#5: Ichiro Suzuki: 2001 w/6.2 oWAR. Also, 2004 w/6.1 and 2007 w/5.4
I know he broke the hits record in 2004. If I was unable to watch or listen to the game, I would wake up every morning and check either the internet or the newspaper (The newspaper was an actual set of paper that would be delivered to your house every morning for you youngsters out there) to see how Ichiro did in his chase for the hits record.
However, 2001 was different. Ichiro was a “Rookie”, and unlike anything we had seen in Seattle before. I say “Rookie”, because Ichiro was 27 and already had amassed 1278 hits in Japan with a .353/.421/.522 slash line in nine seasons. We knew he was awesome over there, but the transition doesn’t always work.
Instead, Ichiro would come to the Mariners and hit .350 in 2001, playing a massive part in their insane season. All-Star, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and an MVP. He had a career-high 56 SBs as well as a career-high 34 2Bs that year as well. Side note, did you know Ichiro only had three seasons in his entire career in the states with 30+ doubles?
So, it wasn’t just the numbers that get him here. It’s what he meant to the Mariners fan base. A-Rod, Jr, and the Big Unit were all gone. Edgar was 38 and near the end, and Jamie Moyer was 38 as well. Not that it meant he would stop, and would actually pitch another 12 SEASONS! That man was crazy, and I miss him. Back to Ichiro. He was the new face of the franchise, and it gave us hope.
It might seem a bit odd that his marks were that low in oWAR, but power plays a part, as does OBP. Ichiro always had an incredible batting average, but he only ever had a single season with an OBP over 400. I can see the argument for either season, but that Rookie Year was such a fun experience and surprise, that it takes the top spot for Ichiro.
Oddly enough, Ichiro didn’t even have the best offensive season on the team that year.