In 2013, Adrian Beltre and Matt Carpenter tied for the major league lead in hits. Each had 199, making it the first time since 1990, when Willie McGee led the majors with 199 hits, that the a non-strike season saw nobody reach 200 hits.Jose Altuve had 225 hits and Michael Brantley racked up 200 in 2014, then last year Altuve had 200 and Dee Gordon led the majors with 205. This year, Altuve is leading baseball with 155 hits,
putting him on pace for 226. MORE: Ranking baseball's 50 best playersAll that Altuve has to do next is the same thing, every year through 2023, and he’ll match Ichiro’s most impressive achievement. From 2001-10, Ichiro had at least 200 hits every season. He led the majors seven times, including with a record 262 hits in 2004. His average hit total during the decade-long streak was 224, and he only failed to reach 210 hits in two of the seasons, 2002 and 2005.With his streak, Ichiro became the second player in major league history to reach 200 hits in 10 seasons. The other was Pete Rose, whose 10 seasons of 200-plus hits were non-consecutive – Rose did it in 1965-66, 1968-70, 1973, 1975-77 and 1979.As the only player in anything resembling active pursuit of Ichiro, the challenge for Altuve is to continue to hit at an elite level for seven-plus more years, which also means staying in pretty much perfect health for seven-plus more years. Altuve’s hit pace since the start of 2014 gives him 200 hits every 146 games, so even one trip to the disabled list for a pulled muscle could be the end of any thoughts of matching Ichiro, who during his 10-year run averaged 158.8 games per season.With just 15 hits to go before he reaches 1,000 for his career, still younger than Ichiro was when he arrived in the United States, there is a good chance for Altuve to match Ichiro’s accomplishment of joining the 3,000 hit club. But even having the best chance of anyone on the planet to get on Ichiro’s level for consistent excellence over a decade, it’s hard to like Altuve’s odds. That’s what separates the greats from the legends.