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Ichiro Suzuki Most Overrated Leadoff Hitter Of All-Time

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Ichiro Suzuki just accomplished an incredible feat by picking up hit no. 4,000 of his professional career and that number gets combined with his time in Japan and in Major League Baseball.

With the Seattle Mariners he primarily hit leadoff and after getting traded to the New York Yankees in 2012 and he’s only batted first in the lineup 45 times in 186 games. Here’s a look at his numbers on a yearly basis while leading off.

Career Totals- Baseball-Reference.com

Ichiro’s batting average is certainly good, yet his on-base percentage, walk totals, stolen bases, and extra base hits are low. Still there are many who believe he’s among the greatest lead off hitters in MLB history and the numbers don’t justify his inclusion among the greatest.

What’s important is how one determines greatness in that role. Average doesn’t necessary signify it as Rickey Henderson’s career average in 25 seasons was .279. Walks and OBP need to get looked at first as it means making the pitcher work, something Ichiro has never done well. Henderson walked 2,190 times in his career and had a OBP of .401.

Once on-base it meant stealing bases and keeping the pitcher occupied. When Ichiro first joined the Mariners in 2001 he did that stealing 56 bases as his career progressed those numbers dropped until 2006 when he stole 45. His speed still allowed for him to score over 100 runs in seven of his first eight seasons also in 2001 he set a career high with 125 runs scored.

There aren’t many leadoff hitters who come close to the accomplishments of Henderson. The question then isIchiro top five of all-time? Answer to that is no, yet there are many who will over inflate his hit numbers to put him in that position.

Here’s a look at the career numbers of the better lead off hitters:

Kenny Lofton

Kenny Lofton
Kenny Lofton- Baseball-Reference.com


Tim (Rock) Raines

Tim Raines
Tim Raines- Baseball-Reference.com


Lou Brock

Lou Brock
Lou Brock- Baseball-Reference.com


 Pete Rose

Pete Rose
Pete Rose- Baseball-Reference.com

Ichiro as a leadoff hitter is above average at best and he certainly doesn’t belong among the top five in MLB history.






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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

0 thoughts on “Ichiro Suzuki Most Overrated Leadoff Hitter Of All-Time

  1. Ichiro is the most over–rated POSITION PLAYER in baseball history. Compare him to a contemporary…Brian Giles….Each have had 15 year careers. Giles has a career OBP of 400….Ichiro’s is 358. Giles’s Slugging percentage is 502, Ichiro’s is 410. Both played right field. Ichiro played most of his career in a better hitter’s park than Giles….the gaps are huge…..Giles did not receive even one vote for the hall of fame. These are he two most important stats…they correlate highest with run production….Ichiro is nowhere near the best leadoff hitter in baseball history…he is not in the top 25. The only reason he scored over a hundred runs a few times is that he had a few years with good OBP’s, (never close to league leading), never missed a game, and played on an offensive juggernaut with great RBI men behind him…..he was a good singles hitter, a good fielder, and a good fielder, with fine arm….but he is not in the top 40 right fielders in history. He will be elected on the first ballot because the writers have no idea hat makes a great player…they are enamored of records…..

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