A few of the night owls on the blog had an interesting discussion after the game last night.
Is Ichiro Suziki a Hall of Famer?
Forget what he did in Japan. It’s hard to take any league seriously where Kei Igawa was a star. You can speculate all you want about what Ichiro would have done had he been in the majors. But he wasn’t.
Focus instead on the nine seasons he has been in the majors. To me, he’s a slam-dunk Hall of Famer. Consider:
• Ichiro has been an All-Star nine times.
• He has won eight Gold Gloves.
• He is heading for his ninth consecutive season with 206+ hits. He also has gone eight straight years with 100+ runs.
• He is a career .333 hitter with a .378 on-base percentage. Among active players, only Albert Pujols has a higher average and that could change depending on the day.
• Ichiro has played in an amazing 1,387 of the 1,411 games Seattle has played since he arrived in 2001.
• Ichiro played in the postseason once, in 2001. He hit .421 in 10 games.
• He has clearly been one of the best hitters, base-runners and defensive players in the game since the day he arrived.
Ichiro is 35 and is signed through 2012. By then he could have roughly 2,600 hits and 1,250 runs scored. By any measurement, he is one of the best players in the game. That he spent the first half of his career in Japan is merely an addendum on his plaque in Cooperstown, not a valid reason to keep him out.
I’ll admit to some bias here. Ichiro is my favorite player in the majors and one of the most interesting athletes I’ve ever interviewed. He’s one of the few guys who can look cool just catching a routine fly ball.
If the Hall of Fame is supposed to recognize the best players, Ichiro has to be in.