Ichiro, Pujols: Hits just keep on coming

Originally Published: April 22, 2005
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

And now, by popular demand, five classic Useless Info nuggets apiece devoted to those two ever-popular hit kingsIchiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols:

Useless Ichiro Information
• Who says our man Ichiro can't hit .400? In fact, he has hit .400 (.402, to be exact) – over his last 108 games (through Thursday). And over his last 150 games, he was hitting a ridiculous .389.

Ichiro Suzuki
Suzuki

That means that even over that 150-game span – stretching nearly a full calendar year – he would have needed only seven more hits to reach .400. So why couldn't he do that? Heck, he was probably thrown out by half a step 25 times.

• Was there any Ichiro stat last year that made less sense than his runs-scored total (101)? We're still wondering how a guy could get 262 hits, reach base 315 times and still manage to score only 101 runs. It's sure tough to do.

How tough? Well, since 1900, only one man ever reached base that many times in a season and scored fewer runs – Richie Ashburn, who was on base 316 times for the 1958 Phillies but got to travel those other 270 feet around the bases only 98 times.

• Hey, that note above just inspired us to invent a new stat – Runs Not Scored.

You cipher that one by subtracting runs scored from times reaching base. And what we learned, after inventing that stat, was that, in the age of the 162-game schedule, only two American Leaguers ever racked up more Runs Not Scored than the Mariners allowed Ichiro to compile last year:

Wade Boggs, 1985 – 233 (340 times on base, 107 runs)
Carlos Delgado, 2000 – 219 (334 times on base, 115 runs)

Boggs also tied Ichiro in 1988 by not scoring 214 times. And in the National League, Barry Bonds has had seasons of 247 (2004), 239 (2003) and 215 (2001), while Pete Rose racked up 215 Runs Not Scored for the 1979 Phillies.

• It isn't exactly true that Ichiro gets two hits every game. But it sure seems like it. Over the last two years (through Thursday), he had 89 multi-hit games – but only 59 one-hit games.

• Finally, Ichiro is once again leading the American League in intentional walks, something he has already done twice (2002 and 2004). Which is pretty amazing for a guy who didn't even hit 10 homers in either of those seasons.

In the DH era, only three American Leaguers have ever been intentionally walked 19 times or more in seasons in which they made fewer than 10 home-run trots – Ichiro, Boggs and Rod Carew. Here's the whole list, courtesy of Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia:

Intentional walks
Year IBB Homers
1. Ichiro Suzuki 2002 27 8
2. Wade Boggs 1991 25 8
T3. Wade Boggs 1992 19 7
T3. Rod Carew 1978 19 5
T3. Ichiro Suzuki 2004 19 8
T3. Wade Boggs 1990 19 6
T3. Wade Boggs 1983 19 3

Useless Albert Pujols Information
It sometimes seems as if Albert Pujols just got to the big leagues. But already, in just four full seasons, he has run up ...

Albert Pujols
Pujols

• More 30-homer seasons (4) than Roger Maris or Dave Winfield.

• More 40-homer seasons (2) than Frank Robinson or Joe DiMaggio.

• More 120-RBI seasons (4) than Willie Mays or Stan Musial.

• More 110-run seasons (4) than Tris Speaker or Tim Raines.

• More 190-hit seasons (3) than Ted Williams or Hack Wilson.

• More 80-extra-base-hit seasons (3) than Hank Aaron or Edgar Martinez.

Outside of that, of course, he hasn't done much.

• Nothing is more impressive about Pujols than how little swinging and missing he does. Since the 2004 All-Star break, this guy had struck out a mere 32 times (through Thursday) in 337 at-bats. Just for comparison's sake, Adam Dunn averaged 32 strikeouts a month last year.

• A lot has been made of Pujols' starting his career with four straight seasons of 120 RBI or more. But only seven players in history ever had a streak longer than that at any point in their careers. Not coincidentally, you can locate a plaque for all of them in Cooperstown, N.Y.:

Lou Gehrig 8 (1927-34)
Babe Ruth 7 (1926-32)
Joe DiMaggio 6 (1936-41)
Jim Bottomley 5 (1925-29)
Chuck Klein 5 (1929-33)
Jimmie Foxx 5 (1930-34)
Hank Aaron 5 (1959-63)

Here's yet another seldom-seen Pujols feat: He has run off back-to-back seasons of 40-plus homers and 50-plus doubles. Only one other player in history has ever done that – Todd Helton (in 2000-01). But of course, Helton plays in a ballpark with no gravity (Coors Field), which always helps.

• Finally, could this man possibly be any more consistent? Going into this season, Pujols had had a .300 batting average and a .500 slugging percentage in 13 of the last 15 months (starting in July 2002). The only player in baseball who can beat that is some guy named Bonds (14 of 15).

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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