Ichiro as Yankee: 5th-Best Season of His Career
ROY season, 262-hit season, two others ... then this one


Q.  What if I want to argue that 220 plate appearances in NYY is a small sample size?

A.  Then Dr. D would recommend that you take a stats class and learn what a sample is.

;- ) and then he would have a question for you:  "Suppose that Ichiro had flopped in NYY, batting .199.  Would you have called that a small sample, or would you say yeah, that's what I thought?"

Can't have it both ways.  He left town.  If he could have failed, he could have succeeded.  Man up.  His performance in New York matches the best ones of his career.


Q.  Okay, I would have declared victory if he had hit .242 as a Yankee.  So I'll man up.  Suppose we do take his NYY numbers as indicative.  How good is he still?

A.  He was batting .324 / .346 / .466 before Saturday's game (two hits from the #2 slot, a single and double and SB, thanks for asking).  His BABIP as a Yankee is .343, which is below his career average of .347.

Had you noticed that his infield hit % is back to career norms, 15%?  His grounder rate is back to 2.50, and his Yankee line drive rate would be the highest of his career.

Look.  He went to the Yankees, got the pop back in his step, and he's slashing the ball all over the park.  

I know that you've been disgusted with Ichiro for two years, LrKrBoi29, and it's a bitter pill to swallow that it was the Mariners' fault.  Give it up.  He was bored in Seattle.  Most of the scouts in baseball, from what we heard, thought it very likely that he'd bounce back once he got out of here.  That's why the Yankees went for him.  If they'd just wanted a glove, there are plenty of those who don't make $18 million a year.


Q.  He's 100% the same player as ever?

A.  No, his bat has slowed just a bit.  Here's a 5-minute video of him, slashing the ball through the SS hole, guiding it up the middle, screaming it to RF ... he's maybe not quite as quick as he was in 2005, but the difference is verrrrry subtle.  Watch the vid.  He's wallowing in the pennant race.

But he may be only one notch down.  One notch down from "top 5 player of the decade" would still be "impact leadoff hitter."  Certainly he is a better player right now than any Mariner other than Jaso.

He's lost a tick with the bat, but .... nobody EVER took into account that he was the only great hitter ever to play his career in Safeco Field.  Did you ever hear anybody say that really he was a much better hitter than his slash line?  When he was hitting .330 and the next guy on the roster was hitting .260?

He'll have fewer infield hits as an ex-Mariner.  He'll also have far more HR's and doubles.  Ichiro hits the ball hard -- just not hard enough to hit homers in Safeco.


Q.  To which Mariner season does his Yankee time compare?

A.  Back in 2005, Ichiro hit a lot of HR's at the expense of BB's.  He was .303 / .350 / .436 in [Safeco and road], an OPS+ of 113.  Now he's .324 / .346 / .466 in [Yankee and road], with an OPS+ of 118.

New Ichiro -- older and a fugitive from Safeco -- will be a leadoff hitter with fewer BB's but more gap power.  In NYY his power numbers are 30+ doubles and 12-15 homers per year, pro-rated.


Q.  A lot of outfielders hit better than 118 OPS+ for $18 million.

A.   Kenny Lofton's career OPS+ was 107.  Lou Brock's was 109.  You don't judge a leadoff hitter by his OPS+.  He's there for his impact in a close game against a tough pitcher.

Ichiro's 118 OPS+ doesn't compare to cleanup-hitting OF's.  But it does compare to Ichiro's career OPS+ of 113, and given his skill set 113 was HOF level.   Again, Ichiro had a top-5 WAR for 2001-10 at that 113 level.


Q.  Predictions for Ichiro's contract this winter?

A.  SSI predicts that saber pundits will value him at one level, and that real GM's will value him at a different level -- one much, much higher than that.

Hopefully it's not in Seattle.  He deserves to rack up some stats in his old age.  I'm hoping Boston or New York.  Wouldn't surprise me a skosh to see him nab a 2- or 3-year deal to play RF for the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.

He gave this org a whale of a lot.  I'm looking forward to watching him light pitchers up in the playoffs.



M's Watcher's picture

Ichiro's success in NY reminds me of a certain tall pitcher's success after he was deemed unworthy of a contract extension in Seattle. Sure, Ichiro is older than Randy at that time, but maybe everyone needed a change of scenery. BTW, I still wish we still had Randy through the rest of his career.


He's kind of the prototypical Yankee veteran. A couple of notches below his peak anywhere else but given the makeup of that club, only a tick down there. The club is so deep that they don't need to rely on him to drive the offense. They can sit him against bad matchups, keep him rested and reap the results. They can also pay him without hampering their roster. Tough for me to see him playing out the end of his career anywhere else.


Some things to consider before atrtrriuting "all" of the Ichiro resurgence to simple interest in playing.
When Ichiro got to NY his line was .261/.288/.353 (.642)
He began his NY stay with a 12-game hitting streak .... BUUUUT ... it was exactly one hit in all 12 games. After ending the streak, his OPS line was down to .259.286/.352 (.638)
From July 23 to August 10 started and played EVERY game to its conclusion ... and he was no better than he was in Seattle.
But, beginning on August 11th, he started getting rest. Oh, they used him in every game ... but he was used as an 8th or 9th inning sub in 3 of 4 games, then after 6 starts, another off-the-bench appearance. His performance improved a little in this early phase. His OPS gradduly rose to .657 by Sept 3rd. From September 4th - Sept 16th, he actually got only 4 starts and 8 off-the-bench appearances. His OPS was up to .662 by then. He actually got 2 full days off with no play at all on September 17 and 18.
That's when he went crazy and put together a 5 game string of with hit totals of 3,4,2,2,3. That streak took his OPS up to .705 on the season.
BEFORE the 2012 season began, I was arguing that the one way to extend Ichiro's productive career was for him to get regular rest, (just fyi, he's come off the bench in 2 of the last 4 games the Yankees have played).
So ... did Seattle kill Ichiro's production? Absolutely. The complete unwillingness to actually give the guy REGULAR time off, to allow his aging body time to FULLY recover from the physical toil of the game killed any chance of getting an .800 OPS Ichiro.
Can he repeat that in 2013? If he gets regular rest, yes it is possible. This is not rocket science. It is medical science. If the body is unable to repair muscular damage between strenuous athletic endeavors, then the damage accumulates. At 25 or 30, these guys can recover fully. As they approach 40, the act of pushing the body to its physical limits, (which is mandatory to catch up to 92 mph heat or a slicing line drive to the OF), at some point becomes too much for the body to fully repair in 24 hours. THAT is the actual culprit behind most of age related decline.
Go and look up the Hank Aaron game totals after age 36.
Of course, in addition to the physical, there is the mental. Actually not getting on the field for two days, when you are used to playing 161 games to completion your entire life ... oh, that's likely to have an impact on hunger, too. It's a win-win if the player doesn't react by sulking. It will certainly be interesting to see where Ichiro goes in 2013 ... and how he is deployed. In the end, there is only one thing that is 100% certain. He is continuing to get older.


The Mariners powerflushing the Big Unit, that still hurts about 80% as much as it did on the day of.
Not only a top-5 lefty of baseball history, but as a completely separate issue, a unique sports presence and one who brought magic sparkle dust to the stadium every time he walked out there...
We just, flat, passed on it.  Oh well, our bad.


And here you are getting his very best again.  Am sure the M's would have loved to have done it, but you know how internal politics are.  New broom sweeps clean.
Swisher's leaving RF, right?  Anybody heard what the talk is or isn't about Ichiro returning to NYY?


Carp was supposed to give them another OF bat that would allow them to play Ichiro at DH or rest him.
With both Carp and Guti out of the equation, they pretty much just stuck Ichiro out there every day with predictable results.  They saw what added rest/DH could do for Ichiro in 2011, but they abandoned ship in 2012.

BrooklynNY's picture

I'm a lifelong new yorker and yankee fan and i've got to be honest here. without ichiro i don't think the yankees would be in the position they're in right now. he brought a whole new dimension to the team that they haven't had for many, many years. he hits all over the place, runs like a deer, has an arm like a cannon and he's humble to boot; that's rare for a yankee. to see him on a daily basis and watch the complete ball player that he is makes me rethink what greatness really is. we are lucky to have him for however long he's here.


Enjoy him, man. He's really one of a kind. You should have seem him ten years ago - it's the version you are seeing + 50 points on the batting average. He was a living terror.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.