Tourtellotte: Ichiro and the chase for 3,000 hits

From SABR member Shane Tourtellotte at The Hardball Times on April 20, 2016:

Baseball loves its numbers. Humans in general love round numbers. At the intersection of those two fixations stands one of the most revered milestones in the game: the 3,000-hit mark. To reach it is to exhibit long-term excellence at the game and to stake a claim as one of its greatest players.

In the history of major league baseball, 29 players have reached this exalted number. The first did so in 1894, with no one marking the event. The most recent did it last June 19, with a crush of media attention falling first on him, then on the fellow who caught the historic ball and almost didn’t give it back.

This year, the quest for baseball’s most beloved round number is itself approaching a round number. Ichiro Suzuki began the season 65 hits shy of the 3,000 mark. If and when he reaches it, he’ll be the 30th player in major league history to do so.

With that milestone of milestones looming, I thought it was a good time to have a look at the group of players who have gotten to 3,000 hits — not so much as they relate to the rest of baseball history, but how they relate to each other. Who did what best or worst, first or last; what patterns emerge from their presence in this exclusive club.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 22, 2016. Last Updated: April 22, 2016.