Ichiro Suzuki has been quoted as recently as Saturday as saying, “Of course I want to play baseball next year.” A Japanese news agency, Kyodo, quoted him as saying “I feel like a big dog at a pet shop that hasn’t been sold.”
Ichiro is a free agent after the Miami Marlins declined to pick up the $2 million option on his contract. At 44, Ichiro became the oldest active Major League Baseball player in 2017 after Bartolo Colon was designated for assignment by the Braves.
In fact, in 2017, Ichiro set or broke records every month of the season (not to mention the many he has set and broken throughout his career):
- 05/23/17 – scored his 1,400 run;
- 06/14/17 – became the inter-league hits leader (365), passing Derek Jeter;
- 06/25/17 – became the oldest player to start a game in center field since 1900, breaking Rickey Henderson’s record;
- 06/29/17 – became the oldest active MLB player;
- 07/06/17 – became the all time leader in MLB hits among foreign-born players;
- 08/26/17 – set the all time Marlins’ single season franchise record for pinch hits (22);
- 09/03/17 – set MLB record for most pinch-hit at-bats in a season, with 84;
- 09/08/17 – became the sixth player all time to hit 2,500 career singles;
- 09/08/17 – became the eighth right fielder of all-time to record over 4,000 putouts at the position;
- 09/11/17 – set MLB record for most pinch hit plate appearances in a season, with 95.
Ichiro has become an icon in the sport, both with his glove as a ten-time Gold Glove winner and with the consistency of his bat as a lifetime .312/.355/.403 hitter with 117 home runs, 780 runs batted in and 509 stolen bases. FanGraphs ranks Ichiro as the third best base runner in MLB history and the fifth best defensive outfielder of all time.
Ichiro’s greatest achievement is now longevity to the current baseball fan, but his lifetime of individual achievements should not be overlooked by serious fans of the game. Mike Axisa of CBS Sports has said that Ichiro’s “value transcends what he does on the field—Ichiro helps put butts in seats and is one of the most globally recognized players in the sport.”
Baseball fans will always enjoy the unique abilities, talents and professionalism of Ichiro and look forward to cheering for him on wherever he may play in 2018.