Effective today, first ballot Hall-of-Famer Ichiro Suzuki is transitioning to the role of Special Assistant to the Chairman with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners selected the contract of former Mets reliever Erik Goeddel from Triple-A Tacoma to take Ichiro’s place on the active roster.
“We want to make sure we capture all of the value that Ichiro brings to this team off the field,” Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said. “This new role is a way to accomplish that. While it will evolve over time, the key is that Ichiro’s presence in our clubhouse and with our players and staff improves our opportunity to win games. That is our number-one priority and Ichiro’s number-one priority.”
This is an interesting situation as the 44 year-old Ichiro is not officially retiring.
“He is not retiring,” Ichiro’s agent John Boggs clarified to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. “He’s taking on a different role for 2018, and 2019 has yet to evolve.” When Rosenthal asked if Ichiro might return for the team’s opening series next season in Japan, Boggs replied, “There is always that possibility… The future has yet to be determined.”
Suzuki had appeared in 15 games for the Mariners in 2018, recording nine hits in 45 at-bats (all singles). He is slashing .205/.255/.205 this season. That is a very small sample size, as even at 44 years-old, Suzuki still seems more than capable of being an MLB-caliber player.
Ichiro will undoubtedly go down as one of the best hitters of all time and will without-a-doubt be elected into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot his name is written on. If he were to never play another MLB game, he would retire with 3089 hits (most among active players) and 509 stolen bases (2nd most among active players behind Jose Reyes). When you add the 1,278 hits he recorded in Japan before coming to the Majors at age 27, that’s 4,367 total hits — More than Pete Rose‘s 4,256.
He has a career .311/.355/.402 slash line with 362 doubles, 96 triples (including #3000), 117 home runs, and 780 RBIs. He won two batting titles (.350 in 2001, .372 in 2004), won AL MVP and AL Rookie of the Year in 2001, was elected to the All Star Team and won a Gold Glove every season from 2001-2010, and won three Silver Slugger Awards. I’m not done, there’s plenty more.
Ichiro did not record less than 200 hits until his 11th season when he notched “only” 184. Through his first 10 seasons, he averaged 159 games per season with 224 hits, 26 doubles, seven triples, and nine home runs with a .331/.376/.430 slash line.
He led the Major Leagues in hits seven times, including a season where he set the all-time single-season hits record with 262 in 2004. He hit .372 that season, and his 262 hits eclipsed George Sisler‘s 257 mark which he accomplished in 154 games in 1920.
The list of accolades goes on, but you get the gist. This guy is very good and has been for a very long time, and if he is retiring…
Ichiro, we here at Metsmerized Online salute you!