Can Ichiro Get 3,000 Hits in MLB?
Last night, Ichiro recorded his 3000th hit as a professional, of which 1,723 of those have come since he joined MLB in the 2001 season. That’s impressive, but what are his odds of getting 3,000 as a major leaguer? A lot better than you might think.
Ichiro needs 1,277 hits to get to 3,000 for his major league career. If he hits any higher than .290 and averages 600 AB a season, he’ll get his 3,000th MLB hit sometime in 2015, his age 41 season. Think that’s impossible? Kenny Lofton hit .293 in his age 35-40 seasons. Despite the myth that holds the opposite to be true, fast players age exceedingly well.
Ichiro has never gotten fewer than 647 at-bats in a season, partly because he never walks and he is so fanatical about his stretching routine that he doesn’t get hurt. By setting an average of just 600 at-bats per season over the next seven year, we’re building in an injury decline that very well might not strike a player in this good of physical condition. But, if you think that sounds too high for a guy heading into his mid-30s, we can set the average season ABs to just 500, and he’d still be able to get to 3,000 MLB hits in 2017, his age 43 season.
Is it a stretch to think Ichiro can still be productive in his early 40s? I don’t see any reason to believe so. 43 is probably pushing it, but I’d argue that a 500 AB per season average is a far too conservative projection.
Essentially, Ichiro doesn’t have to do much besides stay healthy and play until he’s 41 or 42 and he’ll get 3,000 major league hits. I’m betting on Ichiro.