Tag: Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki, Marlins Agree to New Contract: Latest Details and Reaction

Ichiro Suzuki‘s career will continue for at least one more season, as the Miami Marlins agreed to a new deal with the veteran outfielder Tuesday.

The Marlins confirmed the deal, per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, while Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald noted it’s a one-year deal worth $2 million.

The 41-year-old former American League MVP had an unusual 2015 season. He played in 153 games, his most since 2012, but he had the worst offensive season of his career with a .229/.282/.279 slash line.

Ichiro does remain a strong defensive presence in right field, as FanGraphs credited him with saving nine runs.

Various injuries to Miami outfielders, most notably Giancarlo Stanton, provided the opportunity for Ichiro to play as often as he did.

There has never been any indication Ichiro wanted to bring his career to a close. David Waldstein of the New York Times noted the 10-time All-Star jokingly said last season he plans to play 10 more years.

The Marlins also saw the versatility Ichiro brings to the table. He was able to pitch in an MLB game for the first time in the season finale against the Philadelphia Phillies, firing a slider that would make a lot of pitchers jealous, per MLB Social:

All kidding aside, there is one big milestone Ichiro can shoot for in his return to Miami. He needs 44 more hits to pass Pete Rose (4,256) on the career hit list—Ichiro had 1,278 hits in Japanand 65 to reach the 3,000-hit mark as a Major League Baseball player.

The Marlins should start 2016 with a full complement of starting outfielders, led by Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, so Ichiro’s playing time out of the gate could be limited.

However, just as an opportunity arose this year, Ichiro understands none of Miami’s starting outfielders have a long track record of staying healthy. He’s going to have plenty of chances to play in 2016 to reach his milestones while hoping to get one more shot at the postseason.

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Ichiro Suzuki Makes Pitching Debut vs. Phillies in Marlins’ Final Game of 2015

After 15 years and 2,935 hits in MLB, Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki got to do something he’s always wanted to.

The 41-year-old got to pitch.

With the Marlins trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Miami manager Dan Jennings brought Ichiro in from right field to pitch.

Ichiro allowed a leadoff double to Phillies pinch hitter Odubel Herrera before recording his first out, a flyout from catcher Cameron Rupp. The next batter, pinch hitter Darnell Sweeney, doubled to right field to drive in Herrera. Ichiro would, however, get the next two batters out to lower his earned run average to 9.00.

The 10-time All-Star allowed one earned run on two hits (no strikeouts or walks) in his MLB pitching debut. Even though it wasn’t a scoreless frame, it was a great moment for the future Hall of Famer.

This isn’t the first time Ichiro has taken the mound as a professional. Back in 1996, he pitched in the All-Star Game in Japan.

[MLB.com, Miami Marlins]

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Ichiro Suzuki to Marlins: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Ichiro Suzuki isn’t done with Major League Baseball just yet.

The 41-year-old outfielder reportedly signed with the Miami Marlins, according to Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio, via Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:

The fact that Ichiro is planning on playing at least another season shouldn’t come as a surprise. The two-time batting champion made it clear in March 2014 that walking away from the game hadn’t been a topic for consideration.

“Retirement from baseball is something I haven’t even thought about,” he said, per ESPN.com.

Ichiro added that he had a lot left in the tank.

“Not just a few, many,” he said about the number of seasons he planned to play beyond 2014. “I feel there’s no reason for me to retire right now.”

In September, his attitude hadn’t changed, per Daniel Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal:

Despite climbing into his 40s, Ichiro hasn’t suffered the kind of massive decline that has afflicted other aging stars in the past.

In 2014, the 2001 MVP boasted a slash line of .284/.324/.340 with one home run, 22 runs batted in and 15 stolen bases. While his power numbers were down slightly from 2013, his batting average and on-base percentage jumped by 22 and 27 points, respectively.

According to Baseball-Reference, Ichiro also had a 1.4 WAR, which isn’t great but impressive nonetheless for a 41-year-old, and also up from 2013’s 0.8 WAR.

It’s easy to see why Ichiro would want to prolong his MLB career for at least another season. Although his defense has undoubtedly suffered as he continues playing, the Japanese star remains a solid hitter in the right circumstances.

Ace of MLB Stats unearthed one of the most telling statistics when it comes to describing Ichiro’s offense:

Ichiro is a bit like Paul Pierce in that he’ll never really become a terrible player in his advancing age like you see happen to other stars. His talents will wane, but he’ll always contribute to his team in some meaningful way.

By now, the Marlins know what to expect from Ichiro. As long as the surefire Hall of Famer isn’t tasked with being an everyday outfielder and used near the top of the order, he should be a solid addition for the 2015 season.

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Jose Abreu’s Rookie of the Year Candidacy Should Not Spark Rules Debate

This country is an interesting piece of real estate, especially around this time of year, when elections are held and democracy plays out at its finest.

You get to hear all sorts of debate and argument. And if you listen closely enough, you can find politicians manhandling certain points of contention in ways that fit their argument on one day, and on another, twisting the same point to fit a different argument. 

The baseball world is no different. Some writers, analysts and people employed in Major League Baseball use the same sticking points to fit more than one argument, even when they directly conflict with each other. This is certainly the case when it comes to changing the rules for awarding each league’s Rookie of the Year Award.

The 2014 edition is set to be announced Monday, and the American League winner is an easy call. It will be Chicago White Sox outfielder Jose Abreu, who is 27 years old and played eight seasons in Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top league.

This again will spark debate about whether players like Abreu, those of advanced age and more experience than rookies coming from this country’s minor league system, should be taking home the hardware.

Unfortunately, a decent amount of fans, media members and people in the game feel the same way. What is also unfortunate is none of them have an idea how to tweak the current rules, which simply call a rookie exactly what he is: a player playing his first season in Major League Baseball, assuming he has not exceeded the innings pitched or at-bat rules during past call-ups.

The main argument against players like Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka, who would likely be a candidate this year had he not gotten injured, as well as Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki and Hideo Nomo before them, is that the players are either too old (Matsui was 29 when he finished second in the AL race in 2003) or have too much experience in professional leagues outside of the United States (Ichiro played nine seasons in Japan before winning the AL award and MVP in 2001).

Somehow, the critics say, this is clearly an unfair advantage.

They say the experience and age provides an uneven playing field. They say that those other leagues, particularly the top Japanese league, are so much better than Major League Baseball’s Pacific Coast League or International League, the Triple-A leagues in this country, that it would be insulting to equate them to our minor leagues.

Then again, those leagues are far too inferior to the majors to consider what a player might have accomplished overseas. After all, are we convinced that Matsui will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, or Hall-worthy at all?

His numbers, in Japan and the big leagues combined, make him an easy inductee. But he probably won’t be such a tomahawk dunk when he is eligible in 2017. The argument there: The Japanese numbers can’t hold nearly the same weight as anything he did in the major leagues because that league is nowhere near as good as Major League Baseball.

So there we are. A double standard. The league is either good enough, or it is not. You can’t play both sides depending on the argument.

“It’s unfair to our kid — or any kid in any organization who’s coming out of our minor-league system in this country,” then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark in 2003 when Matsui was up for the award. “When you talk about players like Ichiro and Matsui, you’re talking about guys who are much more farther along in their experience and development than our kids over here. It takes these kids three, four, five years to catch up with the guys from Japan, from a standpoint of experience and development.”

But few scouts believed they were seeing a star when evaluating Abreu, one of Cuba’s greatest hitters ever, before the White Sox signed him for six years and $68 million and led the AL in slugging percentage (.581) and OPS-plus (169) to go with 36 homers and 107 RBI.

“He’s turning 27 years old and has a career full of 85 to 87 mile an hour fastballs,” one international scout told Ben Badler of Baseball America. “He’s not an athlete and he doesn’t have bat speed. You’re asking a 27-year-old non-athlete to go to the big leagues and make an adjustment. Against 97 (mph), this guy has no chance. All of us who know him are all saying the same thing.”

Yet, there will be those who say Abreu should not be eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award because of his experience and/or competition level in relation to the minor leagues here. Nevermind the cultural and language barriers players like Abreu, Tanaka and others have faced, which can be far more difficult to navigate for some players than competing in the majors.

For reasons that make total sense, which is to say they are financial, major league teams do not scout players from Asian countries as teens unless one of them happens to come to America for a showcase or tournament. But no scout is flying halfway around the planet to look at an 18-year-old pitcher from Japan or Korea.

Instead, they leave the scouting and development up to the leagues in those countries. They use them as a farm system without ever having to pay for the player, unlike what teams do in the Dominican Republic, where baseball academies groom players before they’d be eligible to vote in this country. Then, if an Asian player shows enough potential to succeed at the highest levels of the sport, major league teams become interested.

Now, if teams truly thought those Asian leagues were that much better than the Pacific Coast League or International League, they’d be luring far more players to this side of the world at earlier ages. If those leagues were as good as some people want us to believe, people who want the Rookie of the Year rules altered, Japanese players would be as prevalent on major league rosters as Dominican players.

At age 20, Tanaka posted a 2.33 ERA in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. Do major league scouts truly believe he could have done something similar in the big leagues at that age? Probably not, and that is why they allowed Tanaka to pitch four more years in his home country before enticing his Japanese team to put him up for auction.

Also, if teams didn’t know of Tanaka before his World Baseball Classic experience, then it shows that MLB does not think enough of the Japanese league to scout it regularly.

If people care enough to change the rules, they should care enough to figure out how to make MLB’s minor league system better. Do teams really need three levels of A-ball and a short-season league? No, probably not, considering all the fringe players used to fill out rosters, guys with no chance of making it the higher levels.

For all the displeasure about the current rules for the award, which the Baseball Writers’ Association of America votes on, no one has come up with alternatives.

Do they want all international players excluded from consideration? That can’t happen because it takes away Canadian, Dominican, Mexican, Venezuelan and all other players not from the U.S. who might spend significant time in the minors.

Do they want to exclude players with professional experience in other countries? That doesn’t make sense since players who are in the minor leagues in America are professionals.

Do they want players who have played in certain leagues across the country excluded, or for a certain number of years? Again, nonsensical since no one thinks any other league can even sniff the talent in the majors, no matter how long a player competes in it. And that belief is accurate.

The first rule of griping about a perceived problem is having a logical solution. This argument has none.

Abreu is going to win this award, and he deserves it. And any other player who comes from any country or league that is not the majors should be eligible to win it, regardless of age or experience level.

By definition, they are rookies. They earn their numbers on the field, and they should be able to earn the accolades that come with them, now and in the indefinite future.


Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News, and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki Passes George Sisler on All-Time Hits List

While another member of the New York Yankees has received plenty of attention for his ascension on MLB‘s all-time hits list, Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is quietly embarking on his own journey to surpass some of the legends of the game.

With a single in Saturday’s contest against the Cleveland Indians, Suzuki passed Hall of Famer George Sisler for 48th place on the hits list, recording No. 2,811 of his career. After adding a double in Sunday’s series finale, Suzuki stands at 2,812, 27 shy of Charlie Gehringer in 47th place.

Now limited to a part-time role, the 40-year-old former superstar faces an uphill battle to join the vaunted 3,000-hits club, which has just 28 members.

However, whether or not he reaches the milestone, Suzuki has already cemented his place in the Hall of Fame, as he didn’t begin his MLB career until the age of 27, when he memorably took home AL Rookie of the Year and MVP honors for the 116-win Seattle Mariners.

Had he not spent the first nine years (1992-2000) of his career with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan, Suzuki would have long ago passed 3,000 hits and might even be preparing to make a run at 4,000.

In fact, had he joined MLB when first ready, Suzuki might already have 4,000 career hits. Though he wouldn’t have reached the highest level at age 18 as he did in Japan, Suzuki would have benefited from MLB’s longer season of 162 games, compared to just 144 in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Playing in the Japan Pacific League, Suzuki recorded just 36 hits between his first two years, before bursting onto the scene with a 210-hit campaign in 1994, a season he started at the age of 20. Given that the 1994 season—in which he posted a .385/.445/.549 slash line—stands as one of Suzuki’s best in Japan, he may well have already been good enough to thrive in Major League Baseball.

There’s a line of thinking that Suzuki never could have registered 1,278 hits (his career total in NPB) through his age-26 season in the United States. However, his career arc in Japan hints otherwise, as Suzuki was quite clearly a superstar by the age of 20.

While we’ll never know what could have been, Suzuki’s total of 4,090 hits between NPB and MLB is one of the more impressive accomplishments in recent baseball history.


All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless specifically noted otherwise.

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MLB Winter Meetings 2013: Analyzing All the Action, Hot Rumors of Day 2

Day two of the winter meeting got off to a bang as the rumored three-team deal between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels came together rather quickly and was a reality by early afternoon.

With one more day before the focus turns to the Rule 5 draft on Thursday, expect at least a few more big free agent signings and/or trades to happen over the next 24-30 hours or so.

Here’s all the latest from the rumor mill.  

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Ichiro Suzuki Overshadows Duel of Japanese Pitchers in Yankees’ Walk-off 4-3 Win

An all-Japanese pitching battle headlined the game between the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees on Tuesday night, as Yu Darvish and Hiroki Kuroda took to the mound for their respective teams.

However, the spotlight ended up being stolen by the best Japanese player of all time—Ichiro Suzuki.

After belting just his second career walk-off home run, Ichiro’s blast was the sixth longball of the night as the Yanks walked off with a 4-3 victory over Darvish and the Rangers.



Ichiro capped off a night that was dominated by Japanese players with the blast, and the country of Japan had to be watching.



The night was supposed to belong to either Darvish or Kuroda, as both pitchers are having quite a season.

Darvish leads the MLB with 143 strikeouts and is trying to become the first pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts in a season since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did it in 2002 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He also has posted a 7-3 record, accompanied by his 2.95 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.

Kuroda, on the other hand, is 7-5 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP this year. He is having the best season of his career at 38 years old, and he has been crucial to the Yankees’ success.

The two battled it out for most of the night, as Darvish went 5.1 innings and Kuroda went 6.2. Both pitchers gave up three runs, although one was unearned for Kuroda.

One of the early stories in the night was that Darvish gave up three home runs for the first time in his MLB career, surrendering one each to Travis Hafner, Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix.



However, as the game headed to the ninth inning, closer Marino Rivera came into a game tied at three and held the Rangers scoreless.

The Yanks would have one more chance to win the game before extra innings, but Gardner wasted Chris Stewart’s lead off walk with a fielder’s choice and then by getting caught stealing second.

Ichiro was left up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when he crushed a 1-2 pitch to right-centerfield to win the game.

It was the perfect ending to a game that started and ended with Japanese-born players in the headlines.

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New York Yankees 2013: 197 Hits X 2 Seasons = 3,000 Hits for Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki is the greatest Japanese baseball player to ever play in the United States.

Before we get into this, let’s take a brief look at some of the storylines for the New York Yankees going into 2013.

Year by year, sports writers have written the Yankees off but somehow they keep making the playoffs. 

This season due to age, injuries and an older rotation, it’s easier than ever to write the Yankees off going into 2013.  

Beloved pitcher Mariano Rivera—probably the greatest player ever at his position—is in the sunset of his career and will retire at season’s end.

This will inevitably be followed by the retirement of an even more iconic Yankee legend—Derek Jeter.  

However, as is perpetually the case with most storied franchises in American sports, there are still plenty of reasons to tune into the Yankees this year.  

One of the primary ones is the chance to watch Ichiro play the next two years of his career in the media frenzy that is New York City.  

The 39-year-old has a .322 lifetime batting average, 308 doubles, 80 triples, 452 stolen bases and 2,606 hits in only 8,085 career at-bats.  He was also an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 10 consecutive seasons (2001-10), won three Silver Sluggers and was both the Rookie of the Year and American League Most Valuable Player in his rookie season.

Not only that, but he’s made the transition to playing in the Bronx look effortless and seems to relish the fact that he plays in such a media-hungry environment.

But what’s most impressive of all of Ichiro’s accomplishments in his 12-year major league career is the fact that he will most likely accomplish something in 14 years that have taken most players in baseball a quarter of a century of play to achieve.

So when you tune into the Yankees this season, remember that not only are you watching history in the making, but you are also witnessing the greatest Japanese baseball player ever walk into the record books faster than anyone who has ever played the game. 

Special Thanks: I appreciate the insight and dedicate this article to my friend Bryan Valvana who for years has been a die hard Yankee fan that won’t shut up!

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MLB Players Whose Life Stories Would Make Must-See Movies

A number of players in the big leagues can wow fans with their performances on the field, but some of them also have incredibly interesting backstories about their road to the major leagues.

Many players have had to deal with personal issues or injuries and have persevered to reach the MLB. Movies have been made about players like this in the past, such as The Rookie, which was based on Jim Morris’ career.

That film was seen by a number of people and made over $75 million (h/t IMDB). Baseball fans would certainly be interested in other films like this.

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2013 New York Yankees: 3 Things to Like

The New York Yankees off-season has been a quiet one due to ownership implementing a new frugal stance.

Instead of story-lines about signing the biggest free agents, Yankee fans were relegated to watching the realities of missing the 2013 postseason grow by the day.

So as a result, fans, the media, and bloggers alike have been provided with plenty of things to grumble about.

And for the first time in almost two decades, the paved regular-season road to October that the Yankees build during the off-season is no longer a smooth ride.

But in reality, not all hope is lost yet; and here are three reasons why.

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