Ichiro recently reached 200 hits for the ninth consecutive season. Not by coincidence, that matches his career length in the major leagues, meaning he’s reached the plateau in every season since making the leap. That’s a lot of hits and one of the reasons for Ichiro’s streak is his ability to generate infield hits. Ponder his totals:
2002 – 41
2004 – 57
2006 – 41
2007 – 44
2008 – 49
2009 – 49
337 infield hits over eight years – or roughly 42 per season. That’s a ton of hits and none of them have left the infield. Since Ichiro is left-handed and his follow through includes “starting towards” first base, you would expect a fair number of those to be of the bunt hit variety. Yet he’s only laid down 50 bunt hits since 2002 and has attempted only 98 bunts – which equates to a pretty ridiculous success rate when he does choose to lay one down.
Not only does Ichiro lead the league in infield hits, but by a pretty considerable amount. He has 21 more than second place Michael Bourn, 22 more than Carl Crawford, 24 more than Jacoby Ellsbury, and 33 more than Hanley Ramirez. With such it’s little surprise that the Mariners lead the league in infield hits. Ichiro obviously makes up a large contribution, but Franklin Gutierrez (14) and Adrian Beltre (13) are into double digits as well.
The Oriles, Dodgers, Nationals, and Yankees round out the top five in league-wide infield hits as a team. Meanwhile the Braves, Cubs, Pirates, Indians, Phillies, and Reds have considerably fewer infield hits.
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