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. The only baseball cleats Asics has ever made, 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! Since he’s the only player they’ve ever been made for, obviously, 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)
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