Let's appreciate how long Ichiro has been playing professional baseball
Update: On May 3rd, the Mariners announced that Ichiro would be transitioning to a new role in the organization -- Special Assistant to the Chairman -- and would no longer be on the active roster this season.
With that in mind, there is never a wrong time to take a moment to appreciate the absurdly amazing career that Ichiro has put together, regardless of how much longer it continues.
One of the most basic, yet still unbelievable realities of Ichiro's MLB career is that it came after a near-decade of being the best player in Japan. Ichiro first debuted with the Orix BlueWave in 1992 as an 18-year-old. He spent the bulk of his first two seasons in the Japanese Minor Leagues, but immediately became a superstar in his first full season in 1994, winning the first of three consecutive MVPs.
Consider this: In Ichiro's nine seasons in Japan, he played in 951 games and posted a .943 OPS. So far in his MLB career,
Furthermore, Ichiro played those 951 games as one of the best players in NPB all before turning 27.
Ichiro's otherworldly hitting ability translated immediately upon arrival in MLB, becoming only the second player in history to win the MVP as a rookie. When Ichiro debuted with the Mariners on April 2, 2001, he became the 15,417th player in MLB history. Since then, 3,797 players have debuted, with one of the most recent being Brewers catching prospect
Seventeen years and 3,087 Major League hits later, Ichiro is a living legend. There is very little left for him to accomplish, other than to just keep playing which is clearly an accomplishment he views as imperative.
Eventually, though, Ichiro will be enshrined in Cooperstown alongside the greatest to every play the game. He will join, among many others, Vladimir Guerrero, who will be presented his plaque this summer. Now, remember, Ichiro made his professional debut in 1992. Over the span of Ichiro's 27-year professional baseball career, Guerrero signed with the Expos as an 18-year-old (March 1, 1993), made his Major League debut (Sept. 19, 1996), hit his 400th career home run (Aug. 10, 2009), played his final Major League game (Sept. 28, 2011), debuted on the Hall of Fame ballot but did not get elected (Jan. 18, 2017), and earned Hall of Fame election (Jan. 24, 2018).
And here's Ichiro, still putting on a big league uniform every day. Ichiro forever.