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.
Posted: July 24, 2012 at 06:58 AM | 31 comment(s)
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