Ichiro Suzuki has done one thing better than anyone since entering the majors in 2001, hit.
He joined the Mariners after a very good professional career in Japan. He was 27 and in the prime of his career. His first season saw him lead the Mariners to 116 wins (tied for most regular season wins). He was the first Japanese player to become an everyday player in the bigs and experts speculated whether his skills in Japan would translate into Majors. He quickly answered all questions in his first season. He led the league in hits (242), stolen bases (56), and batting average (.350). He won the Rookie of the Year and also the AL MVP. It was an amazing start to what has became an amazing career.
Ichiro started his career with 10 consecutive seasons of 200 hits or more. Only one other player has even had 10 consecutive seasons of 200 hits, hit king Pete Rose. He set the mark for most hits in the first 10 years of a career (2244) and also the single season mark of 262 in 2004. He set the record for the leading the American League in consecutive seasons from ’06-’10. He has a total of 2534 hits in his career, with an average of 222 hits per season. If he played in the Majors from the age of 20 and only averaged 175 hits for those seasons he would have nearly 3800 hits, which would be 3rd overall.
He has done much more than just hit since joining the Mariners. For a guy who has never hit more than 15 homeruns in a single season, he has led the American League in intentional walks three times (’02,’04,’09). He has had at least 30 stolen bases in his each season of his career with the exception of one,2009. He has won 10 gold gloves and led the American League in Putouts by a right fielder in ’03 and ’05. Ichiro has really been one of the finest players in his era.
By joining the Yankees, Ichiro has a chance to do something he hasn’t done since his first season in the Majors, make the playoffs! In his lone playoff appearance, he batted .421 in 2 series against the Indians and Yankees. He is certainly in the twilight of his career but deserves a shot at a World Series. He hit .272 last year and has only hit .261 so far in 2012. Yet, the Yankees decided they needed a hitter and took a chance that he could help on the basepaths with his speed. Ichiro has been a great player and deserves to find his bust in Cooperstown 5 years after he decides to retire.