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Ichiro vs. Jeter

Over the weekend both Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki and New York's Derek Jeter tallied historic hits.

On Friday, Jeter passed Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees' all-time hits leader and currently stands at 2,764 over his 15-year career.

On Sunday, Ichiro became the first player in major league history to have at least 200 hits in nine consecutive years, a record that had been held by Willie Keeler for 108 years.

Jeter's approach and subsequent passing of Gehrig was met with more fanfare than Ichiro's mark. Between being the Yankees captain and a proven winner while also passing Gehrig, Jeter's feat generated more buzz, though Ichiro's achievement may be more impressive.

While both marks are built upon an impressively consistent body of work, Ichiro's also implies that he's never really had a down year. Ichiro's nine-year streak encompasses his entire career in the United States, which means that he started out hitting despite having to become acclimated to life on a completely different continent. What also sticks out is that Ichiro has been putting up his astonishing hits totals while playing for a Mariners team that has only had four winning seasons and just one playoff appearance during his career.

Meanwhile the most impressive thing about Jeter's hits total is the fact that, somehow, the Yankees have never had a player reach the 3,000 hits milestone. While Jeter's feat is no doubt impressive, he, unlike Ichiro, has routinely been surrounded by talent meaning opposing teams couldn't feel safe in pitching around him.

Though their teams have been on opposite ends of the success spectrum during the decade, the pair's numbers are fairly similar since 2001 (Ichiro's rookie season). Ichiro has a .333 batting average, .377 on base percentage and .433 slugging percentage over the last nine years to go along with nine all-star appearances and eight gold gloves (this year obviously still pending).

Over the same period, the Yankees captain has a lower average (.314) but a better OBP and slugging percentage (.383 and .454 respectively) yet somehow has two fewer all-star appearances and just three gold gloves.

Jeter dominates in one crucial category over his entire career, having won three World Series titles with New York. Of course, he hasn't won one since 2000, meaning that he and Ichiro are tied for championship rings over the past nine years.

While most people would readily claim that Jeter is a superior player to Ichiro, the numbers don't seem to bear that out but we'll open the floor to you guys.

If you were starting a new team and had to have either Jeter or Ichiro, who would you pick?

By CJ Holley  |  September 14, 2009; 12:07 PM ET
Categories:  Mariners , Yankees  | Tags: Derek Jeter, Seattle Mariners, ichiro suzuki, new york yankees  
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Comments

i'd take ichiro due to superior defense and speed. jeter's power numbers aren't a huge upgrade over ichiro's and in the last 9 years jeter's won the OBP battle between the two 5 times to ichiro's 4.

i don't trust jeter's improved defense this year to continue, especially moving forward to his late 30's and beyond. if i were going to choose a DH between the two in a few years i'd take the guy whose AVG is 16 points higher and K numbers are lower (by 43 a year).

jeter's not a bad choice, i'd just take ichiro over him.

Posted by: adampschroeder | September 14, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

4 world series titles, 96, 98, 99, 2000.

Posted by: Broked | September 14, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"Jeter dominates in one crucial category over his entire career"

Category = Plays in NY

Posted by: cbm92 | September 14, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Jeter's got more power and a higher On Base, which means alot more to me than batting average. Plus Jeter plays SS, whereas Ichiro plays RF, a position filled with dominating bats. I'd love to have em both, because Ichiro is awesome in his own right, but Jeter is the clear choice.

Posted by: CharlieF | September 14, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Something I wanted to add is all that being said, it was ridiculous how much coverage Jeter got for the record, and how little Ichiro got. Ichiro's record was more impressive... still, I'll take Jeter. Think of where they fall on all time greats in their position - Jeter is easily a top 10 SS, quite possibly top 5. Ichiro is nowhere near that.

Posted by: CharlieF | September 14, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Both are (or should be) future first-ballot Hall of Famers but if I was choosing sides I'd take Ichiro Suzuki first.

There's not even a moment of indecision about my choice.

Ichiro Suzuki is a superb outfielder and a club would find a way to get him into its lineup even if he was batting .200 not getting 200 hits per year. Derek Jeter's glove and defense is excellent, too, but I think Ichiro's is better.

At the plate, Jeter just passed Gehrig to become the all-time hit leader for one club. If Ichiro had played his entire career in the U.S. we'd be wondering if -- or maybe when -- he would pass Pete Rose to become the all-time hit leader for all clubs.

Posted by: greggwiggins | September 14, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

what a lot of you seem to be overlooking is that you're starting a team today with one of these two.

if you're willing to take a 35 year old SS who doesn't hit well enough to be a 3B, 1B or DH and has shown, until this year, diminishing range, then i'll take ichiro and destroy you. ichiro still has speed, which means he can lose a step and still be a solid fielder and good base runner. when jeter loses a step it's over.

forget the past people, look at the now and the future. the yankees are going to be hurting defensively at the end of the next contract they give jeter b/c they can't afford to let him go b/c of what he's done. that's why they're going to be paying him 20 mil a year for 3-4 years. and he's proven he's not willing to play anywhere else or a-rod would be the starting SS for the yankees and would have been since he got there.

Posted by: adampschroeder | September 14, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Is there any doubt that if Ichiro had played his entire career in the States that he would have broken Pete Rose's hit record? The guy is a machine when it comes to getting hits!

But comparing him to Jeter is like comparing apples and oranges. The 2 players have different strengths and weaknesses.

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | September 15, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

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