Former Yankee outfielder Hideki Matsui announced his retirement today, ending his 20-year (10 in Japan) career.
Matsui, 38, spent 10 years in Japan playing for the Yomiuri Giants. Matsui had a career .308 average, 332 home runs, and 889 runs batted in. He played 1,250 games consecutively, the second longest streak in Japan. As a member of the Giants, Matsui took the team to the Japan Series (Japan’s World Series) four times and won the title three times. In his final season with the Giants, Matsui finished with a .334 average, 50 home runs, and 107 runs batted in.
Matsui signed with the New York Yankees following the 2002 season. In the 2003 season, he hit a grand slam for his first game at Yankee Stadium, the first Yankee to do so. He finished the season with a .287 average with 16 home runs and 106 runs batted in. In the 2003 season, Matsui would become the first Japanese player to hit a home run in the World Series. Matsui would go on to fall short of the American League Rookie of the Year award to Royals shortstop Angel Berroa with controversy. Two writers chose to leave Matsui off their ballots entirely due to his age which upset Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. The Yankees owner would note that the two writers chose to vote for eventual winners of the Rookie of the Year, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki, both who were experienced veterans from Japan.
In 2004, Matsui would hit a career-high 31 home runs and in 2005, a career-high .305 average and 116 runs batted in. In 2007, he would hit his 2,000th career hit (Japan and US combined) to get him into Japan’s Golden Player’s Club, a title for players with 2,000 hits, 200 wins, or 250 saves professionally.
In 2009, Matsui’s final season with the Yankees, he would be a critical part of winning the World Series. Matsui got 8 hits in 13 at-bats (.615 average) with 3 home runs and 8 runs batted in. He tied the single-game World Series record of 6 runs batted in in Game 6. He would win the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
He would play 3 more seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics, and Tampa Bay Rays before deciding to end his career.
Counting his 1,250 consecutive games in Japan with his 518 games consecutively played with the New York Yankes in his first 3 seasons, he played a total of 1,768 consecutive games. The 518 games consecutively played is the longest streak to start a Major League career. In the 2006 season, making a diving play on a fly ball to left field he would be forced to exit the game with a wrist injury to end his streak.
In his 10-year Major League career, Hideki Matsui finished with a .282 average, 175 home runs, and 760 runs batted in.
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