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Ichiro Suzuki wants to play “many” more seasons after 2014

Mar 2, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees' Suzuki runs and watches the ball after he hit a walk-off home run to beat the Texas Rangers in their MLB American League game in New York

Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki may be 40 years old but he wants to play baseball for a while longer. Via ESPN’s Wallace Matthews:

“Retirement from baseball is something I haven’t even thought about,” he said.

Asked how many more seasons he thought he could play, Ichiro laughed. “Not just a few,” he said. “Many. For me, I feel there’s no reason for me to retire right now.”

Ichiro’s production started slipping after the 2010 season. Over the past three seasons, he has hit .273 with a .305 on-base percentage compared to .331/.376 between 2001-10. Additionally, he finished each of the past two seasons with fewer than 30 steals, the only such occurrences in his career.

While Baseball Reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement has valued Ichiro somewhere between replacement level (0.0) and average (2.0) since the start of 2011, Ichiro might have trouble finding work since light-hitting outfielders aren’t exactly tough to come by.

  1. Carl Hancock - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    It’s obvious he wants to get to the 3,000 hit mark. It’s only going to take him 2 more seasons of playing at the same level he has been for the past few seasons so I think it’s a goal he will achieve. After that, his opinion on retiring will probably change. He should get within one more season of reaching 3,000 hits after this season. Even if this year is a down year and even if the year he hits 3,000 is a down year. Someone will give him that shot. After he achieves 3,000 however… that’s a different story.

    • clydeserra - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      if the Mariners are going nowhere next year…

      • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        Why not this year? they ain’t going anywhere this year either

      • Carl Hancock - Mar 2, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        If he can have a bounce back year and at least match the numbers he put up in 2012, that would put him within easy reach of 3,000 hits and I could see the Mariners bringing him back simply so he could achieve it in Seattle. If he can match what he did in 2012 that would mean he’d only need 80 hits to reach 3,000. There’s no reason he couldn’t achieve that even in a part time capacity.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:28 PM

        I appreciate your dedication to the game Carl but he isn’t gonna be much ever again. Only in reruns, you know like all in the family? Or like old gassers life, only in reruns, he is finished

      • Kevin S. - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:59 PM

        What makes you think Ichiro is an every day player for the Yankees this year?

        As for his desire to play many more years, sure he could do it. If he’s willing to go the Rickey Henderson route and accept what he is in his diminished state, I’m sure he could help teams as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement sort for a number of years. If he plans on starting for many more years, he’s got another thought coming.

      • billybawl - Mar 2, 2014 at 7:32 PM

        The last time the M’s brought back an aging future HOFer for a farewell tour, it didn’t end so well.

        The comparison to Henderson is interesting. Henderson was already tailing off by age 39, but still led the league in walks (and in SBs with 66). But Rickey needed 3 more years to get 257 hits. Ichiro needs 258 to reach 3000. Henderson got his ABs because his OBP stayed in the .360s during his early 40s. Ichiro hasn’t been at that level since he was 36, in 2010. In fact, his OBP has been below .300 for two years. So if Ichiro is going to get the ABs that would let him reach 3000 hits, he’s going to need a shockingly good year in 2014. I’d love to see it, but….

        He should be a first ballot HOFer regardless of 3000 hits.

  2. hojo20 - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    It’s over. I’d prefer to see Ichiro retire than become a .200 pinch hitter.

  3. raysfan1 - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    I’m sure he wants another 258 hits. However, I don’t see it happening. He will be a role player only if he stays here.

    • Carl Hancock - Mar 2, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      258 hits is only 2 more seasons of 129 hits. Last season was his worst year and he still had almost 140 hits. 2012 was considered a bad year for him also yet he still had 178 combined hits between Seattle and New York.

      I’d say considering he’s just 1 year removed from having 178 hits in a season, writing the guy off from having a chance of getting 258 more hits over the course of the remainder of his career is selling him way short.

      He’s definitely got a shot. Even if he’s reduced to a part time utility player.

      This year will of course be crucial to see how it plays out, but if he inches towards 3,000 you can guarantee someone, quite possibly even the Mariners, will give him a chance to achieve that milestone.

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he has a bounce back year. If he can hit 175-180 hits this season, which would be in line with what he did in 2011 and 2012, then he most definitely will achieve the 258 hits necessary to reach 3,000.

      What impresses me about Ichiro is his numbers got better after he came to MLB from NPB. A lot of that has to do with hitting his prime. But it also tells me that the numbers he had in NPB prior to coming to MLB would likely have been in line with what he could have achieved had he played his entire career in the U.S.

      And had he played his entire career in MLB then we could very well be counting down to him breaking Pete Rose hits record… it’s a shame that won’t be the case. It would finally make the Pete Rose debate moot if someone were to surpass him in hits and as far as our generation goes a player like Ichiro had the best chance to do so. Which makes it a shame that he played the first part of his career in Japan which eliminated any chance of it happening.

      Ichiro was never Albert Pujols, or Miguel Cabrera, or Mike Trout. But he was and is an artist with the bat in the same vein as Tony Gwynn. He also had a cannon of an arm.

      • paul621 - Mar 2, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        When you say “the Pete Rose debate,” I assume you mean the Hall of Fame debate. If so, I have no idea how that would have been “moot.” Keeping #2 on the hits list out of the Hall isn’t much different than keeping #1 out–especially when Rose still would have held the record for quite some time. His accomplishments shouldn’t be diminished by someone else doing a bit better.

      • raysfan1 - Mar 2, 2014 at 8:12 PM

        Ichiro Suzuki has had a great career, and I mean him no disrespect. However, I’m guessing, if he’s with the Yankees all season and barring significant injury to a starter, that he gets around 200ABs this year. Assuming a .275 avg, that’s 55 hits. He could get more if the team platoons him or of course one of the three starters gets hurts and is out for an extended period.

        I won’t be disappointed if I’m proven wrong, but I really don’t see him closing in on 3000 as rapidly as you do. He’s too light a hitter to get much time as a DH, and the Yankees we set in the OF.

    • jared143 - Mar 4, 2014 at 6:10 AM

      Mariners will probably sign him to a 1-year deal and get his 3,000 hits as a Mariners and join the hall of fame as a Mariners.

      3000 + 1278 = 4278

      can’t wait for him to pass Pete Rose

      • raysfan1 - Mar 4, 2014 at 8:51 AM

        He will go to the HoF as a Mariner regardless. A one year deal with the Mariners won’t get it done to get to 3K MLB hits. He’s 258 shy now, and will still need around 200 in all likelihood when he becomes a FA after this season. Also, as great as Ichiro is, what he did in NPB is irrelevant to his MLB records except in a hypothetical “what if” sort of way. Thus, combining his hits there with his hits here to try to erase Pete Rose’s record simply isn’t valid.

  4. genericcommenter - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    He hasn’t been good in a long time, yet there were people here talking about how much of a “great on-base guy” he was when he had a sub- .300 OBP.

    He probably needs at least 2 more seasons after this one to get 3000.

    • Carl Hancock - Mar 2, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      His worst season ever was last year and he had 136 hits. If he duplicated his performance last year over the next 2 years he’s still exceed 3,000 hits. He had 178 hits as recently as 2012. If he duplicates that performance, which was his 2nd worst year, that would put him 80 hits shy of 3,000. He could certainly achieve 3,000 hits within the next 2 seasons. Even if he does have sub-par seasons. He only needs 129 hits this year and next year to reach 3,000. He’s never hit fewer than 136 in a season. I’d say it’s very achievable.

      If he has a “bounce back” season and reaches 170-180 hits, which is what he did in 2011 and 2012, then he’d only need 80 or fewer hits the following year to reach 3,000. I definitely think more than a few commenters on here are selling him short. Barring injury, I have no doubts that he’ll achieve 3,000 hits before he retires.

      • cohnjusack - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        His worst season ever was last year. And, entering age 40, it’s probable that this season will be his worst ever.

        Simply put, players don’t “bounce back” at 40. Currently, he is a corner outfielder who put up a 75 OPS+ entering his age 40 season. I can’t see how one could rationally assume any form of improvement at this juncture.

        Here are the entire list of player who had160+ hits in their age 40 season
        1. Sam Rice — 207 (105 OPS+ previous 3 years)
        2. Ty Cobb — 175 (143 OPS+ previous 3 yeras)
        3. Dave Winfield — 169 (134 OPS+ previous 3 years)
        4. Paul Molitor — 164 (117 OPS+ previous 3 years)

        That’s it. Two players dating back the Presidency of Coolidge and Roosevelt + two of the best “old” players in recent memory.

        So I’ll repeat: 180 for a corner outfielder who hasn’t put up a league average OPS is more than 3 years entering his age 40 season almost certainly will not come close to happening

  5. Carl Hancock - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    It’s also worth noting than when Ichiro does achieve 3,000 hits he will have 4,278 hits combined with his NPB numbers. Which is more than what Pete Rose had. While that obviously will not give him the recognition of having the most hits in the history of baseball, it’s nothing to sneeze at and he’ll ride those numbers into the Hall of Fame where it wouldn’t surprise me if his plaque mentions this fact with the caveat that it includes the 1,278 hits he had playing in Japan. Ichiro didn’t begin playing in the Major Leagues until he was 27. He only had one season in Japan where he had at least 200 hits. He had 200+ hits in every one of his first 10 seasons in the Major Leagues. That’s pretty incredible. It’s a shame he played for the Mariners during his prime because I think he would be much more appreciated by fans had he played for a team such as the Yankees, Red Sox or Cardinals during those years. To put those 10 years of 200+ hits in perspective! Tony Gwynn only had 5 200+ seasons during his 20 year career. Ichiro’s only been in the Majors 13 years.

  6. karlkolchak - Mar 2, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Wonder if he’ll go back and play in Japan when his MLB prospect run out.

  7. capsboy - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Ichiro’s the man. That is all.

  8. sportsfan18 - Mar 2, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    He isn’t going to get enough at bats, beginning this season.let alone next yr or the year after to make it to 3,000 hits…

    All teams, at some point, quit giving at bats away…

    Seattle, if they pick him back up to be nice to him would give him the most, but I don’t see him performing well enough in the at bats he gets to warrant getting more.

    He’s a great player, a HOF player, but FATHER TIME is undefeated…

  9. sawxalicious - Mar 3, 2014 at 1:14 AM

    If Ichiro could learn to take some pitches and get some walks, he could have an OBP worthy of starting, thus, get more plate appearances and more chances for hits, This is very unlikely to happen, as Ichiro has appeared to be allergic to the free pass throughout his career. Great career, but the end is nigh.

    • jared143 - Mar 4, 2014 at 6:04 AM

      He never had the time to take a walk since he’s been getting hits all the time.

      A nice Ichiro quote: “Fans don’t come to see me to take a walk. They come see me to get a hit”

      As other’s said, he will have limited at-bats so if I were him, I will try to use those at-bats to get some hits.

  10. henryd3rd - Mar 3, 2014 at 5:56 AM

    “Father Time” is still undefeated!

  11. mudhead123 - Mar 3, 2014 at 6:28 AM

    I’ve never heard that saying before Henry! Do you have anymore?

  12. jared143 - Mar 4, 2014 at 6:03 AM

    You retire when you can’t hit. Ichiro still can hit, but not the pace he used to. When you got 262 hits in a season, you just don’t forget how to hit.

    I think Ichiro wants to get 3,000 hits..and you know what that will mean. 3000 + 1278 = 4278.

    Yes he will probably need just 2 more years to get to 3000. After this year, if Ichiro is close to 3,000 hits, the Mariners will probably sign him a 1-year deal and get his 3,000 hits as a Mariners and join the hall of fame as a Mariner.

    I just hope one of the outfield gets injured so Ichiro can have more playing time.

    Sorry guys but I’m a big Ichiro fan.

  13. stackers1 - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    He’s got a shot at 3000 hits. It’s not like he’s Johnny Damon.

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