Why was Ichiro Suzuki considered a great baseball player?

Ichiro Suzuki retired on March 21, 2019, and most baseball fans believe that he'll enter the Baseball Hall of Fame as soon as he's eligible (the Hall of Fame's voting system is complex, so Suzuki might not get in on his first try, but that's a subject for another answer). To understand why, it's helpful to look at a few key facts.

First, Ichiro had 3,089 hits over the course of his Major League Baseball career (you can check that stat, and all the rest, on BaseBall-Reference.com). Generally, players with more than 3,000 hits are considered Hall of Fame caliber, and because Ichiro started his MLB career fairly late-he played in the Japan Pacific League until he was 27 years old-his enormous hit total carries some extra weight. Counting his JPL career, Ichiro had a total of 4,367 hits, and many baseball fans believe that the Japanese outfielder would have beaten the record for most career hits if he'd started in the MLB. The all-time hits leader in the MLB is Pete Rose, who had 4,256. Second, Ichiro hit for a very high average, and he was incredibly consistent from year to year. In the MLB, a batting average of .300 or higher is usually considered excellent. Ichiro's career batting average never dipped below .300. In his first year, 2001, he hit for an astounding .350 average, capturing the American League batting title, MVP, and Rookie of the Year awards in the process.

Ichiro also holds the record for most hits in a single season (262 in 2004), and in his first 10 years in the MLB, he cleared the 200-hit mark every season. While he didn't hit for much power, his ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field made him a valuable asset.

If that wasn't enough, he was also fast. In his career, Ichiro stole 509 bases, making him one of only seven players to steal more than 500 bases while also reaching the 3,000 mark, according to MLB.com. An extraordinary hitter, fielder, and runner, Ichiro is widely considered one of the greatest leadoff men (the first batter in a baseball lineup) of all time.