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Ichiro's Goin' to Sisler's! Ichiro's Goin' to Sisler's!
2004-10-02 22:45
by Mike Carminati

Ichiro Suzuki had three hits yesterday to top George Sisler's single-season hits record by two (259). Sisler had held the record for 84 years, but I don't think he's much put out having died over thirty years ago. But the might have to change his plaque.

It's odd that the record stood for so long with the schedule being expanded from 154 to 162 games, the number of major-league clubs nearly doubling, and the addition of the designated hitter. One with think that the additional games and additional players would help increase the odds that a player amass more than 157 hits in a season. Add in two offensive surges in the late-Twenties/early-Thirties and over the past decade or so. And then consider that the hits record was set and broken thirteen times in the previous fifty years, three times by one man, and it seems even odder.

Here are all the men to hold the hits record:

187166Cal McVey
187299Ross Barnes
1873137Ross Barnes
1875143Ross Barnes
1879146Paul Hines
1883159Dan Brouthers
1884185Fred Dunlap
1886193Dave Orr
1887225Tip O'Neill
1894237Hugh Duffy
1896240Jesse Burkett
1911248Ty Cobb
1920257George Sisler
2004259Ichiro Suziki

Five of those men of in the Hall of Fame (Sisler, Cobb, Burkett, Duffy, and Brouthers).

In 84 years, there were men who came close to the record, Ichiro is the first to break it. Here is everyone who came within 20 hits of Sisler's record only to fall short:

Bill Terry1930254
Lefty O'Doul1929254
Al Simmons1925253
Chuck Klein1930250
Rogers Hornsby1922250
George Sisler1922246
Ichiro Suzuki2001242
Babe Herman1930241
Heinie Manush1928241
Wade Boggs1985240
Darin Erstad2000240
Rod Carew1977239
Don Mattingly1986238
Harry Heilmann1921237
Joe Medwick1937237
Paul Waner1927237

Ten of the men on that list and eight of the nine closest came within a decade of Sisler. The next didnít come to 1977 and the one after that until 1985.

It becomes even more pronounced when one reviews the number of men who hit at least 200 hits in a season:

DecadePlayers with 200 H

(The 2000s include eight this season.)

There were 199 men who had at least 200 hits in a season within two decades of Sisler's record. In the last 55, there were just 220. And even with offenses surging in the Nineties, there six fewer 200-hit seasons than in each of the two previous decades, which were known more for anemic offenses (other than a slight power surge 1985-87).

Maybe, this decade was destined to be the one in which the record was finally broken as the projected total number of 200-hit seasons (64) would be the highest total since the Thirties.

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