Major League Baseball has a new issue that no one could have foreseen: combined statistics.
We’re one week removed from Ichiro Suzuki getting his 3,000th hit as a member of the Miami Marlins. He currently has a total of 4,281 hits as both a Major Leaguer and from his career in Japan. That puts him at the top of the list combined, passing Pete Rose and Ty Cobb with the most hits.
Ichiro’s accomplishments caused debate, with Rose stating on FOX Sports that he’s not the true hit king of baseball. Rose said this after Ichiro passed Rose for the most career hits with his combined stats.
Unfortunately, the debate gets a little murkier than that.
For example, let’s take a look at Hideki Matsui’s career stats. The outfielder played for the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim, Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays. He logged in 175 home runs during his major-league career.
However, Hideki Matsui was a monster with the Yomirui Giants. He hit 332 home runs with the club. That brings his career total to an impressive 507 dingers. Does that make Matsui a strong candidate for Cooperstown as well?
Let’s go further than the countrymen of Japan in Ichiro and Matsui. There are some baseball players that play past the end of the season. There are leagues in the Caribbean where Major Leaguers can take part on separate teams. Edwin Encarnacion, current designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays, took part in the Dominican Winter League in 2006-08, 2010 and 2011 for the Aguilas Cibaenas.
Neither man has the stats to warrant consideration to the Hall of Fame, yet. But what if they did What if someone playing in that league racked up the hits to contribute to a stellar MLB career?
And let’s not start on the minor leagues. It’s professional baseball, but there are plenty of players who have made a career as legends in the minors.
The bottom line is baseball has moved past the staple of “America’s Pastime”. It’s worthy to be called a global phenomenon.
Baseball went global before the inception of the World Baseball Classic. The inclusion of players from other countries can attest to that.
Should stats from other leagues factor into a player’s career? If yes, understand that everyone gets a boost. The great names that played in the majors get a boost from other pro leagues. In other words, maybe it would just balance out.
That’s not our conundrum to solve. That is up to the baseball purists and those in Cooperstown to make that decision.
Regardless, it would be pretty cool to see those stats mean more than just “numbers from other places”.
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