Chasing 200 Hits in 2009

With the completion of the 2009 season (well, there is Game #163, Twins-Tigers; more on that in a moment), only four players made it to the 200 hit plateau, one more than last year.


They are Ichiro Suzuki (225) of the Seattle Mariners, Derek Jeter (212) and Robinson Cano (204) of the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun (203) of the Milwaukee Brewers.


As you probably already know, this was Ichiro’s ninth consecutive season of 200+ hits, setting a record for most consecutive 200-hit seasons (breaking Wee Willie Keeler’s mark of eight consecutive seasons). Only Pete Rose has had more 200+ hit seasons; he had 10, a mark that Ichiro will try to tie next season.


Ichiro’s achievement is notable, especially because he started the season on the disabled list – the first time in his MLB career that he’s missed playing time due to an injury. He also missed some playing time in August because of an injury, sitting out a total of 16 games during the season.


All those hits didn’t necessarily translate into runs. According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, Ichiro’s 88 runs scored are the fewest by a player with at least 220 hits in a season.


For Jeter, this was his seventh season of 200+ hits.


For both Cano and Braun, this was their first season of 200+ hits.


It’s not the first time teammates have combined for 200+ hits. In fact, in the 2000’s alone, it’s been done five times, including this year’s Jeter-Cano tandem.


The last time was in 2007 when Magglio Ordonez (216) and Placido Polanco (200) did so. Before that, Alfonso Soriano (209) and Bernie Williams (204) of the Yankees teamed up for 200+ hits in 2002. In 2001, Ichiro (242) and Brett Boone (206) combined for the feat. In 2000, Johnny Damon (214) and Mike Sweeney (206) of the Royals were the dynamic duo.


You may note that all of those instances were done in the American League. The last time a National League duo achieved this was in 1998 when Dante Bichette (219) and Vinny Castillo (206) of the Colorado Rockies did so.


How often have three teammates all reached 200 hits? Since 1930, it’s been done six times – the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs in 1930, the 1935 New York Giants, the 1963 St. Louis Cardinals, the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers and the 1991 Texas Rangers.


Only once since 1930 has four teammates each reach 200 hits in the same season – the 1937 Detroit Tigers.


Miguel Tejada nearly joined the list of 200+ hits, but fell one short. He went 1-4 in the Astros’ last game, leaving him with 199 total hits. It would have been his fourth 200 hit season.


So, what about the one-game playoff between the Tigers and the Twins? Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers currently has 196 hits. Since this 163rd game counts as part of the regular season, he could reach 200. If so, we’ll add an addendum to this report (see update below). It would be his first 200 hit season. In 2005 with the Marlins, he had 198 hits, the closest he’s come to 200.


Joe Mauer of the Twins has 189 hits, so it’s unlikely he’ll reach 200 this season.


UPDATE: In a thrilling 6-5 Twins win over the Tigers in the 12th inning, Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers went 2-5, meaning that he matched his 2005 total of 198 hits. Also, Joe Mauer of the Twins went 2-4, bringing his hit total to 191 for the year.


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