BY Steve Rudman 09:53AM 05/04/2011

Nobody Asks But Us: Ichiro, Pineda make waves

Ichiro had 14 multi-hit games in April, and the Mariners’ Michael Pineda starred enough to earn Rookie of the Month thanks to four wins and a 2.01 ERA.

Ichiro leads the major leagues in multi-hit games. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Ichiro finished April with 14 multi-hit games, most in Major League Baseball. That included a four-hit game against Detroit on April 19. What is Ichiro’s highest total of multi-hit games in a month? And how do you rate Michael Pineda’s first month in the major leagues?

We’ll tackle Ichiro first. Fourteen obviously isn’t bad, but Ichiro has had more in a month many times. In May,2004, en route to 262 hits, Ichiro produced 18 multi-hit games (May is frequently his best batting average month). He also had 17 multi-hit games in August 2004, when he had a franchise-record 56 hits, and 16 multi-hit games in May 2001. Ichiro has had six months with 15-multi-hit games, the last in June 2009.

Of more interest to us than Ichiro’s top multi-hit months: A couple of weeks ago, after Ichiro produced the 44th four-hit game of his career, we posted a chart comparing that total to the totals of modern-era Hall of Famers who finished their careers with at least 3,000 hits. We would have stayed away from Ichiro, statwise, for a while, except that Ichiro won’t let us.

Since his four-hit extravaganza on April 19 in a 13-3 Mariner victory over the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field, Ichiro has produced seven more multi-hit games (six with two hits, one with three hits), enabling him to exceed 700 multi-hit games for his career — while just barely into his 11th season in the Major Leagues.

It’s interesting — in fact, astonishing — how this compares the totals compiled by modern era Hall of Fame batters (those who spent the majority of their careers performing in the era of divisional play: since 1969) — in the first 11 years of their careers.

With 705 career multi-hit games (through Tuesday), Ichiro has 54 more (practically a full season’s worth) than No. 2 Kirby Puckett, who had 651 such contests for the Minnesota Twins between 1984-94.  Ichiro produced 705 multi-hit games while playing in 1,617 contests. Puckett had 651 in 1,646.

Most multi-hit games by modern-era Hall of Famers (or players with 3,000 hits) through the first 11 seasons of their careers (again, Ichiro is barely into his 11th season):

Years Player Multi Hits Skinny
2001-11 Ichiro 705 Leads MLB with 14 multi-hit games
1984-94 Kirby Puckett 651 4 200-hit seasons between 1986-89
1963-73 Pete Rose 636 Like Ichiro, posted 10 200-hit seasons
1982-92 Wade Boggs 606 High batting average of .368 in 1985
1962-72 Lou Brock 584 Had 4 seasons of 60+multiple-hit games
1982-92 Tony Gwynn 584 Career-high batting average .398 in ’94
1967-77 Rod Carew 567 Produced 70 multi-hit games in 1977
1977-87 Eddie Murray 537 Finished with 3,255 hits, 504 homers
1961-71 Carl Yastrzemski 493 Last man to win the Triple Crown, 1967
1987-97 Rafael Palmeiro 488 Collected 3,000th hit at Safeco Field
1974-84 Robin Yount 486 Career-high 61multi-hit games in 1982
1973-83 George Brett 484 Best year came in 1980, when he hit .390
1988-98 Roberto Alomar 472 Had 61 multi-hit games in 1996
1988-98 Craig Biggio 470 Finished with 3,060 hits, 291 HRs
1982-92 Cal Ripken 468 Had career-best 73 multi-hit games in ’91
1978-88 Paul Molitor 449 Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004
1973-83 Dave Winfield 426 Had 3,110 hits, 465 HRs in 22 seasons

Ichiro’s 705 multi-hit games are the most in the Major Leagues since 2001, in fact, 133 more than No. 2 Derek Jeter of the Yankees. Leaders in multi-hit games since Ichiro came into the majors:

Year Player Multi-Hits Skinny
2001-11 Ichiro 705 Career-best 80 multi-hit games in 2004
2001-11 Derek Jeter 572 Neds 50 hits to reach 3,000 for career
2001-11 Albert Pujols 555 News 80 hits to reach 2,000 for career
2001-11 Michael Young 555 4 straight 200-hit seasons starting in ’03
2001-11 Juan Pierre 534 Has 4 200-hit seasons since 2001
2001-11 Vladimir Guerrero 519 Posted 61 multi-hit games in 2006
2001-11 Miguel Tejada 505 Best year was 2004: 150 RBIs
2001-11 Jimmy Rollins 499 Career-high 63 multi-hit games in ’04
2001-11 Todd Helton 478 Career-high 63 multi-hit games in 2000
2001-11 Bobby Abreu 470 Had career-best 57 multi-hit games in ’08
2001-11 Edgar Renteria 410 Career-high .322 batting avg. in 2007

Since the beginning of divisional play in 1969, no player has produced more multi-hit games in a season than Ichiro had in 204 — 80. Only two players have produced more multi-hit games in a year than the 75 Ichiro had as a rookie in 2001.

Year Player Team Hits Games
2004 ICHIRO Mariners 262 80
1986 Don Mattingly Yankees 238 79
2000 Darin Erstad Angels 240 77
1996 Lance Johnson Mets 227 75
2001 ICHIRO Mariners 242 75
1989 Kirby Puckett Twins 215 74
1988 Kirby Puckett Twins 234 73
1991 Cal Ripken Orioles 210 73
1969 Pete Rose Reds 218 72
1985 Wade Boggs Red Sox 240 72
1996 Paul Molitor Twins 225 72
1975 Dave Cash Phillies 213 71
1980 Willie Wilson Royals 230 71
1969 Matty Alou Pirates 231 70
1971 Joe Torre Cardinals 230 70
1973 Pete Rose Reds 230 70
1977 Rod Carew Twins 239 70
1984 Tony Gwynn Padres 213 70
2004 Juan Pierre Marlins 221 70
2004 Michael Young Rangers 216 70

On Tuesday, Major League Baseball selected Michael Pineda as the American League’s Rookie of the Month for April (first Mariners rookie to win the award since Rafael Soriano in 2003). Pineda went 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in the season’s first month after losing his debut game. We went back to 2003 and looked at all starting pitchers selected Rookie of the Month, and ranked them according to ERA. This is how Pineda compares (note that current Mariner Aaron Laffey, then pitching for Cincinnati, had the best ERA among Rookie of the Month winners):

Year Month Player Team Record IP BB SO ERA
2008 May Aaron Laffey Indians 3-2 34.0 7 19 0.79
2003 June Dontrelle Willis Marlins 5-0 34.2 8 28 1.04
2005 August Joe Blanton Athletics 3-1 46.0 14 36 1.17
2006 July Francisco Lirano Twins 4-1 41.2 13 55 1.51
2004 August Frank Francisco Rangers 3-0 16.0 7 16 1.69
2006 May Justin Verlander Tigers 4-1 36.1 6 18 1.73
2011 April MICHAEL PINEDA Mariners 4-1 31.1 12 30 2.01
2005 June Joe Blanton Athletics 5-1 43.2 9 28 2.06
2006 June Francisco Lirano Twins 4-1 35.1 7 35 2.31
2007 June Brian Bannister Royals 3-1 39.1 10 27 2.75
2007 August Brian Bannister Royals 4-1 40.1 9 16 2.90

YourThoughts

  • Tim

    If both Pineda and Laffey can keep doing what they are doing this year while getting any kind of support offensively, this will be a fun season, whether we win the division or not.

  • jafabian

    Like to see the M’s offer Jaime a one day contract so he retires as an M but I bet he holds out for the Phillies.  Be surprised if they do that for him though.

  • jafabian

    I thought the M’s were playing in Coors for awhile there!  Wha’ hoppen????

  • jafabian

    This is a question better addressed in September.  Of 2013.  The M’s looked like they were making progress in Don Wakamatsu’s first year as manager then took a big step backwards the following year.  IMO, the onus is on ownership to keep this team together, let it grow and more importantly make the right decisions in making it better.  They can’t afford to throw money at the Richie Sexson’s and Rich Aurilla’s and bring them into the clubhouse but by the same token can’t settle for Russ Davis and let Mike Blowers go in the name of saving money.  

  • RadioGuy

    I’m still from Missouri on how well this youth movement is going to come out long-term because hope is based more on projection than reality, but I’ve always been with Wedge on how much raw talent the M’s organization has collected.  It was obviously nice to see the output in Texas, but that’s one team and one ballpark.  I’m not going to say a corner has been turned because these guys are SO young in terms of MLB experience, but we’re seeing signs that the light may be starting to go on with some of them. 

    Bascially, I’m with jafabian:  It’s going to take at least another year or two to really have a grasp on what we have here.  Art mentioned in a reply beneath a similar column that a veteran power hitter would really help this lineup, and I agree (having an outgoing positive influence in the dugout and clubhouse a la Buhner or McLemore would be beautiful, too), but we have what we have. 

    This is a process:  One step forward and two steps back is just painful…one step forward and one step back is a sign of stability…two steps forward and one step back is progress and ultimately contention.  Right now, we’re approaching a sort of “painful stability:” you can see signs, but nothing consistent about them.  Still, I am so much more optimistic about the longterm future of this team than I was in 2010.

  • Cruddly

    I believe the Mariners already have a pretty good, if not  great pitching coach in Willis.  This and the fact that he is a close friend and long time associate of Wedge would seem to preclude any possibility of Moyer being hired in that capacity.  I actually meant to say that he might do play by play some day — not just commentary.