Ichiro's 200-hit milestone due to technique, training

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 27, 2010)
Ichiro's 200-hit milestone due to technique, training
イチロー 技と鍛錬が生んだ200安打(9月26日付・読売社説)

The Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki has reached yet another milestone in Major League Baseball history.

On Thursday, Suzuki notched 200 hits for an unprecedented 10th consecutive season, breaking his own major league record of nine straight 200-hit seasons. We'd like to extend our warmest congratulations on this remarkable feat.

Ten years have passed since Suzuki joined the Seattle Mariners after a nine-year stint with the Orix BlueWave (now the Orix Buffaloes) of Japan's Pacific League.

Suzuki has exceeded 200 hits every year since moving to the United States, using his masterful bat control and natural speed on the base paths.

Commenting on his achievement, Suzuki said, "I know better than anyone that it's not easy."

His feat is a great record that can only be achieved through continuous training and good physical conditioning.

The Seattle Mariners have performed poorly in recent seasons, and the team is in last place in the American League West this year. With his team running in low gear, it must be difficult for Suzuki to maintain his concentration.


Pete Rose mark within reach

Former Major League player Pete Rose, who also is widely known in Japan, also had at least 200 hits in 10 seasons but not consecutively.

If Suzuki reaches 200 hits for the 11th consecutive season next year, he also would top Rose for the most 200-hit seasons. We hope he will break this record, too.

On Sept. 18, Suzuki collected his 3,500th hit in his major league and Japanese careers combined. However, since this statistic includes the hits he had during his Japan playing days, it does not necessarily garner much praise in the United States.

For that reason, the significance of the 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons he achieved only in the United States stands out.

Major league players praised Suzuki's achievement as a record that will be unbreakable for the next 100 years. Despite reaching the mark while his team was on the road in Toronto, the fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation.

Suzuki will turn 37 next month. When he is in a slump, some people say his abilities have declined due to age.

However, Suzuki's extraordinary speed has hardly diminished, as this season he reached the 40-steal mark for the first time in two years.


NPB knock-on effect

Suzuki's marquee performances also stimulate Nippon Professional Baseball. Norichika Aoki of the Yakult Swallows and other players who admire Suzuki are studying his technique and banging out the hits.

Japan won the World Baseball Classic championship both times the tournament has been staged, in 2006 and 2009. Japanese baseball will rise to an even higher level if more players follow Suzuki's example and achieve excellence in all three facets of the game--running, hitting and fielding.

Above all, the growing number of children who pick up bats dreaming of becoming baseball players like Suzuki will help spread the game even further.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 26, 2010)
(2010年9月26日01時11分 読売新聞)

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