Ichiro's Had One Hall of a Career
Prior to joining the Mariners, Ichiro played for what amounted to seven full seasons for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan. While there he amassed 1,278 hits, won seven batting titles, three MVP awards, and helped lead his team to the Pacific League Pennant in 1995. When he joined Seattle as a "rookie" in 2001, all he did was lead the league in batting, hits, and steals, while winning both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. Keep in mind he did all of this in an entirely new league where he didn't know the pitchers and could only speak a few words of English. It marked the beginning of an amazing run for Ichiro. Prior to last year, he had ten straight seasons where he batted over .300 and collected 200 or more hits. He was an all star and gold glove winner each of those years as well. His ten 200 hit seasons tied Pete Rose for most all time. And let's not forget 2004, when he eclipsed George Sisler's 83-year-old single-season hits record of 257 stroking 262 and batting an impressive .372. Sure Ichiro played in more games than Sisler that season, but no other modern player ever got close to the record. For instance, the most hits Rose ever had in a single season was 230.
So, here we are in Ichiro's 12th season with the Mariners. He sits at 2504 hits, when you combine that with his total from Japan he has 3,782 career hits. Only Rose and Ty Cobb have more. With any luck he'll steal his 450th base sometime in August, nothing too staggering but another part of his game worth considering. It's also worth remembering that a big part of all of those gold gloves he won is that bazooka he has for a right arm. OK, so he's getting older, I get it. But if his career ended today, wouldn't he still be a lock for the Hall of Fame?