How about that Ichiro!

Ichiro now has a triple slash line with the Yankees of .317/.337/.439 good for an OPS of .776 and an OPS+ of 108. Sure, a seven for eight double-header did much to fatten those numbers. But consider also that his seven hits in those two games are two less than the nine hits Andruw Jones has collected since August 1 and only four less than Raul Ibanez has collected since August 1! Ichiro has now played 53 games for the Yankees (some as a defensive replacement) and has 52 hits. Jones has 45 hits in 90 games. Ibanez has 77 hits in 119 games. And yes, all hits are not created equal. Jones and Ibanez have combined for 28 homers. But Ichiro’s slugging percentage with the Yankees is higher than both of those guys for the season.

Yes, Ichiro only has three walks. He’s never been one to take a walk. But his production has certainly helped and according to Baseball-reference.com has added 0.4 rWAR for his efforts since joining the Yankees.  Jones’ entire season has been worth 0.1 rWAR and Ibanez is rated in the negative category. Imagine the Yankees second half without Ichiro. It would be a pretty bleak place, especially in the outfield.

What has been truly fun to watch with Ichiro is his willingness to do whatever he has been asked to do. He long had the reputation in Seattle for being a me-first player. He was the main man over there and once his skills diminished, that became a problem for the Mariners. Since coming to the Yankees, Ichiro has had…fun. His smiles have been large. He seems to get along great with his teammates, and he has played all three outfield positions and batted in whatever position Girardi penciled him in for the day. His willingness to play a secondary role has been key to what he has added to his new team.

Perhaps I am waxing overly poetic here after a two-game performance that practically carried the Yankees on his shoulders. Anybody can have two great games. At this point in the season, any at bats he can take away from Ibanez and Jones are a plus. His defense is much more comforting. He has been a great addition to the New York Yankees and it is a comfort–at least to this observer–to have him on the field.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

32 thoughts on “How about that Ichiro!

  1. Great article. I really am having a hard time figuring out why Girardi ever sits Ichiro. He adds way too much both offensely and defensively to have him on the bench. I like him leading off with Jeter batting second. Swisher doesn't need to be in the two spot.

  2. Go ahead and wax poetic.

    That was the best two-in-a-row performance by a Yankee that I can remember. Really – 7 for 8? If Cano did that, Scotty would be on the phone for a contract extension. If it had been Swisher – he would have had a parade, and likely would have stood at the gate, handing out autographed balls.

    Ichiro just smiled like a kid at Christmas – a feel-good, movie Christmas, at that.

    He nailed it better than I could – "I'm very sad the day is over."

  3. I'm not sure why anyone had an issue with the acquisition. We didn't give up much to get him and in retrospect Gardner's being out of commission exceeded the initial expectation. Ichiro is a rental and a better than decent one at that. Granted the Berkman rental of a few years back looked far uglier IMO (he looked out of shape and unprepared when called on to play first). Ichiro is a role player and the Yankees haven't done a great job at assembling role guys since Torre was manager. Jones and Ibanez haven't been pivotal but both had to step up in Gardner's absence and they both may be running on an empty tank. Nice to see that Ichiro is feeling pumped to play in games that matter.

  4. I was excited about the trade because Ichiro has always been a player I've enjoyed watching. I'm glad he's managed to make it look like such a good move on the Yankees' part.

  5. OK – I was the guy who made the negative comment about the Suzuki acquisition and I have no trouble saying that neither the 2-HR game against batting-practice Beckett or yesterday's performance has changed my mind (much).

    I remember this game from 1968 which, for a a day anyway, rekindled the 1950s and early 1960s for those of us who idolized Mickey Mantle:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA19

    Was it a great game? Sure. Did it mean Mantle had returned to his old form? Sadly, no (although he was still a pretty valuable player in that offense-depressed era).

    Suzuki has, with a couple of notable exceptions, been ordinary to mediocre in his Yankee tenure. Do they need him right now? Yes, they do – because, as you (and many others) have pointed out – the alternatives are even worse, and that's really the only reason they need him. I'd much rather have Brett Gardner back and I'm not really his biggest fan either.

    I do not disguise the fact that I dislike Suzuki and always have and never wanted him on the team I root for even when he was at his best. I do not propose to revisit that debate here. For the time being I am suppressing my dislike for him because I want anyone in a Yankee uniform to do well for the sake of the team (but I might end up making my dentist rich from all the teeth gritting if he keeps doing what he did yesterday).

    Bottom line – I'm not going to get carried away by yesterday's performance. I take it for what it was – a valuable contribution to winning two key games. I'm wouldn't count on it continuing (especially against LHP) and wouldn't from any player who has been in the type of long-term decline that Suzuki has experienced irrespective of my personal feelings about the guy.

  6. What are Dwayne Wise's numbers during the same period? Because Ichiro basically took his roster spot so you have to compare what was gained with what was lost. Just from watching Baseball Tonight it seems like Wise is doing pretty well. But that could be the tornado in a trailer park factor.

  7. Ichiro is having a good night tonight also. Three games and he has been a one man show:) nice call!

  8. The Ichiro haters have a host of usually weak or irrelevant reasons to dislike him, but nobody can doubt that his WAR numbers for the first 12 seasons make him a top-15 player (by that saber-standard) among active players with far fewer prime seasons than most of the competition. If we're gonna use an accountant's preference, I'd go with Runs Created. By that bar as well, Ichiro compare reasonably well to someone like Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs with Boggs being better than both. As for now, you have to be crazy as a calculator to look ONLY at numbers in assessing Ichiro's potential value to a team fighting for a pennant. This 3 game stretch *in and of itself* is enough to justify getting him on the roster, even if his WAR the rest of the way is only 0.00.

  9. Wow, I can't believe what I'm reading here. Can't we just agree to disagree? One of the reasons I enjoy this blog is it's one of a few places where there's usually a intelligent conversation about my favorite team. Please don't let this turn into a ESPN thread, where there's always a bunch of name calling and immature dialogue.

  10. Exhibit A
    Among active players Ichiro is ranked 15th in WAR for a 12 year career. http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/WAR_bat… I think he is now 15th, not 14th.

    Then I cited the Runs Created stat to show that Ichiro's career, while shorter than that of Boggs and Tony Gwynn Sr., falls just short of those comparable hitters' per season numbers. In fact, Ichiro is 18th on the active player for RUNS CREATED list with only 12 years experience, far fewer years than most on that list. http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/RC_acti

  11. Ah that's right, the trolls never like a real match. I call your "Fallacious Logic" and raise you, Fellatious Controverter.

  12. Thank you for that Omario. So .. in other words. The move for Ichiro was not brilliant, but a no-brainer.