Word has surfaced from several Japanese news sources that former Yankees playoff hero Hideki Matsui will soon officially announce his retirement. There have been rumors that he will make the announcement in New York where he began his 10-year major league career after playing professionally in Japan for 10 seasons.
Of course, Matsui will be remembered most fondly for his tremendous performance with the Yankees in the 2009 World Series, when he hit .615 with three homers and eight RBI in 14 plate appearances to earn MVP honors. But Matsui’s list of accomplishments on two different continents is one of the most impressive of all-time. After being named the Central League MVP in Japan three times, he signed with the Yankees in December of 2002 to much fanfare. Unlike many others that have attempted to make the quantum leap, Matsui transitioned well and became a key cog for the Yankees for seven seasons. He had four seasons with at least 100 RBI, five with at least 20 homers and was named to the All-Star team twice.
After one-year stints with the Angels, A’s and Rays, Matsui is calling it quits at the age of 38. His final season was cut short when he was released by Tampa Bay in July after his average had dipped to .147. In my mind, Matsui will go down as the second-best Japanese-born position player to play in the U.S. after Ichiro. He finished as a .282 hitter in the majors with 175 homers and 760 RBI, but it was the World Series title that truly cemented his legacy in Yankees’ history.