20 incredible facts about Ichiro's career

March 21st, 2019

's remarkable Major League career is over after an emotional farewell in Tokyo, and his career, somewhat incredibly, ended the same way it began.

Now is as good a time as ever to look back on the many things he has accomplished since beginning his MLB career with Seattle in 2001. Here are some notable facts and figures:

• Ichiro's 3,089 hits in the Majors rank 22nd all-time, and his career .311 batting average ranks 13th highest among the 32 players in the 3,000-hit club. Because he was never a significant power hitter -- with just 117 homers, or .01 dinger per at-bat -- his .402 slugging percentage is the lowest among that elite group. Ichiro reached 3,000 hits in 10,333 plate appearances and 2,452 games, the 13th and 14th quickest to do so for each, respectively.

• Including his 1,278 hits over nine seasons in the Japan Pacific League, before he came to the Majors, Ichiro has 4,367 hits, 111 more than Pete Rose.

• Ichiro took the Majors by storm in historic fashion when he arrived in 2001. In addition to becoming the first Japanese position player in MLB history, Ichiro went on to lead the Majors in hits (242) and stolen bases (56) as the primary leadoff hitter for a Seattle club that set the MLB record with 116 wins.

• Ichiro won the American League batting title, the AL Rookie of the Year Award and the AL MVP Award in 2001, and he remains the only player in MLB history to win all three in his first season. (Fred Lynn is the only other player to win the Rookie of the Year Award and the MVP Award in the same season, doing so with the Red Sox in 1975.)

• Since both leagues officially adopted a 162-game schedule in 1962, Ichiro has compiled the top two single-season hit totals (262 in 2004 and 242 in '01), three of the top six and five of the top 18. For his efforts in '04, he surpassed Hall of Famer George Sisler's 257 hits for the most in a season, though Sisler played in just 154 games when he set his high mark in '20.

• Ichiro went on a hit streak of 20 or more games seven times in his career. According to Elias, only Rose and Ty Cobb (eight apiece) had more streaks of such length since 1900, while Sisler also had seven.

• Only once in his MLB career did Ichiro finish a game with his career batting average below .300. That came when he took an 0-for-4 in his second game as a rookie, making him 2-for-9 (.222) overall. He promptly went 2-for-4 in the next game and never looked back.

• Ichiro reached the 200-hit plateau 10 times, doing so in his first 10 seasons, when he averaged 224 per year. He is tied with Rose for the most 200-hit campaigns, although Rose did not produce his in consecutive years.

• Ichiro collected his 3,000th hit at Coors Field on Aug. 7, 2016, when he joined Paul Molitor as the only players to reach that milestone with a triple.

• Because of his long and successful career in Japan, Ichiro didn't debut in the Majors until he was 27. No other member of the 3,000-hit club started his career so late. Previously, the record had been held by Wade Boggs, who had not yet turned 24 when he played his first game in 1982.

• Ichiro's 3,089 hits from age 27 onward is the second most in MLB history, behind only Rose's 3,357. The next-highest total for a player in the Integration Era (since 1947) is 2,635 hits by Stan Musial.

• Ichiro was 42 years, nine months and 16 days old when he got to 3,000, making him the second-oldest player to reach that mark behind Cap Anson, who played his entire career in the 19th Century.

• Ichiro was remarkably consistent. Entering his final two games at a neutral site in Tokyo, he batted .312 at home and .310 on the road, and at least .295 in each month.

• Ichiro actually hit better against left-handed pitchers (.329) than righties (.304). That batting average off southpaws is the highest on record for a lefty batter (split data is complete going back to 1974). Since '74, only four right-handed batters with at least 1,500 at-bats against lefties hit for a higher average than Ichiro: Kirby Puckett, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Moises Alou.

• Ichiro had hits against every Major League team, but his most (320) came against the A's. He also got more hits at Oakland (168) than at any other ballpark that he never called home.

• Ichiro was arguably the greatest leadoff hitter of his era, collecting 2,529 of his hits from the top spot, which ranked behind only Rickey Henderson (3,020) and Rose (2,924). However, compared to those two, Ichiro compiled a much higher batting average from the No. 1 hole, with a .323 clip, compared to Rose's .308 and Henderson's .280.

• Ichiro was a 10-time All-Star, and no Midsummer Classic moment for the speedy outfielder was more iconic than when he became the first -- and to this date, only -- player to hit an inside-the-park homer in the showcase when he did it in 2007 in San Francisco. He was named the MVP of that All-Star Game.

• Ichiro was a tremendous threat on the bases as well, stealing 509 in his career. He is one of seven players to collect at least 500 steals to go along with 3,000 hits, and the first since Henderson. While Ichiro stole just once over his final two seasons, he reached double digits every year through age 42 and joins Henderson as the only player since 1920 to steal at least 10 bases three times in his 40s.

• Of the 20 players with at least 500 steals since 1950, Suzuki's 81.3-percent success rate is fourth, ahead of Henderson and trailing only Tim Raines, Willie Wilson and Davey Lopes.

• Ichiro won a Gold Glove Award in each of his first 10 seasons, joining Hall of Fame Reds catcher Johnny Bench as the only players to do so. His 10 Gold Gloves rank tied for third most among outfielders (with Ken Griffey Jr., Andruw Jones and Al Kaline), and no outfielder has won more than 12 (Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays).