Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Case for Ichiro Suzuki 3/23/19

Hey baseball fans!

Ichiro Suzuki is finally hanging up his cleats, ending a legendary baseball career which spanned almost three decades. To commemorate his career and to officially get the Ichiro Hall of Fame Hype Train started, let's talk about all of the reasons that Ichiro will end up in Cooperstown.

NPB Greatness
There's plenty of Hall of Fame precedence working for Ichiro, but let's start with the very beginning. Obviously, it's no secret that Suzuki didn't start his professional baseball career in the United States. It actually started with the Orix Blue Wave (now called the Buffaloes) of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, the Japanese equivalent of the MLB. Besides his first two seasons, which were spent in and out of the farm system of the Blue Wave, Ichiro never batted under .342 during his nine-year career in Japan, won seven Gold Gloves, and three MVP awards. Even without his Major League success, Ichiro deserves Hall of Fame consideration, as hitters such as Josh Gibson currently reside in the Hall of Fame without taking a single qualified swing for an MLB team.

The First Seattle Years
Ichiro's twelve-year stint with the Mariners from 2001-2012 was historic. He won Rookie of the Year and MVP in 2001, which had only happened once before (by Fred Lynn), set the hits record in 2004 with 262 single-season hits, and had ten 200-hit seasons, along with seven years in which he led the league in hits! The bottom line is that he was a hitting machine and had 2,244 hits in his first ten years on the Mariners, all of which were years he made the All Star Game. In addition, he was a tremendous fielder, winning ten Gold Gloves in Seattle!!

When he was traded to the Yankees in the middle of the 2012 season, Suzuki was 38 years old. Had he retired right then and there, he would've still been a Hall of Famer. Why? Well, besides the acclaim he received as a literal baseball god, Ichiro's per season averages were well above par for Hall of Fame standards. A prime example of this sort of career is Ralph Kiner, who started off his career by winning seven straight home run titles as a member of the Pirates during the late '40s and early '50s, but had to retire earlier than expected due to back problems. It took the full 15 years, but Kiner eventually got into Cooperstown via the BBWAA ballot. This is not me comparing Ichiro Suzuki to Ralph Kiner, but I do just want to show how Ichiro is a deserving Hall of Famer on so many different levels, particularly using the "per-year" discipline in this case.

3,000 Hits
Ichiro didn't need that many more Ichiro-like seasons to get to 3,000 hits after his time in Seattle, but with the Yankees and Marlins for about six years, he was more of a role player. Nonetheless, Suzuki managed to make it to 3,000 hits, which is an automatic bid into the Hall of Fame. Sure, it would be nice to not see his stats tarnished by years in which he batted south of .300, but 3,000 hits is 3,000 hits, no matter if you manage to do it in ten years or 30 years.

So, what have we learned from Ichrio Suzuki's magnificent career? The answer is simple: he's amazing. Thank you, Ichiro, for everything that you gave to the game of baseball in the US, Japan, and the world. Now, only one question remains: will he join the 100% Club? I'm sure Mo could use some company. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

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