Murton Breaks Ichiro’s Hit Record
Former MLB outfielder Matt Murton accomplished something this week that few could have predicted. After being selected in the first round of the 2003 draft by the Boston Red Sox, Murton was a highly touted minor league outfielder until he was included in the 2004 trade that sent Nomar Garciaparra to Chicago and brought the Red Sox two vital pieces to their World Series run in Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. After debuting with the big league team in 2005 he would put up fairly decent numbers over parts of the next three seasons – .294/.362/.448, 28 HR, 104 RBI over 870 at bats – but never truly earned a consistent role with the organization. Midway through the 2008 season he was traded to Oakland as part of the deal that brought Rich Harden to Chicago. At the end of that season he was traded once again, to Colorado, largely due to a lack of playing time being available for him with the Athletics. Murton spent the entire 2009 season with the Rockies but was released in the winter to pursue a move to Japan.
Playing for the Hanshin Tigers, he hit an RBI single in the second inning on Tuesday against the Yakult Swallows that broke the all-time single season hits record in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League. It was Murton’s 221th hit of the season in his 142nd game. He’d add two more before the game ended bringing his season total to 213. He had tied the record the night before on what happened to be his 29th birthday. The previous record was set by Ichiro Suzuki when he had 210 hits in 1994 for the Orix Blue Wave. In 1994 the NPB season was only 130 games long. Since that time the season has been extended by 14 games.
When asked about the accomplishment after the game, Murton was quite humble about the moment but certainly seemed to appreciate the severity of his moment:
1994 and 2010 are two different seasons. He did it in 130 games. It is what it is, it’s a great accomplishment. In terms of Ichiro though, this doesn’t change anything. He’s one of the best players in baseball.
Congrats go out to Matt on his accomplishment. The Tigers hold a team option for his services for another year so it will be interesting to see how he follows this year’s production up in 2011. Video of the record-breaking hit can be found below.