Sep 24, 2010, 1:49 PM EDT
Matt Murton was a 2003 first-round pick who hit .286/.352/.436 in 1,058 plate appearances spread over 354 games for the Cubs, Rockies, and A’s, but for whatever reason never really got a shot to be an everyday player despite doing very well as a 24-year-old regular in 2004.
After spending most of last season at Triple-A he headed to Japan, signing with the Hanshin Tigers, and yesterday Murton became just the fourth player in Japanese history to reach 200 hits in a season. Not only that, but with 201 hits and 10 games remaining he has a chance to break the all-time record of 210 hits held by Ichiro Suzuki.
Murton is hitting .352 with 17 homers for Hanshin and has averaged 1.5 hits per game, which puts him on a 216-hit pace. However, as Daisuke Wakabayashi of the Wall Street Journal points out “there are past examples of Japanese pitchers refusing to challenge foreign players who are close to breaking Japanese baseball records.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Murton gets enough strikes to make a run at Suzuki’s record and if the big season in Japan will cause an MLB to give him another look.
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