The Little Things

Home runs make headlines and draw loud standing ovations. But baseball is about much more than hitting homers. Many of the best players in baseball history haven't been home run hitters. They are the hitters who get on base so that the big sluggers can drive them home.

Two such players recently reached important milestones. Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki don't hit 500-foot moon shots and will never lead the league in homers, but they are two of the best players and their actions help their teams win games.

Jeter: The Yankee shortstop recently became the team's all-time hits leader with 2,722 base hits. He passed Lou Gehrig, a Hall-of-Fame first baseman who played for the Yankees in the 1920s and 30s. While Gehrig was a slugger with high home run and RBI totals, Jeter specializes in getting on base. He helps his team by scoring a lot of runs.

Ichiro: If a ballplayer gets 200 hits in a season, that is considered a very good year. Ichiro Suzuki, the Seattle Mariner outfielder, has collected 200 or more hits in nine consecutive seasons! He has led the league in hits the last three seasons and he is leading the league this year, too. In 2004 he had 262 hits, an all-time baseball record.

Good Teammates: Both Jeter and Ichiro excel at doing the little things. These are important parts of the game that often get overlooked. They get clutch two-out hits to keep rallies alive and they don't strike out very often. Even when they get out, they still try to move runners around the bases. Home runs get all the headlines, but singles, doubles and good batting averages are just as important. Jeter and Ichiro don't get the glory that comes with blasting home runs every night. But they try hard and do everything they can to help their teams win games and that makes them good teammates and great players.

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