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Thursday, December 13, 2012

FanGraphs: Sullivan: Home of the Ichiro Power Swing

Suzuki Work Looms…

After becoming a Yankee, Ichiro hit six dingers in Yankee Stadium, and zero dingers in not-Yankee Stadium.

The home/road split, playoffs included this time:

Home: .913 OPS, 151 plate appearances
Road: .636 OPS, 132 plate appearances

...Not that you needed to be told how easy it is — relatively speaking — to hit a homer to right in New York. But it’s really really easy, relatively speaking. The short porch beckons, and it makes home runs not only of doubles and triples, but also of would-be routine outs.

Yankee Stadium was not built with extending Ichiro’s major-league career in mind, but it could very well serve that purpose, along with all of the other purposes it serves. Ichiro does not have and never has had a power swing capable of launching the baseball 450 feet. He has a power swing capable of launching the baseball 350-400 feet, and Yankee Stadium’s right field is well within reach. In Seattle, maybe it wouldn’t have helped Ichiro very much to try to hit for more power. In New York, there are total bases to be claimed. That ballpark could keep Ichiro productive, and while Ichiro’s used to being productive on his own, I doubt he’d turn down a little help. God knows he was given pretty much zero help in any respect over much of the previous decade.

Ichiro probably can’t just turn himself into a power hitter. In Yankee Stadium, though, he can get the closest, and while that means Ichiro just has to rely on Ichiro on the road, he might be in position to take unique advantage of the home environment. That’s a friendly porch, and now Ichiro knows it. There’s good sense behind this relationship. I don’t know how much Ichiro has left to give to some other ballclub. He might have plenty yet to give to the Yankees.

Repoz Posted: December 13, 2012 at 06:55 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. RollingWave Posted: December 13, 2012 at 07:49 AM (#4323648)
It would be hilarious if Ichiro hits 20-30 bombs or something next year.

Having said that, given murphy's law, that's almost a given he's gonna have a monster year next 1 to 2 season.


   2. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 13, 2012 at 08:46 AM (#4323655)
Ichiro could hit dingers on the road if he wanted to.
   3. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: December 13, 2012 at 09:39 AM (#4323667)
I think Ichiro hits 12-15 homers next season. I think he's going to be a really productive player for the Yankees.
   4. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: December 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4323680)
If you watch him during BP, he can run off several homers in a row pretty effortlessly. I saw him do it last year at U.S. Cellular - looks smooth and the ball really carries off his bat. He could've easily hit 15-20 HR a year in my opinion if he made it a priority.
   5. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: December 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM (#4323687)
Ichiro probably can’t just turn himself into a power hitter


Everyone knows that this is not true.
   6. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4323689)
I don’t know how much Ichiro has left to give to some other ballclub. He might have plenty yet to give to the Yankees.


Is this true? I'm not saying Ichiro isn't likely to be more successful in Yankee Stadium as a left handed hitter but in theory shouldn't all lefties be able to get such a benefit? Is Ichiro uniquely suited to NYS in a way that others would not be? If I were Cashman that .636 road OPS would be a cautionary tale.

Then of course the larger question, would you rather have a player who hits .800/.800 home and road or .900/.700?
   7. PreservedFish Posted: December 13, 2012 at 10:58 AM (#4323706)
Then of course the larger question, would you rather have a player who hits .800/.800 home and road or .900/.700?


Second guy, bench his ass on the road.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: December 13, 2012 at 11:03 AM (#4323715)
I'm not saying Ichiro isn't likely to be more successful in Yankee Stadium as a left handed hitter but in theory shouldn't all lefties be able to get such a benefit?


According to an article I found on the Internet, New Yankee Stadium increases homeruns for left handed batters by 43%. If Ichiro has the coordination to loft fly balls in the general direction of the warning track, but lacks the power to blast them over most fences, he might benefit even more.

So according to my calculations, in a full year we could expect him to hit as many as EIGHT or NINE homeruns!
   9. SG Posted: December 13, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4323718)
Second guy, bench his ass on the road.


The problem is you don't know if that split is indicative of his true skill or just random fluctuation. But yeah, if you know a player has a particular strength or weakness and can deploy him with that in mind it makes him more valuable on a rate basis.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter if you have a home/road split like that for a team's bottom line. If you take an average AL team in 2012 and add an .800 OPS guy batting leadoff they'd project to win about 83.2 games. Ignoring general home field advantage if you gave them a .900 OPS guy in half their games and a .700 OPS in half their games they'd project to win about 83.6.
   10. bookbook Posted: December 13, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4323823)
Ichiro's hype obviously has been a bit silly at times, but the one skill he probably bests any other active player since Tony Gwynn at is bat control. I imagine he can tailor his swing to take advantage of a quirk in his home park--should an exploitable one exist for him--better than anybody. If Yankee stadium presents an opportunity for lefthanded flyballs within the range that Ichiro can hit them, he'll take advantage.

(There was no quirk in Safeco. He benefitted in that his skillset was relatively more valuable in a park that suppressed power production, of course.)
   11. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: December 13, 2012 at 09:43 PM (#4324385)
Carmelo sort of had a very first quarter just now.
   12. Srul Itza Posted: December 13, 2012 at 10:26 PM (#4324406)
How come I didn't see any articles in the off-season about how crappy the Lakers were going to be?

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