Yet another pro-Ichiro post: he’s a Hall of Famer

DMZ · February 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Every time I hear that the M’s clubhouse is certain to be improved by having a future Hall of Famer there, I yell “they already had one!”

And potentially two, with Felix’s potential.

I’m entirely serious. If you count Ichiro’s NPB time, you’d elect him tomorrow. But if you only count his hitting to date, no credit for defense at all, and you only look at a very superficial stuff that seems to count in voting… Ichiro’s an MVP, Rookie of the Year, 8-time All-Star, 8-time Gold Glove winner, led the league in hits five times, holds the single-season record for hits.

If you use the Black Ink test, looking at the number of times he led the league, he’s right now an above-average Hall of Famer. Same if you use the Hall of Fame Monitor number.

Gray ink, Hall of Fame standards, he’s below average.

You give him any credit for being the first Japanese position player to find such success, which at the time remember was far from a given, and which led the way for Matsui and a host of others, if you give him credit for his defense, and particularly if you’re willing to give him any recognition at all for his time in Japan, he’s a shoe-in.

And that’s not even getting into advanced stat-foo and constructing some serious forward projections at career marks, valuing defense, and so on.

The Mariners have two Hall of Fame hitters in the clubhouse now.


29 Responses to “Yet another pro-Ichiro post: he’s a Hall of Famer”

  1. DMZ on February 22nd, 2009 1:18 pm

    Fun side note: Ichiro’s under 60 singles away from Griffey’s career mark, despite playing 12 fewer seasons.

  2. JI on February 22nd, 2009 1:32 pm

    He’s probably going to end up with 3000 MLB hits, and had he had the opportunities most players have he would have had a chance at Rose’s record. Factor in defense, durability and baserunning and I don’t see how he could be left out.

  3. heyoka on February 22nd, 2009 1:38 pm

    Ich has reached the minimum 8 years. It would be a conspiracy not to vote him in at this point, even if he broke his leg tomorrow and never played again. Too many accomplishments – even short of the superficial stats.

    Perhaps more interesting would be to try and play devil’s advocate and try to think why he wouldn’t get in……

    -less playing time and playoff success than similar players who aren’t in – like willie wilson, kenny lofton, etc.

    -hasn’t reached recent hof standard stats necessary for a leadoff man to get in, like 3k hits, 1.7+k runs scored, or high number of walks. So, too soon to project him in due to lack of longevity

    -His hit totals are an empty stat – merely above average ops, whereas hof is reserved for greats.

    that’s off the top of my head, but I don’t buy those arguments when taking everything into account and throwing out his japan accomplishments. Mayhaps I get booed off the stage for this one, but I view him as a lesser version of Jackie Robinson in terms of his impact (“lesser version” of Jackie Robinson is still high praise in terms of impact.) Just think about how much he’s brought of Japan’s media attention toward MLB baseball, and set the path for future japanese position players.

    All that aside, I still view his pure numbers as hof-worthy despite my devil’s advocate conjectures.

    We’ll see about felix…..

  4. galaxieboi on February 22nd, 2009 1:40 pm

    FWIW, non-Ichiro!/Mariner fans who are, what I would consider, very knowledgeable baseball fans think of him as almost a shoe in too.

    I, also, think he almost certainly ends up with 3000 hits.

  5. Ms4Ever on February 22nd, 2009 1:48 pm

    Ichiro will most certainly be in the Hall of Fame — let’s just make it easy on the voters and get him and Junior a World Series ring! (I know I’m delusional)

  6. nadingo on February 22nd, 2009 2:04 pm

    Fun side note: Ichiro’s under 60 hits away from Griffey’s career mark, despite playing 12 fewer seasons.

    You mean singles, right? Yeah, it’ll be fun watching that play out this season. I wonder what the announcements will be like when Ichiro overtakes Griffey’s singles mark.

  7. DMZ on February 22nd, 2009 2:07 pm

    I’ll go edit that.

  8. Breadbaker on February 22nd, 2009 3:04 pm

    And of course, there’s the simple fact that he’s been famous enough to be on national media radar screens way out here where Adrian Beltre “disappeared.”

  9. The Ancient Mariner on February 22nd, 2009 3:21 pm

    First, my inner pedant: it’s shoo-in; sorry, but that one always bugs me.

    On to Ichiro . . . I think he’d certainly be talked about as a future HOFer if he played for the Yanks or Red Sox; being a Mariner hurts him in that regard. A lot of his HOF case is in his fielding — and fortunately, there, he’s made some spectacular plays that people remember, so at a visceral level, he actually does get some credit for that; but I suspect that for people to really buy in to his being a worthy candidate for the Hall at this point, they’d need to buy into at least the general conclusions of the fielding metrics we have, as well as arguments like Matthew makes here. Without a real sense for how many runs he’s saved the M’s with his glove and arm over the years, I suspect that too many people would look at his batting lines and say, “That’s not a Hall of Fame right fielder.” The paradigm shift Dave called for recently hasn’t happened yet.

    That said, of course, his career isn’t done yet, and he’s not really showing significant signs that it’s going to be any time soon; I don’t know how exactly you factor that in, given that he’s typically given the projection systems fits, but I suspect that by the time he is done, he still won’t be seen as a first-ballot player (whether he should be or not), but that it will be generally recognized that he belongs in the Hall. Voters tend to be impressed by players who are still good into their late 30s, after all, and I think he will be; I suspect he’ll see his 40th birthday in the majors. (My hope is that he’ll be able to celebrate it on the baseball field; I’m rooting for Ichiro and the M’s to make a World Series run in October 2013.)

  10. DMZ on February 22nd, 2009 3:25 pm

    Ah, so now we’re getting into the detailed arguments about whether he should or will, and on fielding, all I want to say is this: if you buy advanced defensive metrics, you’re on Ichiro’s side. If you don’t buy them, he’s got eight Gold Gloves, so you’re on Ichiro’s side.

  11. dw on February 22nd, 2009 3:47 pm

    I think if Ichiro retires after the 2010 season (thus reaching the 10 seasons he needs to be HOF-eligible), he will be elected to the Hall in 2015. I’m really unsure he’ll get to 3000, though. He’d need 200 hits a year from now until his year 40 season to get there, and unfortunately, age eventually will catch up to him.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Keltner List that Bill James has talked about. If you go through those questions, it’s pretty clear Ichiro meets most of the Keltner List’s standards; only his counting stats (which are implied between the lines of the Keltner List as being important) are poor, and with that you just point out those numbers would be fine if he’d signed with the Mariners at 21.

  12. CSG on February 22nd, 2009 4:49 pm

    I think Ichiro should already be considered a member of the 3000 hit club, as he is currently at 3083 hits between Japan and MLB. He might not have begun his career as young if he’d started his career in MLB, but he was also deprived of a lot of potential hits by the 135-game NPB schedule. Also, among batting statistics, batting average between NPB and MLB translates fairly evenly, which makes me think Ichiro could have been putting up impressive BA’s and hit totals from 1994 forward, as he hit .385 with 210 hits in Japan that year. The question should really be if he can reach 4000 hits between the NPB and MLB, which would probably make him a first-ballot hall of famer.

  13. ppl on February 22nd, 2009 5:18 pm

    If the baseball writers keep shunning people scandalized by performance enhancers: Ichiro’s stats will be more than enough to get in. They got to vote for somebody.

  14. hub on February 22nd, 2009 6:06 pm

    Ichiro is a little-bit Pete Rose, a little-bit Rod Carew….and a WHOLE lotta cool.

  15. The Ancient Mariner on February 22nd, 2009 6:48 pm

    Actually, Derek, what I was getting at was this: it depends on how much you think those Gold Gloves are actually worth. I think he’s a Hall of Famer now, I agree with you completely; I think he should get in, and I think he will, and I think that in part because I think he’s going to be good enough long enough even to make that clear to those who don’t properly appreciate him. I simply think that most people who don’t follow the M’s closely are in the latter category.

  16. 3pac10 on February 22nd, 2009 7:01 pm

    So, say Ichiro’s combined NPB and MLB hit total starts to approach Rose’s. Does MLB/the national media follow Ichiro’s chase with major fervor or is it a Jumbotron moment?

    On the one hand, no one cared when Ripken broke Kinugasa’s record for consecutive games (2215). On the other hand, baseball’s going to need *some* major record to be broken by someone untainted by steroids in the next few years.

  17. Mere Tantalisers on February 22nd, 2009 8:30 pm

    I suspect Ichiro will have an easier time getting in than Edgar will. Longevity will be a problem for him – he will not have the career totals that other similar players have had – but his rate stats are nonpareil. He’s got the awards, he’s got his unique Ichi-aura, he’s got great name recognition; these things go a long way. But what gets him in, if not in his first year of eligibility, is that he’s the first Japanese player with anything like a HoF worthy resume. And I’m not taking a shot at him here – it means a lot.

  18. japanjohnny on February 23rd, 2009 2:32 am

    He’s a lock-too many accomplishments in a short amount of time to justify keeping him out. His time here doesn’t hold him back, it enhances his chances.

  19. Tek Jansen on February 23rd, 2009 4:56 am

    I believe that Ichiro will benefit from HoF voters who now look suspiciously upon almost all power hitters (Arod, Sosa, McGuire, etc.) I have a suspicion that many of those voters will want to reward a player who hit a lot of infield singles, played great defense, and stole bases.

  20. The Ancient Mariner on February 23rd, 2009 6:31 am

    Hmm . . . interesting thought, Tek. That would definitely seem likely to have at least some effect.

  21. wickethewok on February 23rd, 2009 8:56 am

    The Black Ink test and HoF monitor are intended to guess if the player will be elected based on past candidates. That is to say, it includes the bias of the BBWAA. Ichiro, while indisputably a great defender, is overrated offensively as he is a singles hitter who doesn’t walk much (which the Black Ink test loves). Looking at his Runs-Created, he’s only been in the top 10 three times.

    However, it isn’t the MLB Hall of Fame, it is the Baseball Hall of Fame. Because of this, Ichiro should be rewarded for his playing time in Japan by the HoF, as should players like Sadaharu Oh.

  22. Mike Snow on February 23rd, 2009 9:28 am

    However, it isn’t the MLB Hall of Fame, it is the Baseball Hall of Fame. Because of this, Ichiro should be rewarded for his playing time in Japan by the HoF, as should players like Sadaharu Oh.

    They may get there eventually, but Ichiro will mostly have to get in on his performance in America. They didn’t start thinking about Negro Leaguers until after Jackie Robinson was inducted.

  23. TomG on February 23rd, 2009 9:54 am

    But…but…Joe Sheehan said he’s the most overrated baseball player in the game today.

  24. Ralph_Malph on February 23rd, 2009 10:59 am

    There will, I’m afraid, be some bias against Ichiro in both the BBWAA voting and (if he didn’t get in that way) in the old-timer’s voting, because of the ridiculous stuff about how he gets along with his teammates spread by jerks like Putz (and perpetuated by certain writers).

    Jerry Brewer said twice in the last week in the Times that Ichiro might finally be “engaged” this year because of Griffey. Personally I would be hard pressed to think of any other player who is more “engaged” than Ichiro, given his extraordinary focus, but this crap will likely affect his HOF voting by the writers.

  25. joser on February 23rd, 2009 11:10 am

    On the other hand, baseball’s going to need *some* major record to be broken by someone untainted by steroids in the next few years.

    And the record he’d be breaking is currently held by someone baseball is trying to forget. Imagine if Aaron had been chasing Bonds’ record, and not the other way around. Of course, baseball wanting to pretend Rose never existed works against Ichiro too, since bringing up the record brings up Rose, who’s still out there agitating to have his legacy restored (and given the recent scandals, his particular crimes do seem almost quaint and old-timey in comparison).

    I don’t know how much the clubhouse thing will matter, though. Everybody thought Ty Cobb was a bastard and he’s in.

  26. Ralph_Malph on February 23rd, 2009 11:13 am

    it isn’t the MLB Hall of Fame, it is the Baseball Hall of Fame

    Actually, it’s the “National Baseball Hall of Fame”. Its mission statement talks about baseball’s impact on “our” culture and refers to it as “our National Pastime”. This is not an inclusive international organization which has a purpose of honoring baseball achievements around the world.

    Whether it should be or not is a different question. The reality, though, is that it isn’t that organization.

  27. Breadbaker on February 23rd, 2009 5:47 pm

    Looking at his Runs-Created, he’s only been in the top 10 three times.

    That’s in eight seasons. Jim Rice just made the Hall of Fame, and solely as a hitter, and was in the top ten in Runs Created only six times in a career of 16 seasons. Ichiro’s both got the great fielding props and is one of the best percentage basestealers of all time.

    Some of the counting stat stuff (this applies to Edgar too but don’t get me started) has started to seem silly to me. 3000 hits was never the standard for the Hall of Fame, nor was 500 home runs, nor was 300 wins. Player who hung around just to reach statistical milestones when they weren’t productive players shouldn’t get credit above players who were in stupid organizations (like Edgar) or essentially under serfdom in Japan (like Ichiro) and didn’t get to have the long careers they would otherwise have enjoyed. Pete Rose was pretty much a replacement player years before he got the hits record (other than his 41-game rookie season at 18, Ty Cobb was never under league OPS at any point in his career; Rose was under his last seven seasons; Edgar retired the year his OPS dipped below league average).

  28. Kazinski on February 23rd, 2009 11:03 pm

    If I had a vote, no way would I vote Ichiro for the HOF. Deserving or not, I’d be too scared of what he’d wear to the induction ceremony.

  29. BoiseMoose on February 25th, 2009 11:46 am

    I’m a couple days late, and surely a dollar short, but I had to add this. He’s already eligible for the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, unless they consider him to still be an “active” player, which he may be, since my quick research ino it didn’t specify Japanese league or not. Surely, when its all said and done, he will be eligible for both Japan’s National Baseball HOF AND the US National Baseball HOF!

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