For 27 professional seasons in the United States and Japan, he was inevitable and improvisational. He played professional baseball — and hit and caught and hit and threw and hit and sometimes even pitched baseballs — with an excellence that endured over time and across continents.
He might be done. But, also, he might not. Because Ichiro is inscrutable even in the spotlight.
No, Ichiro can’t be fully comprehended by looking at his career statistics. But, damn those numbers are impressive. So let’s look back on just some of the stats and numbers that stand out from an iconic career:
Ichiro made his MLB debut on April 2, 2001 at age 27. He got two hits in his first game.
Ichiro’s Baseball America ranking before the 2001 season was No. 9.
A pioneer as a position player coming over from Japan, doubters didn’t think Ichiro could withstand the physical toll of the 162-game MLB season due to his slight frame.
Ichiro has played 18 MLB seasons, so far.
Ichiro received 27 first-place votes (of a possible 28) to be named the American League’s rookie of the year in 2001. Pitcher CC Sabathia received the only other first-place vote.
Ichiro received 11 first-place votes received in to also be named the American League’s Most Valuable Player in his rookie year.
Ichiro notched the 22nd-most career MLB hits.
Ichiro Suzuki has 3,089 career hits, most in MLB since 2001, his rookie season. Albert Pujols is 2nd with 2,998.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2018
They both debuted on April 2, 2001. pic.twitter.com/LYKbG6D6Lv
Ichiro established a new MLB single-season record with 262 hits in 2004. The previous record of 257 had stood since 1920.
Ichiro’s career MLB batting average is .311.
Number of at-bats Ichiro would need to go hitless in to drop his career MLB average below .300.
Ichiro has a career batting average of .311.— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) May 3, 2018
He would have to go hitless in his next 385 (!) at-bats to drop below .300. pic.twitter.com/gOjbzXXcPY
Ichiro threw 11 strikes in his inning of work. He surrendered one run on two hits without issuing a walk.
Ichiro racked up 509 career MLB stolen bases, including a league-leading 56 as a rookie.
There have only been seven MLB players with 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases: Ichiro, Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, Paul Molitor, and Lou Brock. The other six are in the Hall of Fame.
Ichiro won 10 Gold Glove Awards playing outfield for the Seattle Mariners.
Ichiro has 123 career MLB outfield assists, including this introductory laser beam in his first week with the Mariners. That’s only three fewer than noted cannon-arm haver Vladimir Guerrero.
Ichiro put up 10 consecutive seasons with 200+ hits, from 2001-2010. No other player in MLB history has 10 straight seasons with 200+ hits. Only Pete Rose has 10 seasons during an entire career with 200+ hits.
Ichiro made his professional debut at age 18 with the Orix BlueWave in Japan. This was in 1992.
Ichiro has 1,278 career NPB hits, including 210 in just 130 games in 1994.
After becoming a full-time player in 1994, Ichiro led the Pacific League in Japan in batting for seven seasons.
Playing seven full seasons — winning a batting title in each — and parts of two other seasons, Ichiro finished his career in Japan with a .353 batting average.
Ichiro won two American League batting titles: 2001 and 2004.
Ichiro was 44 years old when he made this catch.
Accounting for his seasons in Japan and the United States, Ichiro has 4,367 career professional hits.
There are no players with more top-tier professional hits than Ichiro. He is the hit king.