Ichiro a candidate for next year’s MLB Hall of Fame…a ‘unanimous’ challenge

Ichiro Suzuki (51-Japan) is seeking to become the first Asian to be inducted into the Major League Baseball (MLB) Hall of Fame. He is also seeking to become the second unanimous inductee in history.

On Thursday, The Athletic, MLB.com, ESPN, and The Associated Press reported Ichiro’s potential induction into the MLB Hall of Fame in 2025.

Players are eligible for the Hall of Fame if they played at least 10 seasons in the major leagues and have been retired from active duty for five years. In addition to Ichiro, CC Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia, and Felix Hernandez will be among the first-time nominees after their uniforms are retired in 2019.

Of these, Ichiro is the most intriguing. Ichiro, who broke into the majors in 2001, finished his career in 2019 with a .311 batting average, 3089 hits, 117 home runs, 780 RBI, 1420 runs scored, 509 stolen bases, a .402 on-base percentage, and a .355 slugging percentage.

In his first season, 2001, he was named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player (MVP), and in 2004 he set the record for most hits in a single season (262). He also won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves from 2001 to 2010.

Ichiro will be eligible for induction next year if he receives 75 percent or more of the votes cast in the Hall of Fame balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

If elected, Ichiro will become the first Asian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Previously, Hideo Nomo and Hideki Matsui were inducted, but both fell short due to low voter turnout. Chan Ho Park, who holds the record for most wins by an Asian in the major leagues (124), did not even qualify for the Hall of Fame.

MLB.com considers Ichiro’s induction a foregone conclusion, saying, “It’s very easy to envision Ichiro speaking at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony next July.”

What the outside world is most interested in is unanimity. Mariano Rivera, with 652 career saves, was the only other unanimous Hall of Famer on the 2019 ballot. Derek Jeter, with 3,465 career hits, fell one vote shy of becoming the second unanimous captain on the 2020 ballot.

MLB.com called Ichiro “a unanimous candidate for the Hall of Fame alongside Rivera,” adding, “He came to the majors in his mid-to-late 20s, joined the 3,000-hit club, and set the record for most hits in a single season.”

“Ichiro’s impact on baseball transcends his major league career. He is a legend in Japan as much as he is in the United States. His U.S.-Japan career hits totaled 4,367.”