Ichiro Suzuki just played the final game of his storied baseball career. Fittingly, it happened in Japan, where it all began for him as an 18-year-old in 1992 with the Orix BlueWave.
Before heading to North America, Ichiro collected 1,278 hits and seven batting titles across nine seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball. The 45-year-old finishes his career with 4,367 hits - a total that no professional player has ever accrued - on his way to becoming a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer on two continents. Here's where his MLB stats rank historically in several categories.
Ichiro led the majors in hits seven times, including five years in a row. He burst onto the scene in 2001 with a 242-hit campaign on his way to winning American League MVP, the AL batting title (.350 average), and AL Rookie of the Year. In 2004, at the age of 30, Ichiro somehow managed to top his historic first season by collecting 262 knocks and hitting a jaw-dropping .372 to win his second batting title. That broke an 84-year-old record for total hits in a single season, previously held by George Sisler.
Hitting was Ichiro's calling card, yet base-stealing prowess was another part of his dynamic skill set, as opposing teams had to deal with his speed once he reached base. In his vaunted rookie season, he swiped 56 bags, which led the majors that year. He accrued 30-plus stolen bases in nine of the next 10 seasons, including 40-plus four times. Only Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford registered more stolen bases in that time frame. He finished his career with 509, which makes him just the seventh player in MLB history to steal 500 bases and record 3,000 hits.
Ichiro compiled the second-most WAR (6.0), according to FanGraphs, on the 116-win Seattle Mariners team in 2001. Following his rookie campaign, he put up at least 4.0 WAR in eight of the next nine seasons, including a career-best 7.1 in 2004. During his first decade in the majors, only Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Barry Bonds accumulated more total WAR than Ichiro's 53.1. Those three guys changed games by hitting a ton of home runs. Ichiro did it by predominantly hitting singles (2,514 in his career), stealing bases, scoring runs, playing outstanding defense (10 Gold Gloves), and being an all-around outstanding player, as 10 consecutive All-Star Game appearances can attest.
Eight. That's how many times Ichiro scored 100-plus runs in a season, including a whopping 127 in his rookie year, and he did it eight times in a row. Ichiro's blazing speed allowed him to score from second base on a single, and when he saw a ball split the outfielders, he could turn on the burners to score all the way from first. Only four players - Pujols, A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Johnny Damon - scored more runs than Ichiro from 2001-10.
"If I'm allowed to hit .220, I could probably hit 40 (homers), but nobody wants that," Ichiro proclaimed in 2007. The statement left people wondering what kind of power hitter he could have been if he changed his approach at the plate from spray hitting to pull hitting. Ichiro didn't have the build of a prototypical slugger, but when he squared one up, he was able to drive it with authority. He only hit more than 10 home runs in three seasons, with his career high 15 in 2005. Coincidentally, he finishes with the same number of homers as Ty Cobb, the player he was compared to the most as a pro. What was arguably Ichiro's most memorable round-tripper didn't even count - he hit the All-Star Game's first-ever inside-the-park home run in 2007.
Driving in runs wasn't a big part of Ichiro's game, as he was a leadoff hitter for the majority of his MLB career. However, he did come through when opportunities presented themselves, hitting .308/.404/.386 with RISP. He collected 60-plus RBIs five times despite being a table-setter in Seattle for the likes of Edgar Martinez, John Olerud, Bret Boone, and Adrian Beltre.