Let's take a break from the New York Yankees-Baltimore Orioles division-race pressure cooker and acknowledge and honor Derek Jeter's incredible season. The Yankee shortstop has topped 200 hits yet again, which is the eighth time in his career he's accomplished that feat, which moves him into the Top 5 of 200-hit seasons (actually Top 6 due to a tie). The all-time single-season mark is held by present Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, when he banged out 262 hits in 2004 with the Seattle Mariners, breaking St. Louis Browns first baseman George Sisler's record of 257, back in 1920. The first player to reach the 200-hit plateau in one season came in 1887, when Tip O'Neill (no, not that one, though the famous politician was nicknamed after the 19th-century ballplayer) racked up 225 hits playing for the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. Other facts involving hit records: There have been 18 players who have had five or more 200-hit seasons (with the only other active player besides the two Yankees being Michael Young). Only two players have reached the 200-hit plateau while getting 100 hits from both sides of the plate, and those players did it in consecutive seasons: Garry Templeton for the 1979 St. Louis Cardinals (111 hits from the left side of the plate, 100 from the right) and Willie Wilson for the 1980 Kansas City Royals (130 as a lefty, 100 as a righty). Here are the Top 5 players with the most 200-hit seasons.
4. Derek Jeter, Eight Seasons (Tie): Jeter's first season with 200 hits came in 1998, his third full year, when he had 203. The next year he led the league with 219, which was a career high. He reached the magic number of 200 three consecutive years, from 2005 to 2007. And the last time he did it was in 2009 (212). This will be the second time that he leads the AL in hits. Besides his eight seasons of 200 or more hits, he came close three other times, with 190 in 1997 and 191 in '01 and '02.
4. Paul Waner, Eight Seasons (Tie): Big Poison combined with his brother, Lloyd (Little Poison), to post the most combined hits by a brother tandem in major league history (5,611), edging out the three Alous and three DiMaggios. Paul Waner spent the majority of his 20 years (1926-'45) with the Pittsburgh Pirates (though he finished up his career with 10 games playing for the Yankees in '44 and '45, after spending brief stints with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves), and he piled up 3,152 hits. He has the most seasons with 215 or more hits (seven), twice leading the NL while also winning three batting titles. His biggest hit total came in his second season, 1927, with 237. He won the NL MVP that year and batted .333 in the World Series, when his Pirates were swept by the legendary Murderers' Row Yankees.
4. Lou Gehrig, Eight Seasons (Tie): Gehrig walked more than 100 times in 11 different seasons, but he still managed to collect 200 or more hits eight times, in his shortened career (2,721 hits from 1923 to '39). Babe Ruth did it three times, by the way. Gehrig led the league in hits once (in 1931), he compiled 210 hits in his Triple Crown 1934 season and his 220 hits in 1930 were a career best. Twice Gehrig led the league in doubles, once in triples and three times in home runs. His 162-game average for his career was a mind-boggling 204 hits.
3. Ty Cobb, Nine Seasons: Cobb played for 24 seasons (1905 to '28, with the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia A's; and he managed the Tigers from '21 to '26), and he set all kinds of hitting records in his controversial career. His 4,189 hits were a record, of course, until Pete Rose came along. Cobb led the AL in hits eight times, including 1909, when he won a Triple Crown (.377, nine home runs, 107 RBIs). His best hit total came in 1911, with 248. He even had a Derek Jeter-like season as a 37-year-old, in 1924, with 211 hits. Cobb batted over .400 three times and hit over .300 every season except his 41-game rookie year.
1. Ichiro Suzuki, 10 Seasons (Tie): No one's had a career quite like Ichiro, who didn't come to America to become a star, but, like Reggie Jackson did when he arrived in New York, he brought his star with him. He notched 200 hits in his first 10 years in the majors, which is a consecutive-season record. In his first year, when he won both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, he had 242 hits. He's led the league seven times and has had five seasons of 215 or more hits. Twice he led the league in batting, and he has the aforementioned single-season hit record. All of which will put him in Cooperstown.
1. Pete Rose, 10 Seasons (Tie): It's only fitting (and obvious) that the all-time hit leader be No. 1 on this list as well. Like Cobb, Rose spent 24 years in the majors (1963-'86), with the Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos. The five-position player led the NL in hits seven times and did it in three different decades. His season best was 230, in his MVP year of 1973. He came close three other times, having two 198-hit seasons and one of 192. His record 4,256 hits may never be eclipsed, but Jeter (3,301 hits) has an outside shot, and if Ichiro (2,604) had spent his whole career in the U.S. he may have had a chance, too.