Ichiro is coming back! Let the hunt for No. 3,000 begin
Sitting in our chairs, waiting patiently for the first pitch of the Astros-Yankees AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night, we were not expecting to receive news that would bring the same amount of joy as the start of the postseason. And then the Marlins and their 41-year-old outfielder from Kasugai, Japan announced this:
The #Marlins are signing Ichiro Suzuki today for the 2016 season. Announcement will be today- Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) October 6, 2015
Which means: He's going for 3,000 hits!!!!!
Ichiro Suzuki finished the 2015 season 65 hits short of 3,000 MLB hits (though if you count his NPB hits, he passed 3,000 career hits a long, long time ago) and some thought this year would be his only with the Marlins and last in professional baseball. But our fears were unfounded. The hunt for 3,000 is very much on.
No. 3,000 is certainly no guarantee, but Ichiro's 91 hits in 2015 make 65 in 2016 seem very doable. So, while we start prepping our "Congrats on 3,000" cakes and put in our orders for 3,000 balloons, let's take a look at how we got here.
It began on April 2, 2001. After nine years in Japan, Ichiro was making his MLB debut with the Mariners. After coming up empty in his first three at-bats, he knocked a single to center field for his first MLB hit.
Four days later on April 6, Ichiro recorded his eighth hit and also his first MLB home run -- a 10th-inning game-winner:
In his 1,402nd game, Ichiro hit a standup double into the right-field corner for no. 2,000. Two fun facts about this one: 1) Ichiro recorded both his first and 2000th hits against the A's. 2) Only Al Simmons reached the bicentennial faster.
Ichiro's 2,722nd MLB hit came in the middle of Aug. 2013, his first full year with the Yankees. But it was his 4,000th hit in professional baseball -- making him one of three human beings ever to reach that total.
And on May 19 this season, Ichiro's 2,873rd hit tied Babe Ruth on the all-time list. Great company, regardless if, as Ichiro noted, "I'm just such a different type of player."
So, we know how Ichiro's first 2,935 hits have come. But the great thing about his 2016 quest for 3,000 is the other 65 could be anything. They could all be home runs! They could all be bunts! They could all come in games he pitches!
(Please, please be that last one.)