In Ichiro's first 10 years as a Mariner, he had the #4 WAR total in baseball. Check out this chart! Only Bonds*, Pujols and ARod were ahead of him. In 4th place with 53.1 WAR, he was miles ahead of the pack. Only 11 players in MLB even had forty WAR during that time.
Norichika Aoki plays exactly Ichiro's game, right down to the swing arc, the slaps through the left side of the infield, etc. But Aoki averages 1.9 WAR per season, not 5.3, so it's easy to think of him as "40% of Ichiro."
The thing is, in the batter's box with a 1-1 count against a tough pitcher, he is a lot closer to 90% of Ichiro than 40%.
Ichiro's hitting advantages had more to do with his blazing speed down to 1B than it had to do with any difference in their ability to cover a tough pitch. Aoki is giving us a last few sips' worth of NPB-style table setting, and how sweet they are. It is intensely pleasant to watch Nori Aoki battle American power pitchers. He has already become, for me, one of the joys of baseball.
Factor in also the idea that --- > Aoki was the early key to DiPoto's systemic "Control the Zone" transition. Your conclusion is inescapable: DiPoto was way, way right about moving for Aoki. SSI thought that it was mostly a stylistic indulgence, a 100 OPS+ bat in left field, but SSI was wrong. DiPoto was just getting there ahead of us.
It was easy to criticize the Miller/Karns trade in a vacuum. But if you watched the M's hitters these first three games, and if you have any grasp at all of what DiPoto's/Servais' idea is this winter, you have to go back and concede that trade in retrospect. It's not reasonable to argue, at this point, that the M's should have kept Miller.
DECLARING VICTORY AFTER 3 GAMES
Mike Blowers is an understated, circumspect man. However, on TV after the Rangers series he and Krueger fell (unconsciously) into an analysis of --- > HOW did the Mariners fix their lineup and bullpen!?
Not whether the M's had fixed anything. The propositions that DiPoto had lengthened the lineup and given us a sound bullpen, those was stipulated. By Blowers and Krueger. After three games.
That wasn't because of the box scores. It would be simply wrong to draw conclusions about 3 games' worth of 174 OPS+ and 175 ERA+, as fans would. But what the major leaguers were seeing, was Strike Zone Control by the end of the M's lineup and the end of their pitching staff. M's pitchers and batters were going up against Texas' best, and winning individual battles all over the place.
The beat writers continue to characterize "C the Z" as not swinging at balls. Nah. The M's OOZ percentage won't be a lot different this year.
It is the idea of taking a pitcher's pitch on 2-0. It's the idea of checking your swing on a 2-strike pitch out of the zone. It's the idea of being ready to really attack a pitch you're looking for, when it shows up (that occurs 1x, or 2x, per game). It means doing something other than going up and "mistake hitting," whaling away hoping for the ball to find your bat.
The NON-stars did this for 1.5 games to start the Texas series, and then Texas' pitching imploded under the pressure.
Somebody (Drayer?) pointed out that the M's bullpen has nobody who can even touch 95 MPH, except Tony Zych. Had you realized how sabermetric DiPoto's bullpen choices were?
Very enjoyable "MLB Tonight" video clip at the Times. They credit Edgar Martinez heavily, and opine that Cano's broken toe last year was more the problem even than his abdominal tear was. With his feet and legs right, he has the "bounce" back in his CG transfer.
Servais (an ex-catcher) says that Montgomery dominated the Rangers.
have a commanding influence on; exercise control over:
"the company dominates the market for operating system software"
be the most important or conspicuous person or thing in:
"the race was dominated by the 1992 champion"
(of something tall or high) have a commanding position over; overlook:
"a picturesque city dominated by the cathedral tower"
early 17th cent.: from Latin dominat- ‘ruled, governed,’ from the verb dominari, from dominus ‘lord, master.’
JEDI MIND TRICKS
The News Tribune has an interview. Excerpts:
"One of my stock statements that I talk about it all the time is: "We’re looking at the best 800 or a thousand players in the world. This is who they are. There is nothing better than what we’re seeing right now.’
"When you break them down— and that’s our job, to break them down — don’t forget to put them back together again. Once you put them back together again, realize the unique qualities that they have, that help you win."
That's one of the most best ways to really understand a starting pitcher, to ask what you think about him after a BAD day. (John Benson roto corollary: which of your two choices at SP had the most tolerable bad year in the last 4 years?)
Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Wade Miley just had games that cast them all in their worst light. Some respected SSI denizens are fretting. My reactions:
- Wow, Felix is back to throwing pitches that start in the zone and break out of it.
- Hisashi Iwakuma doesn't look as tough as he actually is. The gap between his apparent-toughness and real-toughness is from here to the Moon.
- Wade Miley is a machine.
Take it or leave it :- )
DiPoto also had this:
"One of the benefits of inheriting the job," he said, "is the roster that I inherited already had Robby Cano and Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz and Felix (Hernandez).
"You didn’t have to go out and shop in the Merlot aisle. We could go to the frozen food section and pick out the berries that are going to taste good with the wine."
He said he wanted to "raise the floor around" his Stars, to gather superior Scrubs to what Zduriencik had gathered. This meant being sabermetric about ordinary-looking guys who would be "usable" -- to use Vidal Nuno and Joel Peralta rather than J.C. Ramirez and Danny Farquhar. It sounded rather trite, but there it is right in front of us, down there on the green grass of AL ballparks. #13-25 roster players who can defend themselves.
There's a little extra shtick at the D-O-V Mainframe.