Ichiro-The Most Underappreciated Baseball Player Today

There was a great article in the Washington Post sports section the other week by columnist Norman Chad regarding Ichiro. Basically, Chad writes, Ichiro Suzuki is perhaps the most underappreciated baseball player today. And Chad’s column also brings up a point about all of us old timers (I think I’m older than most of you readers out there) enjoying and appreciating things a lot more as one gets older. And to see Ichiro's high level of talent and consistency is to be appreciated as the baseball player, himself, is getting on in years.

Excerpts from the column:

“In all 10 of his seasons with the Seattle Mariners since coming to Major League Baseball from Japan at age 27, Ichiro has batted over .300 and accumulated at least 200 hits.

As we reach midseason here in 2011, Ichiro, now 37, is batting only .271 and is on pace for a 181-hit season.

Ichiro also has won 10 straight Gold Gloves — with never more than five errors in a season — but in 2011 he has been subpar at times defensively and already has committed three errors.

The thing is, Ichiro Suzuki might be the most underappreciated great player of his generation. Part of this is he’s been stuck on a losing team most of his career. Part of this is because he’s Japanese; on our field of dreams, we prefer homegrown athletic superstars. Part of this is he’s playing in the Pacific Northwest; many Americans couldn’t locate the Pacific Northwest on a U.S. map, and most Mariners games end about the time Carson Daly is interviewing some indie actress I’ve never heard of.

Just think about Ichiro’s 10-year MLB career again: 10 straight .300 seasons, 10-straight 200-hit campaigns, 10 straight Gold Gloves, 10-time All-Star. If he played in New York, there might be a Baby Ichiro candy bar in every mini-mart and sushi bars bearing his name on every corner.

If you include Ichiro’s Japanese major league numbers — where he won seven straight batting titles — the outfielder now has hit .300 in a remarkable 19 consecutive seasons....

...mired in a .149 slump over three weeks that dropped his season average to .248 — Ichiro was given a night off, ending his streak of 255 consecutive games played.
Ichiro took the benching in stride, and since then, went on an 11-game hitting streak — with eight multiple-hit games — to raise his average 23 points. Suddenly, those box scores are looking a lot better with my morning Metamucil, and Ichiro still might extend his .300-average and 200-hit streaks. So maybe 37 is the new 27.”

For those who don't know, a batting average in the .300's is elite level hitting. The guy is a pleasure to watch. The guy's a real baseball stud and should be more celebrated.
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