Player Profile: Ichiro
Ichiro is still one of the most popular athletes in the world, and for good reason. His agent once claimed of his celebrity, ”When you mail Ichiro something from the States, you only have to use that name on the address and he gets it [in Japan]. He’s that big.” Ichiro has had one of the most remarkable athletic careers in the history of sports. Ichiro came to the Mariners from the Pacific League in Japan at age 28, promptly winning the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards (Fred Lynn the only other player to win both awards in the same season). Dominating the American game so quickly makes you wonder what type of numbers he might boast if he had started his MLB career a few years sooner.
Lets figure it out:
Right now, he’s at 2,428 hits in the Majors—-if you add his Pacific League hit count (1,278), he’s at 3,706 hits for his career. Already good enough for fourth all-time behind only Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, and Pete Rose. However, the Japanese seasons were shorter, so he averaged about 150-160 less at bats. To estimate his hit total if he had been in the MLB all along, we take the full seasons he played in Japan (7) and multiply it by the difference in the at-bats he would have had in a 162 game season (150). That number is presumably the amount of extra at-bats he would have had over those 7 years (1,050) had he been in the MLB. Then I took his career MLB average, .326, and figured out how many hits that would get him in 1050 more ABs. That’s 342 hits.
Here’s the totals: 1,278 (Japan) + 2,428 (MLB) + 342 (had he played 162 games every year) = 4,048. That’s 208 hits away from Pete Rose’s 4,256—-a number Ichiro has hit nine times in his career. Its just speculation, but had Ichiro been with the Mariners from the start, we might be looking at a new all-time hit leader in 2012.
As for his equipment, Ichiro uses almost all Mizuno products, produced in his home country, Japan. His bat is a Mizuno ash, according to a great article from back in 2002 about how well Ichiro treats his equipment. In that article, it explains that Ichiro used tamo wood in Japan but switched to ash in the Majors because he found that the ash responded better to the climate. All the research we’ve done supports that, but Mizuno does endorse their maple MZP51 as Ichiro’s game model. This might just be a matter of marketing. Here is a game used bat from Ichiro that has his own special trademark on the sweet spot.
Ichiro’s have a navy blue base color while the ones we’ve found online are in black. Regardless, these look like great gloves.
Ichiro’s cleats are as unique as any you will ever see in baseball. They seem to be inspired by wrestling shoes, and Ichiro is said to prefer them because of their lightweight quality. There is an awesome site (in Japanese that you will have to translate) that shows all the cleats Asics has made for Ichiro since his career began in Japan! We won’t be able to get our hands (or feet) on them, but imagine if we could…
Had to add this one—-Nuthin’ but a G Thang was too much to resist:
Here are the links:
Mizuno MZP51 Maple (referred to as Ichiro’s game model, though Ichiro supposedly prefers ash)
Just as we showed in our last post about his hitting, Ichiro’s transcontinental body of work as a fielder is just as impressive. Ichiro won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards in the Majors (2001-2010) and before that won the Japanese equivalent, the Golden Glove, 7 times, for 17 total awards, all consecutively. Had he played in the Majors all along, 17 Gold Gloves would have put him second all-time behind Greg Maddux (18), and five ahead of the next closest outfielders—-Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente tied at 12. Still, even if we only count his Major League Gold Gloves, he is one of only six outfielders to win 10 times since the award was created by Rawlings in 1957.
Ichiro’s glove is and has always been (since 6th grade!) a Mizuno with that sprawling, fishing-net-like “Ichiro” web. There is a great article here on Ichiro’s relationship with the craftsman who handmade the Gold Glove-winning leather since his first pro season. Just as with his bats (which he stores in a humidor in the clubhouse), Ichiro treats his glove like a master craftsman would treat his tools. He says there is a “human spirit” in his equipment, and that his glove is an “extension of (his) body.” The GMP70BK is modeled after Ichiro’s glove, and is available online.
As great as he is with the glove, we all know what he’s best known for out in right field. Instead of showing you the one you’ve seen 1000 times (Terrence Long), here’s some of Ichiro’s earlier victims…
Ichiro has also been known to wear some provocative eyewear over the years. Most recently, he has been wearing his signature series Oakley Radar Path that you see in the feature photo above. Although we have seen him wearing a white/light blue version as well as a red version in Spring Training this year (left), and many different versions over the years.
One of those versions is the “Juliet” Signature Series (below) that he wore a few years back. They are actually available through Oakley’s website, while the Radar Path sunglasses seem very hard to find.
Here is another picture of Ichiro in the Oakley Thump MP3 player sunglasses which can also be found on Oakley’s site. Obviously this was not in-game, but still pretty cool to see Ichiro jammin’. I’d love to know what he’s listening to.
Here are the links:
Oakley Radar Path Signature Series (this is going to give you tons of results and different versions that he’s worn–most are very expensive, but if you’ve got your heart set on these, then explore and you might get lucky!)
Oakley Radar Path (plenty of different options if you’re interested in the Radar Path model that Ichiro wears)
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