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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jay Jaffe: In Ichiro, Yankees get a big name and not much else

Not according to John Sterling, who buhnered up…“What Ichiro can give the Yankees with his arm! His legs! His bat!...It’s just phenomenal!”

For all of his international superstardom, Ichiro rates as a marginal improvement at best. He’s simply no longer the Ichiro in the catalog anymore, the player who collected at least 200 hits every year from 2001-2010, and set a major league record with 262 in 2004. A quick look at his stat lines suggests he’s suffering from Acute Bat Death Syndrome, hitting .261/.288/.353 this year, down from an already awful .272/.310/.335 last year, his first truly subpar season. Some of that owes to pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, where he has hit .245/.283/.320 in 2011-2012; away from there, he has hit .289/.320/.362.

Even so, for a corner outfielder, those are abysmal numbers. His .235 True Average this year ranks 24th out of 25 who qualify for the batting title, with Jeff Francoeur (.232) the only one who’s worse. It’s also worse than all 16 qualified leftfielders, the position where Ichiro is likely to spend the majority of his time with New York, and 19 out of 20 qualified centerfielders. Digging further down into the numbers, it appears that the lefty swinger, whose career splits against lefties and righties are virtually equal, has tailed off more sharply against lefties (.261/.288/.297 with just 14 unintentional walks and one homer in 371 PA) than righties (.271/.308/.364 with eight homers and 25 unintentional walks in 773 PA) during the 2011-2012 period.

...It’s possible the change in scenery and the move to a more friendly park for hitters will reinvigorate Ichiro’s bat; recalling stories of his batting practice power shows, many fans on Twitter have salivated at the thought of him discarding his slap-hitting ways in favor of taking aim at the short porch. Such an extreme shift in approach isn’t likely to happen, nor is the move likely to alter the Yankees’ chances at reaching the postseason; at 57-38, with a six-game lead in the AL East, they already hold the majors’ best record, and that’s after being swept in a four-game series in Oakland entering tonight’s game in Seattle. Still, the move of a likely future Hall of Famer to the pinstripes is one that rates watching, even if only for curiosity’s sake.

Repoz Posted: July 24, 2012 at 07:58 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2012 at 08:35 AM (#4190626)
enough about ichiro

what in the wide, wide world of sports has happened to justin smoak? wasn't he supposed to be a somebody?
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 24, 2012 at 08:44 AM (#4190631)
LOL.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 24, 2012 at 08:45 AM (#4190634)
"I'm going from a team having the most losses to a team with the most wins, so it's been hard to maintain my excitement," Ichiro said.


Now if we could only figure out a major reason _why_ your team had the most losses.
   4. Yonder Alonso in misguided trousers (cardinal) Posted: July 24, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4190655)
what the heck is True Average?
   5. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 24, 2012 at 09:36 AM (#4190664)
Now if we could only figure out a major reason _why_ your team had the most losses.

Truly, if you're not part of the solution...
   6. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: July 24, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4190672)
"I'm going from a team having the most losses to a team with the most wins, so it's been hard to maintain my excitement," Ichiro said.

I think 'contain' is the word you are looking for there...

Truly, if you're not part of the solution...

...you're part of the precipitate.
   7. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 24, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4190674)
...you're part of the precipitate.

And 11th grade chemistry comes flooding back in an unstoppable wave of nostalgia.

   8. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: July 24, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4190681)
There seems to be an anti-Ichiro acquisition backlash brewing. And I can't for the life of me figure out why. The Yankees just paid 1% of their payroll and two "prospects" to see if a HoVG-er can recapture it for a few months. They released Dewayne Wise for the roster spot. I like Wise, and like what he did for the team. But how could this be considered a bad move? I just don't see the logical downside; only upside.
   9. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 24, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4190688)
I don't listen to NY sports radio but I suspect these types of articles are driven by the sports radio/casual fan types who are more excited about the Ichiro acquisition than they should be. I can imagine a lot of folks saying "wow! We got Ichiro!!!" rather than "wow! We got a .270 hitter with no power and no plate discipline!"

You're right, there is no real downside here but I think the above is where the backlash is coming from.
   10. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 24, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4190708)
Isn't the downside opportunity cost? Chris Denorfia is a much better player and wouldn't have cost too much. There's a chance Ichiro bounces back, but if he keeps on doing what he's been doing, that's not a good player. But realistically, the Yankees aren't losing this division and it's probably not a bad thing for the the Yankee mystique (or "brand' in the modern vernacular that makes me want to kill myself) to have some association with the Ichiro legend. At the end of the day, this move isn't going to matter much at all except having Ichiro around will be cool for Yankee fans. Hopefully he turns the quote machine to 11.
   11. Joey B. has reignited his October #Natitude Posted: July 24, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4190713)
So if he ends up driving in the game winning run to win the World Series, does he get a plaque?
   12. Dan Posted: July 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4190716)
what the heck is True Average?


I believe True Average (TAv) is a newer label on Eqa.
   13. phredbird Posted: July 24, 2012 at 10:55 AM (#4190725)
this has all the makings of another will clark scenario. tired over the hill star changes scenery, briefly rediscovers his skills. frankly i wouldn't mind seeing that. ichiro has been a very entertaining figure for the game.
   14. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 24, 2012 at 11:01 AM (#4190733)
what in the wide, wide world of sports has happened to justin smoak? wasn't he supposed to be a somebody?


He looked good in college, but has never really hit all that well as a pro. Prospect analysts mostly gave him a pass on the numbers when he was coming up, and in retrospect, they probably shouldn't have.
   15. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 24, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4190740)
In 2008 the big debate among Orioles fans was Matusz vs. Smoak. Oh well...
   16. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4190747)
In 2008 the big debate among Orioles fans was Matusz vs. Smoak. Oh well...

A's fans were almost in tears that we missed him by 1 pick and ended up with Jemile Weeks instead.
   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 24, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4190775)
So if he ends up driving in the game winning run to win the World Series, does he get a plaque?

Just a large ovation on Old Timers Day. Even if The Magic of Pinstripes cause an Ichiro resurgence, he'll probably only be with the Yankees for the remainder of 2012.
   18. base ball chick Posted: July 24, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4190783)
16. Shooty: Applying to be Fearless Leader Posted: July 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4190747)
In 2008 the big debate among Orioles fans was Matusz vs. Smoak. Oh well...

A's fans were almost in tears that we missed him by 1 pick and ended up with Jemile Weeks instead.


- and some astros fans were in tears that we passed him up to pick jason castro The Catcher Of The Future who can't block balls, throw out runners or hit

real question is - why all of a sudden (past 3-4 years) can't hitters hit in seattle? there were lots of winning teams and good hitting players at safeco - now can't nobody hit?
   19. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4190826)

Other than Figgins, are there other good hitters who went to Seattle and just dropped off a cliff? Is it possible they just have a collection of bad hitters?
   20. UCCF Posted: July 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4190838)
Other than Figgins, are there other good hitters who went to Seattle and just dropped off a cliff? Is it possible they just have a collection of bad hitters?

Look at Adrian Beltre's numbers - career year at 25 in LA, goes to Seattle for 5 seasons where he never puts up an OPS+ over 112 despite being in his prime (ages 26-30), then leaves Seattle and puts up 2 straight seasons over 130 (and is on pace to get close to that again this year).
   21. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: July 24, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4190840)
"I'm going from a team having the most losses to a team with the most wins, so it's been hard to maintain my excitement," Ichiro said.

I think 'contain' is the word you are looking for there...

Damnit. I shouldn't be allowed to make comments before my 10th coffee of the day. I missed the obvious lame viagra joke...
   22. PepTech Posted: July 24, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4190852)
"We think (Ichiro) is a reincarnation of Brett Gardner," Cashman said. "He's a reproduction of what we lost."

I could have sworn Ichiro! was older than Gardner, but maybe he didn't want to be. Plus, isn't Gardner still alive?

------------

Sexson also sucked as soon as he stepped onto Safeco.
   23. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: July 24, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4190858)
Ichiro strikes me as the kind of guy that may be invigorated by this and catch lightning in a bottle for two months. Wouldn't be surprised if he hits .320 the rest of the way.
   24. AROM, Instagram Gangsta Posted: July 24, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4190863)
Nah, Sexson hit as should be expected, at least initially. First year in Seattle he hits .263, 39 homers, 144 OPS+. Next year he declined to 117, and then he just fell apart at age 32. That looks more like a case of old player skills than a ballpark problem.
   25. bobm Posted: July 24, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4190888)
Ichiro career splits, via BB REF.

I              Split   G  GS   PA   AB   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS tOPS+
     NYY-Yankee Stad  37  37  173  164 .341 .372 .439 .811   107
    NYY-Yankee Stad3  15  15   68   63 .333 .353 .492 .845   114
      SEA-Safeco Fld 926 923 4160 3845 .320 .366 .416 .782   100

   26. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: July 24, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4190896)
It's really hard to believe that his total OPS+ in Seattle is only 100.
   27. Srul Itza Posted: July 24, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4190897)
Wouldn't be surprised if he hits .320 the rest of the way.


Yeah? It'd shock the hell out of me. Of course if he did, Ray's head would probably explode, so it would be worth it just for a chance of that happening.

Apparently he's still a decent fielder, so if they slot him low in the batting order and he can pick it in the field, this could work out. And it could be fun, in its own way.

But I have to think there was something better out there for the taking.
   28. rconn23 Posted: July 24, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4191017)
I don't see this as a huge gamble for the Yankees at all. He still provides really good speed and defense. And while he wasn't hitting as well as DeWayne Wise - albeit in limited sample size for Wise - I'd still bet on Ichiro being the better player going forward.

The prospects they gave up were fringe at best and they only are paying a fraction of the last year of his deal.

Reports say the Yankees inquired on Upton and Span, but the asking price was too high, not surprisingly.
   29. Swedish Chef Posted: July 24, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4191045)
It's really hard to believe that his total OPS+ in Seattle is only 100.

Only? Any higher and it would have meant he played better in Safeco than on the road. Playing exactly the same at road and at home might not be so strange with Ichiro's skillset though.

(tOPS+ is normalized, when you average up all the splits it will always end up at 100)

   30. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: July 24, 2012 at 06:57 PM (#4191245)
I'd still bet on Ichiro being the better player going forward.


Is there really any question about that? Dewayne Wise is a 34-year-old journeyman with 196 career hits and a .222 career batting average.
   31. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: July 25, 2012 at 07:17 AM (#4191613)
I know this isn't much of a sample size, but how about Jesus Montero? Yeeesh. He went from the park tailored made for his swing to one that absolutely kills him. He also could just be a bust, but I think park is playing a factor as well.

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