Ichiro Suzuki announced his retirement Thursday in Japan, one of the most prolific baseball players in the history of the game.
Pacific League in Japan
Ichiro began his career in the Pacific League of Japan in 1992 at the age of 18. He achieved a .385 batting average as the Pacific League record and winning the young outfielder a record total of 7 times. He also hit 13 homeruns, had 29 stolen bases and winning three straight Pacific League MVP awards. In his stent in Japan Ichiro had 1,278 hits, .353 career batting average, and winning 7 golden gloves.
In 2000 a year away from his free agency, the Seattle Mariners won the right to negotiate with him and bid $13 million dollars. November, Ichiro signed a three-year, $14 million-dollar contract with the Seattle Mariners.
Due to restrictions between Japanese baseball and the MLB, Ichiro wasn’t allowed to play in the United States before 2001.
Major League Baseball
Ichiro didn’t have a preference on his number when first joining the team, he was given #51. His history of gold gloves in the Pacific League dubbed right field as “Area 51”.
He achieved a .350 batting average with 56 stolen bases his rookie year which lead the league in both categories since Jackie Robinson in 1949. The Mariners would also go on to win a Major League record of 116 wins, as he achieved the AL Rookie of the Year Award and the AL MVP.
Ichiro would played 13 years with Seattle Mariners, 3 years with the New York Yankees, and 3 years with Miami Marlins. For his career he averaged a .311 batting average, 509 stolen bases, 780 runs batted in, 117 home runs, and 3089 hits.
- AL Rookie of the Year (2001)
- AL MVP (2001)
- 10-time All-Star (2001-2010)
- All-Star Game MVP (2007)
- 10-time AL Gold Glove Winner (2001-2010)
- 3-time AL Silver Slugger Award (2001, 2007, 2009)
- 2-time AL Batting Average Leader (2001, 2004)
- 8-time AL at Bats Leader (2001, 2004-2008, 2010, 2011)
- 7-time AL Hits Leader
An Abundance of Records
It’s difficult to list every record that Ichiro holds, because of the sheer amount that he has (26). Some of the most notable records include:
- Most hits in a season- 262
- Most hits by a rookie in a season- 242
- Most seasons with 200 or more hits- 10
- Most consecutive stolen bases without caught in career- 45
- Only inside-the-park home run in MLB All-Star History- July 10, 2007
At 45 years-old Ichiro is the greatest Japanese player in the history of the MLB and will surely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, once eligible. He’s a 10-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, American League MVP, and a member of the 3,000-hit club.