So, How'd It Work Out for Ichiro?
BABIP is .289 in New York


Q.  Is Ichiro still hitting in New York?

A.  The last two weeks have slowed down quite a bit for him; he's hitting around .200 with only one extra-base hit.


Q.  Is he playing with more energy?

A.  He is, yes.  His swings at pitches outside the zone are way down in New York.  His contact on pitches outside the zone (OOZ) are also down, leading to less cheap contact.  His SLG is way up.  His batting EYE is way down.

In other words, it's a demonstrable fact that he is being more selective since he left the Mariners, and is letting the bat fly when he gets his pitch.  He hit a couple of early homers and he is giving it all he's got, trying to get his pitch and do something with it.

Whatever he's doing now, this is the best he's capable of at the age of 38.


Q.  And how good is that?

A.  Here's the slash line comparison:

2011 M's .272 .310 .335 86
2012 M's .261 .288 .353 82
2012 NYY .273 .299 .402 87

You might glance at the OPS+ and figure that he's the same player.  He isn't.  He's stalking pitches, laying off balls outside the zone, and trying to drive the ball.  He never walks any more because he's hitting in a lineup filled with New York Yankees, and his EYE has gone from 0.50 with the M's to 0.20 in New York.  The next time somebody tells you that context doesn't affect the pitches a batter sees, remember Ichiro.  It's a very convincing case study because we've seen Ichiro for 8,000 at-bats.  He never had an 0.20 EYE.  We know who Ichiro is.

Boom, he's a Yankee, he's got an 0.20 EYE.  That's because they'd rather pitch to Ichiro than to Curtis Granderson.  That's all.


Q.  How is his BABIP?

A.  His BABIP as a Yankee is .289; remember how terrible his Safeco splits were this year?   Ichiro's going to run a BABIP of about .300, give or take, in a normal stadium.  Now that his infield hits are gone.  Sigh.

For the next several years, it looks like somebody will get the Luis Polonia version of Ichiro:  hits somewhere around .290, .300, not many walks, a little gap power, score you 80 runs.  Luis Polonia, plus tremendous outfield defense.

That's still a starting player, 2.0, 2.5 WAR as he nears 40 years of age.  But Ichiro could have parlayed his Yamauchi-san influence into a 3/$45M contract in Seattle.  


Q.  Ichiro left money on the table in Seattle?

A.  Gracious of him to do so.  Had Ichiro been part of next spring's equation, a fixture in RF for the next three seasons, the entire future of the ballclub would have looked entirely different.  And it would have been a situation that concerned shot-callers well above Zduriencik's pay grade.

Tell me something.  Would you do that?  Would you leave your company if your job were tenured, leave (say) $150,000 a year for jobs that would pay $50,000 to $75,000, because you knew you were overpaid and you didn't feel stimulated by your work?  Ichiro doesn't have a spot with the Yankees next year.

No huge problems, now.  You're the boss's golfing partner, let's say.  You're comfortable and you're raking in big bucks.  Would you leave your job for the reasons Ichiro left his?

Ichiro has brought the spirit of a samurai from the first day he helped bring that 116-win season to Seattle.  It didn't quite require harakiri, but in trekking off into the east with dignity, he has done his Seattle nobles a final, and decisive, service of honor.




Not sure how you figure Ichiro to be a 2.0 WAR guy going forward, Doc.
His 1.4 in Seattle this year was divided 0.2 bat and 0.8 glove.
His -0.2 in NY is divided 0.1 bat and -0.5 glove.
I think it is important to note that his defensive WAR from 2009-2011 (per bbref) were:
Was it nice that he pushed hard defensively in his final hurrah with Seattle? Absolutely. But, he is in fact continuing to get older each day. I see no scenario or analysis that is suggestive that he is likely to be a net positive defender for another 2-3 years.
That means ... going forward ... the entirety of his WAR value will come from the plate. He was a 0.7 bat in 2011 and an aggregate 0.3 bat with 20+ games to play this year.
And while I don't quite agree with your conclusions about his eye ... even if I did, the real question is this. Is there any reason to expect it to improve significantly? Ichiro's eye was propped up throughout his career by double digit intentional walks. I completely agree that Ichiro is NEVER going to get a free pass in the context of tne NY lineup - (without the 4 IBBs in Seattle this year, his final Mariner eye would've been 14:40.
Honestly, after an aggregate 0.3 WAR in 2011 ... if he continues his NY pace, he's looking at a final tally of 1.0 or 1.1 WAR this year. Where is he supposed to get the other 1.0 WAR from ... (assuming no additional deterioration due to age)?
My view ... I don't think he's psychologically equipped to deal with a limited role ... getting platooned ... being used routinely as a pinch-hitter. I think his pride simply won't allow that to happen. Barring a serious hot streak in September, I think he returns to Japan for a Griffey-esque farewell tour in 2013. But I certainly don't get where you're penciling him out as a 2.0 to 2.5 guy going forward.

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