Friday, July 10, 2009

The Best Player of This Decade

As we head toward the All Star break, I got to thinking about some of the greatest players this last decade. Sure, that thought matters about as much as what Ocho Cinco is tweeting right now-who cares. But you have to give some players the benefit of doubt. Right now, Albert Pujols is probably the best hitter not linked to steroids, but to some, even he remains questionable.

Other than Derek Jeter, the best overall player in this last decade who you just cannot imagine being linked to PED's-Ichiro Suzuki.

One note, I am not from Seattle. I am not a Mariners' fan. And I am not Asian.

This past decade, Ichiro's play on the field has been about as consistent as a Cincinnati Bengals' player ending up behind bars.

On and off the field, Ichiro is all business. It's rare to see a player so focused 100% of the time. At the plate, he has incredible bat speed and one of the best eyes in the batter's box. Other than Vladimir Guerrero, he's perhaps the only current player who can hit any ball thrown his way. When he swings at the ball, he's nearly halfway down the first base line, making any ground ball a close play at first, or no play at all.

In the outfield, Ichiro is just as lethal. His career (9+ seasons) fielding percentage is .993. He has 79 assists while committing a total of 18 errors!

Let's compare that to Torii Hunter.
In 13 season's, Hunter has 78 assists, a .992 fielding percentage and 28 errors.
Hunter has also won a Gold Glove ever year since 2001.

Ichiro's nearly impossible to strikeout. In 5,801 career at bats, he has only struck out 555 times. That's less than 10% of the time. Almost equal to the country's unemployment rate.

Since 2001, Ichiro's inaugural season with MLB, he has 1,928 hits. In that time frame, Derek Jeter is next with 1,629.

The stats speak for themselves:

Ichiro is a career .332 hitter.

Not only is the guy reliable, he's also durable, playing in at least 157 games every year.

He's been selected to the All Star Game every year. He was the MVP of the All Star Game in 2007.

He's won a Gold Glove every year.

In 2001, his first season in MLB, are you ready for this?-
Of course he was an All Star and won a Gold Glove
Rookie of the Year
Silver Slugger-Led the AL in batting average at .350
Led the league in stolen bases with 56
Led the league in hits with 242
And was the also the MVP

In 2004, he led the AL in batting average at .372! Nomar Garciaparra also hit .372 in 2000. Other than that, the last player to hit above .372 in the American
League was George Brett hitting .390 in 1980.

In the National League:
2000-Todd Helton-.372
1999-Larry Walker-.379
1997-Tony Gwynn-.372
1994-Tony Gwynn-.394

Yeah, Tony Gwynn was that great!

In 8 full seasons, Ichiro's led the AL in hits 5 times. In 2004, Ichiro broke the all time single season record with 262 hits!, breaking Greorge Sisler's mark of 257 set in 1920.
The most hits Pete Rose had in a single season was 230 in 1973.
Pete Rose played 24 seasons in finished with the all time hit record of 4,256.

After 8 complete seasons in MLB, Ichiro had 1,805 hits. Rose played for 24 seasons. So lets times Ichiro's hits after 8 years by 3 (which would be 24 seasons, I know you see where I'm coming, but I'm just trying to make this as blunt as possible) Ichiro would have 5,415 career hits!

As a lead off hitter!, Ichiro has been intentionally walked 138 times He led the AL in intentional walks with 27 in 2002 and 19 in 2004. His 162 game average for intentional walks is 16. To put that in perspective, Albert Pujols's 162 game average for intentional passes is 23.

He has 333 career stolen bases, been caught stealing 75 times.

2001, his only postseason appearance, all Ichiro did was bat .421.

How has this guy stayed in Seattle this long?! Could you imagine the hype for this guy if he ever went to Boston or New York?

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