So Ichiro is now a Yankee! Is it just my perception – or is there some kind of unwritten rule out there that requires most of the great players to come to New York and wear the Yankee pinstripes before they retire?
After eleven and one half seasons in Seattle, Ichiro Suzuki is now roaming right field in Yankee Stadium, and, although he;s only hitting in the .260′s at age 38, the man still plays with all the speed, fire, and flare that have blessed him as one of the greatest players in the history of baseball.
Prevented from coming here by Japanese rules, Ichiro played his first nine seasons (1992-2000) of professional baseball in Japan, garnering over 1200 hits in the process. In November 2000, he was allowed to make himself available through the Japanese posting system for play in the American big leagues for the first time at age 27. The Seattle Mariners posted a winning bid of $23,125,000 for Ichiro’s services, allowing the great Japanese player to start his big league career in 2001.
Over the course of his eleven and one-half seasons in Seattle, Ichiro Suzuki has played light out baseball in the American League, batting .322 with a record ten seasons of 200 or more hits – while also establishing the all time record for most hits in a single season with 267 safeties in 2004. His ten seasons with 200 plus hits broke Wee Willie Keeler’s record of eight such years; his 267 most hits year beat the great George Sisler’s record of 257 hits in 1920.
Consider this “might have been” record too: In his first eleven seasons (2001-2011), Ichiro posted 2,428 total hits. This works out to a little better than 220 hits per year. Let’s just round it down to 200 for hypothetical purposes.
Had Ichiro also played his first nine Japanese seasons (1992-2000) in the American big leagues, let’s say he might have averaged at least 200 hits for those nine seasons too. That would have given him credit for an extra 1,800 hit.
2,428 actual hits plus 1,800 hypothetical hits equal a grand total of 4,228 possible career hits for Ichiro Suzuki.
At age 39, and that doesn’t happen until October 22, 2012, Ichiro Suzuki could be sitting on 4,228 career hits, with some gas left in the tank and playing for the Yankees, a club that likes owning all the records, anyway, and be going into the 2013 season needing only 29 more hits to break Pete Rose’s all time record of 4,256 hits.
What an awesome “what might have been” that one is!
Does Ichiro Suzuki belong in the Hall of Fame someday, or what?
And we’ve done nothing here to extoll his considerable base-running and defensive skills. Also, even if Ichiro had been only able to mainatin his Japanese baseball totals in the big leagues from 1992-2000, he would still be looking at a very high finish among the greatest hit collectors of all time.
Tags: Ichiro Suzuki