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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Klapisch: Could the Yanks get more power from Ichiro Suzuki?

So why do some scouts believe Ichiro is one possible answer to the Yankees’ hunt for more home runs? The answer can be found during batting practice, when the Japanese star puts on a power display that rivals any of his teammates’ — and that includes Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.

“[Ichiro] can hit the ball farther than any of them,” is what one bird dog said this week. Of course, there’s a huge gulf between those make-believe blasts at 5 p.m. and what the Yankees actually need from Ichiro once the game begins. But the point nevertheless has traction: What if Ichiro really did change his approach to take advantage of the Stadium’s short right-field porch over a full season?

Actually, there’s statistical proof that suggests Ichiro morphed last summer, nearly quadrupling his home run ratio after being traded to New York. Ichiro managed one HR every 100 at-bats with the Mariners, but, upon becoming a Yankee, hit one every 26 in the Stadium.

... If Ichiro has the power to go 400-plus feet in batting practice, and the in-game IQ to predict a pitcher’s sequence, why not lean on him for a few more home runs, especially in the Bronx this year?

He pondered the question, listening intently as the interpreter navigated from English to Japanese. Ichiro finally nodded.

“I’ll hit home runs,” he said. “If it’s OK for me to hit .200.”

And then he smiled. Broadly.

Thanks to Howie Menckel.

Repoz Posted: February 27, 2013 at 12:27 PM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 27, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4377045)
“I’ll hit home runs,” he said. “If it’s OK for me to hit .200.”

And then he smiled. Broadly.


I freaking love Ichiro!.
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4377048)
He could be a True Yankee, if he wanted to
   3. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: February 27, 2013 at 12:55 PM (#4377053)
Ichiro is Yankee enough, but are the Yankees Ichiro enough?
   4. Gamingboy Posted: February 27, 2013 at 01:11 PM (#4377068)
Hang on, I made this as a joke a few days ago when Granderson got hurt: They could replace his home runs by convincing Ichiro that he wanted to hit more home runs.
   5. What's the realistic upside, RMc? Posted: February 27, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4377072)
“I’ll hit home runs,” he said. “If it’s OK for me to hit .200.”

And then he smiled. Broadly.


Doing a little eye-balling, for Ichiro! to hit around .200 while still achieving an OPS around where he's been the last few years (.700 or so), he'd need about 30 HRs.

Ichiro a TTOer? Say it ain't so!
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 27, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4377169)
Tell you what, Ichiro, how about you want to hit home runs in some at-bats, and you want to do that thing where you run halfway to first base while you're swinging and beat out a grounder to shortstop in other at-bats?
   7. Walt Davis Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4377187)
I hate it when players like Ichiro and Albert Belle hit home runs.
   8. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4377208)
Ichiro could be Adam Dunn if he wanted to.
   9. Al Kaline Trio Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4377286)
What about hitting HR's in hitters counts and hitting dinks with 2 strikes? What about that Ichiro???
   10. Transmission Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4377290)
It is not for us to question the ways of the gods.
   11. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4377298)
This and "Alfonso Soriano is available" just never get old.

Funnily enough for Ichiro, it would seem to present itself as the perfect storm. Homers are easier to come by in Yankee stadium and they do require someone to try to step up. I'd love to see him try to hit 25-30 homers just for the hell of it.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4377302)
Funnily enough for Ichiro, it would seem to present itself as the perfect storm. Homers are easier to come by in Yankee stadium and they do require someone to try to step up. I'd love to see him try to hit 25-30 homers just for the hell of it.

If Ichiro went out and put up a 1982 Dave Kingman stat line, it would be f@cking awesome. I would bow down. He would be my Lord and Master.
   13. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4377309)
It is not for us to question the ways of the gods.

Can we question the replacement level?
   14. BDC Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4377312)
There's a story about Ty Cobb (IIRC) in which he decided that Babe Ruth was getting entirely too much press, and proceeded to hit three home runs in one game, and then said "#### that, I just wanted to show I could do it." I believe that Cobb actually did have a 3-HR game in the 1920s, and I think that he would have had considerable power had he been born a few decades later (George Brett is probably an excellent comp for Cobb as a hitter, allowing for era). But I have no idea whether the story of Cobb's attitude is true.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4377317)
There's a story about Ty Cobb (IIRC) in which he decided that Babe Ruth was getting entirely too much press, and proceeded to hit three home runs in one game, and then said "#### that, I just wanted to show I could do it." I believe that Cobb actually did have a 3-HR game in the 1920s, and I think that he would have had considerable power had he been born a few decades later (George Brett is probably an excellent comp for Cobb as a hitter, allowing for era). But I have no idea whether the story of Cobb's attitude is true.


I think it's been researched and verified, and it was more than him hitting three homeruns, it's that he told the press he was going to go out there and hit homeruns before the game.
   16. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4377319)
Ichiro in his career at New Yankee Stadium (194 PAs): 350/374/539 with 7 homers.

They'll be fine!
   17. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4377322)
Perhaps in need of a fisking as far as Cobb's purported intent, but the story covers May 5-6, 1925. On the 5th, he went 6-for-6 with a double and three home runs; the next day he had two more home runs.


   18. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4377324)
i am glad that i am close to death since i won't have too much more of this 'ichiro can hit homers any time he wants' bs

why anyone thought they needed to add to the legend of an already fascinating player baffles me

and others lapped it up

good grief
   19. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 27, 2013 at 08:03 PM (#4377353)
There's a story about Ty Cobb (IIRC) in which he decided that Babe Ruth was getting entirely too much press, and proceeded to hit three home runs in one game, and then said "#### that, I just wanted to show I could do it."


FWIW- Pete Rose in the 1960s a quasi-deadball era, hit 10-15 homers a year, basically equivalent to hitting 15-20 in most other eras

then his K-rate dropped some 30-40% and he averaged 3-5 homers a year the rest of his career- he wasn't hurt- he was Pete Rose and he was obsessed with getting 200 hits a year and getting to 3000 then 4000 hits... (And walk rate went up as his k-rate went down too- he was a very selective hitter in the later half of his career- his whole approach was geared to making solid contact but not necessarily to drive the ball- lost of doubles but no homers)
   20. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 27, 2013 at 08:05 PM (#4377354)
i am glad that i am close to death since i won't have too much more of this 'ichiro can hit homers any time he wants' bs


I'm half rooting for him to hit 20 in 400 at bats just to see the Ichiro naysayers have anyuerisms
   21. Steve Treder Posted: February 27, 2013 at 08:16 PM (#4377358)
I'm half rooting for him to hit 20 in 400 at bats

I'm entirely rooting, but only if his batting average is .198, with 139 strikeouts.
   22. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: February 27, 2013 at 08:20 PM (#4377360)
Perhaps in need of a fisking as far as Cobb's purported intent, but the story covers May 5-6, 1925. On the 5th, he went 6-for-6 with a double and three home runs; the next day he had two more home runs.

I guess if you're going to call your shot that way, you'd want to do it against the league's worst pitching staff and its best home-run-hitting park.
That's not a knock on what Cobb said & did; just that he was smart not to bring it up, say, before the Tigers' 4-game series at Comiskey a couple of weeks earlier.

In 1925, Cobb went from May 7 to June 1 without a homer, and then from June 26 to October 1 without a homer. Weird. Eerie.
   23. Morty Causa Posted: February 27, 2013 at 08:49 PM (#4377367)
It's amusing that the eternal "Ichiro could do it if he wanted to" has veered to one Tyrus Raymond, who probably could do it if he wanted to.
   24. bookbook Posted: February 27, 2013 at 09:02 PM (#4377373)
Strangely enough, Ichiro's #1 comp on bref is Dave Kingman
   25. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 27, 2013 at 09:04 PM (#4377375)
There was a guy James Weisberg who on the old rsbb who argued profusely that Cobb could have done it had he wanted to. So Ichiro! is the newcomer to this meme. :)
   26. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4377425)
Weisberg, if I remember correctly, did the Cobb-could've-if-he-wanted-to bit for well over a year on rsbb, then admitted he was trolling the crowd.
   27. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:44 PM (#4377426)
-
   28. dr. scott Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:48 PM (#4377428)
I'm pretty sure I could've done it if I wanted to, as soon as I find out was "it" is, and what "is" really means.
   29. Steve Treder Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4377430)
I'm pretty sure I could've done it if I wanted to, as soon as I find out was "it" is, and what "is" really means.

All of us could have done it if we'd wanted to. It's the one and only qualification for the Old Farts Club. All ages welcome!

   30. bobm Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:06 PM (#4377438)

The day Ty Cobb hit three home runs
May 15, 2012
By David Schoenfield | ESPN.com [...]

In Charles C. Alexander's biography of Cobb, he cites a story of Cobb sitting in the dugout before the game and telling a sportswriter, "I'll show you something today. I'm going for home runs for the first time in my career."

See? Cobb could have hit 40 or 50 home runs, just like Ruth. Alexander writes, "He had ... made his point: There were different ways to play baseball. He still loved the old game, still preferred most of the time to 'nip' at the ball, as Walter Johnson had once described his hitting style. But he could also clout with the musclemen when he chose."

You know what? I think the whole notion is a bunch of rubbish. The quote that Alexander cites comes not from a contemporaneous account, but from a 1961 article in The Sporting News that ran a few months after Cobb died. The story was told by Sid Keener, a former sportswriter and then the 73-year-old director of the Hall of Fame. You don't think that perhaps a little myth-making was at work here?

Aside from that, there are two other major loopholes in this legend.

Ruth first cracked the 50-homer barrier in 1920. Why did Cobb wait until 1925 -- when he was 38 years old -- to show he could "clout with the musclemen" if he wanted? There's also the fact that after that five-homer outburst, Cobb hit just seven home runs the remainder of the season, finishing with 12 to match his career-best.

Why did he suddenly stop hitting home runs? The Tigers won those two games in St. Louis, scoring 25 runs. Cobb didn't homer again until June 1, even though the Tigers went just 13-12 in games he played. From July 12 through Aug. 22, the Tigers went 8-16 in games Cobb played and he went homerless. Surely, a few home runs may have helped the Tigers win another game or two, no?

Look, I'm sure if Cobb had arrived in the major leagues in 1920 he would have adopted more easily to the modern game and hit a few more home runs. He was a big guy for his era -- 6-foot-1 -- and had extra-base power. But in the end, this tale doesn't add up. Ty Cobb had a great game -- or a great two games. But the idea that he could have matched Ruth's power approach is absurd, as ridiculous as those who suggest Ichiro could hit more home runs if only he wanted to. [Emphasis added]


http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/24437/the-day-ty-cobb-hit-three-home-runs
   31. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4377443)
I'm pretty sure I could've done it if I wanted to, as soon as I find out was "it" is, and what "is" really means.

Well, Clara Bow had the it, and Bill Clinton can tell you all about the is. It's on first and is is rounding third and heading for home.

I once hit .520 in high school and .600 in a DC sandlot league that had at least one future Major Leaguer and several minor leaguers. I'm sure if I'd stuck with it I could've hit .680 in AAA and who knows what in Japan, as long as they didn't make me eat fish.
   32. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:02 AM (#4377477)
I once got the game winning hit in the championship game in little league, after not getting a hit all year (right field, last player in. I don't think I had swung at a pitch all year). Like Ichiro, I must have decided I could do it.
   33. BDC Posted: February 28, 2013 at 08:13 AM (#4377502)
Thanks, bob m! The answer to this rhetorical question:

Why did he suddenly stop hitting home runs?


at least per the myth, is that Cobb "had made his point," as Alexander says: much like a prestige writer suddenly cranking out a bestseller (the Autobiography of Alice B Toklas comes to mind, as well as a short story idea: Ty Cobb visits Gertrude Stein to discuss aesthetics …) After you show you can do it, you go back to the more refined style of play.

Nobody can discuss aesthetics like Ichiro, so I look forward to some sort of colloquium after his inevitable 3-HR game this year.
   34. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 28, 2013 at 08:38 AM (#4377516)
I love pretty much all of the memes of BBTF (Behold! excepted I supposse). One of the reasons I loiter here.
   35. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4377590)
[26] Good point. To his credit, he took his lambasting like a man (after a bit of argument) and became a worthy poster from then on.
   36. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4377598)
I hate it when guys like Chris Truby & Albert Belle & Bitter Mouse loiter here for the memes.
   37. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4377603)
The thing that has always struck me about the Cobb story is that even if it's true, why is it put forth as a positive story for Cobb? If he could really just choose to hit home runs, and moreover could do so at such a phenomenally high rate, he was stupid not to so choose.
   38. tfbg9 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4377609)
There's a Cobb story I semi-remember that featues him in CF as a player-manager. Ruth was at the plate. Cobb pulled an elaborate ruse on Ruth to trick him
into looking at strike three, using a fake IBB Ruth set-up, going thru 3 pitchers to do so, and a lot of fake rage, "if I tell you to %$^&ing; walk this big
gorilla, you damned well are gonna walk him. Unnerstand bush?" Something like that.

After Ruth looked helplessly at strike 3, bat on shoulder, Cobb supposedly rolled around on the outfield grass, cackling.

Anybody else hear of this tale?
   39. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4377615)
Bitter Mouse loiter here for the memes

Sounds like a handle change is in order!
   40. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4377624)
Weisberg, if I remember correctly, did the Cobb-could've-if-he-wanted-to bit for well over a year on rsbb, then admitted he was trolling the crowd.

I remember the trolling well, but not the revelation.

Speaking of rsbb trolls, whither Roger L. Maynard?

Cordially, as always.
   41. WillYoung Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4377625)
If Nomar Garciaparra had been there, he would have saved the Ichiro meme, and let the Ty Cobb one drown.
   42. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4377627)
Bitter Mouse loiter here for the memes.

Behold! A new BTF meme!
   43. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4377655)
Anybody else hear of this tale?

I've heard this before, but with "some player", not Ruth. Basically it goes like this:

- Cobb walks to the pitcher's mound to pretend to tell the pitcher to IBB the batter. Instead tells the pitcher to groove a fastball. Cobb goes back out to CF.

- Pitcher puts a strike right down the middle. Cobb goes nuts, runs in, yells at the pitcher, brings in a reliever, goes back to CF.

- New pitcher puts a strike right down the middle. Cobb goes ballistic, runs in, screams at the pitcher, brings in a reliever, screams at the new guy, goes back to CF.

- Newer pitcher throws strike three right down the middle.

No clue whether this story had ever been verified.
   44. tfbg9 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4377659)
@43-Yes, that's more or less it, except as I remember it, the batter was Ruth, and the version I semi-recall has Cobb doing the Snoopy Dance
in CF after its pull-off, laughing his butt off, etc.
   45. AROM Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:40 PM (#4377670)
When was the rule implemented that a new pitcher had to face at least one batter?

If that rule was not in effect in 1925, Retrosheet should have a box score showing a reliever who did not complete 1 BFP.
   46. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4377671)
Well, a pitcher has to complete at least one at-bat, so it doesn't quite work as you're telling it. As I heard it, Ruth had a 3-2 count, and Cobb ran in to very theatrically tell the pitcher and catcher to just complete the IBB. The catcher stands wide of the box and everything, then the pitcher throws one down the middle.

No idea whether that one is true, either.
   47. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4377673)
Ty Cobb's Life Unlived.
   48. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4377676)
If that story is true, and if Cobb were really transcendently brilliant, he would not have preened. It might have worked another time. Real Machiavellian players don't give away their secrets.
   49. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4377680)
Sounds like a handle change is in order!


Done!

I hate it when guys like Chris Truby & Albert Belle & Bitter Mouse loiter here for the memes.


LOL
   50. smileyy Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4377702)
If he could really just choose to hit home runs, and moreover could do so at such a phenomenally high rate, he was stupid not to so choose.


I think you've captured the myth and mystique of baseball right there.

Historians might know better than I -- was there an environmental shift (bats, balls, stadia, lighting, pitching style) that made a flyball/HR swing more effective in the 20s than it had been earlier? I recall hearing tales of prohibitions on uppercut swings. If true, were they grounded in truth or faulty conventional wisdom?
   51. tfbg9 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4377720)
If that story is true, and if Cobb were really transcendently brilliant, he would not have preened. It might have worked another time. Real Machiavellian players don't give away their secrets.


Well, perhaps he really wanted to make an as$ out of the Babe. I can see Cobb gloating on occasion, like he did when he drove his shiney new Chalmers around and around the streets outside of the ballpark, honking the horn and rubbing his MVP in all the other players' faces, years earlier.

Wait, don't tell me this one's apocryphal, as well?

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