- Aug 20, 2018
Seattle Times: Ichiro announces his retirement after Mariners’ final game in JapanA couple of days before his retirement, the arm was still there
It was a great privilege to see his debut season live in Seattle back in 2001. I would never guessed that he would have been able to perform at an MLB level for 18 years.
Posnanski wrote an interesting post back in 2010 comparing Ichiro and Nolan Ryan. The whole thing is worth reading, but this is worth quoting:
IchiroNo pitcher struck out more batters. But then you add in the walks. You throw in his remarkable skill at throwing wild pitches — his 277 is 50 more than second-place Phil Niekro. You throw in his preposterous inability to prevent runners from stealing bases — Ryan’s 757 stolen bases allowed are BY FAR the most allowed; that’s 200-plus more than Greg Maddux, who is second on the list. You throw in his general struggles with fielding his position. No good pitcher in baseball history did the big things better; but perhaps no good pitcher in baseball history did the little things worse. And that is how a guy most would call the most unhittable and greatest strikeout pitcher in baseball history ends up with a bland 112 ERA+ and ends up over an astonishingly long career allowing more runs than any pitcher in history except Niekro.
Because of all this it’s hard to really define Ryan as a pitcher. He’s the most extraordinary pitcher who ever lived, I think. But I also think he’s not especially close to the best.
Still, as we try to look honestly at his career, we are left with two questions and two seemingly conflicting answers:
1. Is Ichiro Suzuki one of the greatest hitters in baseball history? Absolutely.
2. Is Ichiro Suzuki one of the greatest offensive forces in baseball history? No, probably not.