with include Pete Rose, Tony Gwyn, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, etc. If you feel that I am missing anyone desperately important then please let it be known.

Let’s get back to the man in question.

Ichiro is one of those once in a forever players and not just because he is a great player. It is the quirky way in which he hits the ball and conducts himself as a person on and off the field. Albert Pujols is a great hitter, but he has as technically a sound swing as it gets. On the other hand, I’m not going to be telling my kid to pull away from the ball à la Ichiro

With that being said, the way in which Ichiro conducts himself has nothing to do with how good of a hitter he is. Despite his 10 straight 200 hit seasons, there have been a number of seasons in his career that have not been too impressive. If you include this season, there will be four years in his MLB career in which he has batted under .315, and only once has he had an on-base percentage above .400.

Personally, I don’t believe that on-base percentage is a big part of being a great hitter because it does not actually involve hitting the ball. With that being said, it still is a part of being an all-around hitter and Ichiro flat out does not walk very often.

Moreover, Ichiro has played 7 of his 10 seasons in the Majors over the age of 30, which means we have no idea what he could have done if he had started his career at say 23 years of age rather than 27.

Now, even though Ichiro is my favourite baseball of all-time, I think that there is enough evidence to conclude that he is not the greatest hitter of all-time. Top 5, yes. Best ever, no.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at [email protected] I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Tagged: Baseball, Ichiro Suzuki, MLB Read the full original article…


Posted in National Basketball Association | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Greatest Hitter Ever?”

  1. phil Says:

    The most obvious mistake observers make when assessing hitters is they ignore their role and position in the lineup. leadoff hitters, contrary to what a lot of people think, DO NOT have extraordinary OBP precisely because they hit leadoff. You never want to walk a leadoff hitter so you pitch to them. My guess is, if you stuck Pujols or Bonds in the leadoff position, their OBP would drop 30 points.

  2. Pat Says:

    He is my favorite player because he seems like an ordinary guy up there relative to much bigger stronger men that virtually none of us can relate to because they hit the ball so much harder than seems humanly possible. Having said that, I don’t think that he’s even in the top 10.

    I get a kick out of people who blame his lack of run production and WS titles on Ichiro while he plays on the worst run producing team in years.(not just by Seattle standards). One wonders how much better his stats would be on a much better team as his batting average with runners in scoring position is actually higher than his fantastic lifetime batting average. Given the number of deliberate bases on balls, you can see that opposing managers also recognize that he’s a money hitter. It’s a pity that we’ve only seen him in the playoffs in his first year and at the world baseball classic as it’s great to see great players under intense pressure to produce when it really counts.

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