Over 2,600 hits.  A .322 lifetime batting average.  More than 3,400 total bases.  450+ steals.  1,200+ runs scored.  Over 600 RBI and over 100 home runs for a non-power player.  Ichiro Suzuki is not a Hall of Famer.  He is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

And the reason actually has nothing to do with numbers.  The numbers above would qualify him to be in the discussion as a first ballot guy.  But it is his pioneering of the game from Japan that puts him up a level to earn the label of a first ballot Hall of Famer.  Look at the amount of Asian players in the game now.  Hideo Nomo was one thing for pitchers.  But Ichiro carried the torch in the early 2000's and paved the way for hitters who never really made it over to play Major League Baseball.  Ichiro set the tone for decades in the Far East.  Now, teams scout differently and put more finances in the Far East and general managers look for the next Japanese player to help their team.  That didn't happen pre-Ichiro.

Ichiro has played the game with class, dignity and respect.  Hopefully, the baseball writers return the favor by making him a first ballot Hall of Famer in Cooperstown.  The guy deserves it.

By:  Mike Lindsley, "Mid-Day with Mike," 1-4, Yankees pre/post game host on 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio.  Follow him on Twitter @MikeLSports.  

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