July 28, 2008
By: Adam Van Dyke
This was supposed to be the season the Seattle Mariners turned it around. The addition of Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva to the pitching rotation seemed to be the only thing missing from a squad that was only one solid starting pitcher away from the post season last year. But as most of us know, sometimes things don’t always work out as you plan. There has been one bright spot on the Mariners roster this season. Just as he has done since he arrived in the big leagues, Ichiro continues to hit and display howitzer-type arm-strength in the outfield.
Considering what the Mariner’s brass shelled out for some players (who will go unmentioned) during the last few years in Seattle, Ichiro’s 17 million dollar a year salary seems like a bargain. All the guy does is hit over .300, win gold gloves, and scare opposing base runners whenever they are fortunate enough to reach base against the Mariner’s pitching staff (which has been often this year). To date, Ichiro has won an AL MVP, was named the AL Rookie of the Year, picked up a Silver Slugger award, and oh yeah, toss in a Gold Glove every year since 2001, his first in the Bigs. He also broke George Sisler’s “untouchable” single-season hit record in 2004 on his way to batting .372.
Many people don’t pay a lot of attention to Ichiro because he plays in Seattle and the Mariners have only been to the post season once since his first year with the team. But don’t overlook what he does in the field. He may only stand 5’11” and weigh 172 pounds, but he stands toe-to-toe with the best defensive outfielders of the past decade. Playing both right and center field, Ichiro has compiled a .996 fielding percentage while piling up 72 outfield assists and only 16 errors since 2001.
His accomplishments are nothing short of amazing and he should be given great credit for his focus on doing everything he can to help his team win despite its struggles this season. When things go as awry as they have for the Mariners this season, it isn’t uncommon for players to point fingers and lose sight of the ultimate goal: respecting the game and winning ballgames. Ichiro has demonstrated true professionalism during this season and don’t be surprised if this career .331 hitter raises his average even more before the season is done and adds his consecutive years with 200 or more hits to eight. Throw in another Gold Glove at the end of the season and what do you get? Just another typical year for Ichiro.