With two hits Wednesday night, Ichiro Suzuki surpassed Pete Rose with his 4,257th hit in a baseball career spanning two major leagues: Japan’s Pacific League (1,278 hits) and Major League Baseball (2,979).
Not to worry, Reds fans. Rose still holds the major-league mark — and the nearest active player, 40-year-old Alex Rodriguez, is 1,158 hits away.
In a Twitter poll, we asked Herald-Leader Sports followers to choose baseball’s most unbreakable record. Out of 246 respondents, here are the results, in reverse order:
4. Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters: 6 percent
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Sandy Koufax threw four no-hitters, second most all-time — and that’s three behind the Ryan Express. Nolan Ryan has more no-hitters than 12 major-league franchises. His first and last no-hitters were 18 years apart.
To eclipse Ryan’s seven no-hitters, you first have to pitch three no-hitters, and no active pitcher has been able to do that. Max Scherzer threw a pair of no-hitters for the Nationals last season, but he’s already 31 years old. Jake Arrieta of the Cubs has no-hitters in each of the past two seasons, but he’s 30. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey also has two no-hitters, but he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery. Clayton Kershaw, probably the best pitcher on the planet, has just one no-hitter. Seven more? Good luck with that.
3. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak: 21 percent
Two Joe DiMaggio fun facts: 1) DiMaggio also owns the second-longest hitting streak in the minor leagues at 61 games, set eight years before his epic 1941 season. 2) The day after his 56-game hitting streak ended, Joltin’ Joe started a new streak, hitting safely in his next 16 games. Imagine trying to break a 72-game hitting streak.
The only player to approach DiMaggio’s record has been Pete Rose, who hit in 44 straight in 1978. Red Sox teammates Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts had streaks of 29 and 26 games, respectively, this season. The longest current streak is 13 games by Jose Iglesias. No danger to the Yankee Clipper here.
2. Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits: 23 percent
Pete Rose amassed 4,256 hits in 24 major-league seasons. The record he broke on Sept. 11, 1985 — the 4,191 hits by another player of infamy, Ty Cobb — stood for 57 years.
Can someone playing today break Rose’s record? Perhaps. At 33, future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera has 2,406 hits in 13-plus seasons. If he stays healthy — granted, a big if — and averages his typical 193 hits per season, Cabrera could surpass Rose’s total by 2027. If injuries or an early retirement derail Cabrera, an intriguing threat to Rose’s record is a hitter who shares many of his attributes. Like Rose, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is short on natural talent but long on grit. The former Lexington Legend just turned 26 and already has 921 hits. If you extrapolate his current average of 192 hits a season, Altuve would pass Rose in 2033 at age 44. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No.
1. Cal Ripken’s streak of 2,632 consecutive games played: 50 percent
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire are largely credited with saving baseball from its post-strike malaise through their home run-hitting exploits in the late ’90s, but it was Cal Ripken’s pursuit of Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games record that initially brought fans back to the game that abandoned them.
Gehrig’s iconic streak of 2,130 consecutive games stood for 56 years until Ripken surpassed it on Sept. 6, 1995. Ripken added 501 games to a streak that encompassed 17 years, ending on Sept. 19, 1998.
The longest active streak is 202 games by Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who, as it happens, is facing a four-game suspension for charging the mound last week. Breathe easy, Cal.