The title of this post is not true. But it's less egregious than this paragraph written by Joe Morgan:If Ichiro ends up in the neighborhood of 2,200 hits, what would distinguish him from Maury Wills? The talented shortstop had 2,134 hits, stole 586 bases, won two Gold Gloves and was the National League MVP in '62 with the Dodgers … but he isn't in the Hall of Fame.
What would distinguish Ichiro from Maury Wills? Let's see:
In fourteen seasons as a major league ball player, how many times did Maury Wills finish with an OPS+ above 100 -- that is, how many times was he merely better than the average
major league hitter?
Ichiro has been above 100 in each of his four seasons in the league.
Enjoy conventional statistics for some reason? Fine. Maury Wills' career high in hits in a single season was 208. That's Ichiro's career low. Wills never passed 186 hits in any other season. Ichiro, meanwhile, if you don't recall, holds the record for hits in a season. That's right. More than anybody ever.
Let's look at batting average, even though that statistic is bad. Maury Wills' career average is .281. He hit over .300 twice over the course of his career. Ichiro's career average is .339.
Oh yeah, if you put any stock into Gold Gloves at all, Ichiro has four, one for each season he's played.
Granted, these stats don't include any sort of decline phase for Ichiro, but Ichiro's also missed out on some prime years of his career by playing in Japan for so long.
By the way, I can't for the life of me see how Maury Wills' 1962 NL MVP wasn't some sort of horrible travesty. He stole 104 bases, which is truly incredible, but his OPS+ was 99. Even discounting the fact that he wasn't a power hitter at all (6 HR), he only got on base at a .347 clip. Second place in the NL MVP voting that year? Willie Mays. His OPS+ that year was 166, he hit 49 home runs and he accumulated 141 RBI. To me, that's like handing an award to Scott Podsednik over Albert Pujols.
Ichiro Suzuki is probably a little overvalued by most baseball writers and fans, and his own MVP award is dubious, but his best years are way better than Maury Wills'. And that' s not even counting anything whatsoever he did in Japan.
Labels: ichiro, joe morgan