When last I wrote about this, he had 138 hits with 37 games left to play. In the past 21 games, Ichiro has gotten 30 hits, leaving him 32 short with 16 games to play. He needs to average 2 hits per game the rest of the way, against the likes of the Yankees (3 games at home), the Rangers (3 more games at home), the Indians (1 game – on our travel day – to make up for a Cleveland
steamer rainout), the Twins (3 games @ Minnesota), the Rangers again (3 games in Texas), and finally Oakland (3 games at home).
Let me again say on the record that I’m in favor of Ichiro attaining his goal. In fact, while this 200-hits thing is probably one of the least important achievements going forward, I find it at least one of the most compelling reasons to watch. Sure, it’s not seeing how the youngsters finish (can Ackley get his average over .300 again? can Carp and Smoak find their power strokes in these final couple of weeks? can Furbush, Beavan, and/or Vasquez impress enough to be real contenders for next year’s rotation? can Pineda throw a change up?), but as far as drama is concerned, this is it.
There are two weeks left! Everything there is to be decided HAS been decided! The players who have won jobs for next year can’t un-win those jobs. The players who will be contenders for jobs next year won’t suddenly be on the chopping block based on these next 16 contests. All we need to do is finish this string of games, hope Felix & Pineda don’t blow out their arms, and hope to a much lesser extent that nobody else gets injured.
As far as drama is concerned? Aside from whether or not the Mariners surpass last year’s total run output (which is pretty much a lock), I got nothing. However, seeing Ichiro get to 200 hits when all the chips have been stacked against him (mostly by his own doing, since he just hasn’t been very good this year) is actually SOMEWHAT interesting.
32 hits, 16 games. As far as meaningless statistical milestones are concerned, this is the most excited I’ve been since 1996 when Ken Griffey Jr. was stuck on 49 homers going into the final three games against Oakland (when he was batted first in the lineup to maximize his number of plate appearances). Just imagine that final homestand against (again) Oakland, with Ichiro in the 180s or 190s in hits. I mean, it’s not a 1-game playoff to win a division, but at least it’s SOMETHING.
That having been said, my glass-half-empty side doesn’t think it’ll be close. I hope I’m wrong …