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 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.

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 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:

    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.

    • It doesn't have to be "long term" – two months will MORE than cover it.

      And fine – his performance WAS against the Blue Jays – it was still 7 hits, or, if you prefer, as many hits as Alex had strikeouts. For the most part, Alex was facing the same team. For that matter – I don't know who you DO like – but it was also 4 more hits than Cano got, and SEVEN more than Granderson. Both "young" and "in their prime."

      No need to discount his performance yesterday – not unless everyone else on the team performed to the same level. (on my stream, they didn't)

      • Two months? I'm not sure I would count on it for two more games based on recent performance.

        I said nothing about the quality (or lack of same) of the opposition or Alex Rodriguez or Cano or Granderson or age or most of what you wrote about in your reply. I don't know where you're getting any of that from other than a desperate attempt to make a point (you did not succeed by the way – seems to be par for the course with you).

        And I didn't discount his performance yesterday I merely cautioned against reading too much into it.

        • Guess its mutual; since you made the crack about Beckett and batting practice, I jumped to the conclusion that you were disparaging yesterday's opponent. Words can indeed obscure clarity.

        • but who DO you like? Because to me (read the blog a lot, but don't comment much) it seems like you're just an angry kind of person. Maybe even the type of person who thinks that if the Yankees don't reach the post season or win a world series the entire season was a failure and people should be fired. Ichiro did do well yesterday (both on offense AND defense with that 2 out catch with the bases loaded) and is obviously an improvement on defense over Jones and Ibanez, so I guess my question is

          • instead of griping about how much you dislike Ichiro (and your personal feelings do not come off as an aside, but rather the core impetus of your argument), what do you think should've been done to replace the speed and defense of Gardner?

            Also, I'd really like to know what you dislike about Gardner? Is it the fact that, on a team that is stacked with hard-hitting, slow-moving aged powerhouses, his ability to steal and cover nearly half of the outfield in his position to distracting? Is it so wrong for the Yankees to have one or two people who can actual distract pitchers while on the bases and perform above a mediocre level in the outfield?

          • P.S. I'm glad you're not going to get carried away by yesterday's performance since, I'm pretty sure, almost no one is, we're just happy to see how well he did. I'm also pretty certain that even if he gets another 30 hits, 10 steals, and a couple of homers thrown in over the next 14 games (heck, let's even say he has an amazing post season performance with a BA around .400) that you'd still not be carried away. Please share if anything has, in fact, carried you away this season!

          • Always the sign of a someone with a valid point. Can you at least honor me with one answer; who is your favorite player on the team right now (excluding Jeter and Cano, not necessarily because they're your favorites, but because I'd rather know about your opinions of everyone else)?

            And, I understand this may be too much to bother with, but why am I silly? Because I don't have utter disdain for Ichiro?

          • Good questions. I'm curious about the anti-Ichiro stance. Me, I love his game, always have. He's not what he was but I'd take 100 Ichiros before one Andruw or Ibanez.

          • And just to add roadrider, I'm really not trying to bash any point, which tends to happen to often in online forums. It's more that I just don't understand why, beyond personal reasons (which are legit and I wouldn't try and argue), you dislike Ichiro so much? I think Jones and Ibanez both did more than we could've hoped for this year in Gardners absence, but they're not producing at this point, Ichiro is, and we got him for next to nothing!

          • Alright pal. I'm so terribly sorry that my job required more attention than your demand for a reply to your harangue. It's quite simple – they pay me and you don't (and couldn't afford to). Now that it's off hours I guess I can waste some of my personal time in responding to your interrogation.

            As to why I dislike Suzuki I'm pretty sure I wrote something like this

            I do not propose to revisit that debate here.


            in my original post.

            Make that, "I'm ceratin I wrote exactly that". So much for that question.

            As to why you're "too silly to bother with" it has to do with

            1) your presumptuous "psychoanalysis" of me

            Because to me (read the blog a lot, but don't comment much) it seems like you're just an angry kind of person.

            Really? Based on what Dr. subwayrider? Where did you do your training in psychotherapy? And when did I ever say anything in any post of mine you've ever read that justifies the next statement?

            even the type of person who thinks that if the Yankees don't reach the post season or win a world series the entire season was a failure and people should be fired.

            I'll help you out because 1) I'm a nice guy (really) and 2) it's a trick question. Never!

            2) Just as much as you question the motivation behind my post I have to question the motivation of your reply (and with far more justification). People regularly crap all over guys like Jeter, Cano, A-Rod, Swisher and Granderson in this and other Yankee blogs because they don't bat 1.000 with RISP or something like that yet I've never seen you or anyone else react so violently to any of those posts as you've reacted to mine. Yet a guy who has been on the team for less than 2 months and is now a marginal player at best (last night notwithstanding) inspires such a foaming-at-the-mouth reaction that you couldn't even take the time to compose it and had to reply twice to your own post.

            3) How do you go from my saying that I wasn't Gardner's biggest fan to saying I disliked him? As I've said in many posts on this and other sites, I do like Gardner and I think he adds a nice complement to the Yankees' slugging game but 1) I simply don't value what he brings as highly as some people and 2) Gardner is barely a league average offensive performer and his defensive numbers are boosted by the lack of competition at his position (he would be rated above average but not stellar as a CF). If you don't like hearing it from me, Mike Axisa at RAB has the same opinion (and also shares my general opinion about Suzuki's performance as a Yankee).

            I have no idea how the Yankees should have replaced Gardner but I would have preferred a stronger bat for a corner OF position and I would have moved more aggressively to do so way before the trade deadline. I would not have traded for Suzuki because his name and past deeds would cloud the issue of evaluating his performance on its merits (or lack of same) which is precisely what I see happening now.

            You know, if you had taken the time to read and understand what I wrote you would see that I merely tried to provide some perspective on Suzuki's performance last night and I disclosed my personal bias (which I was not obligated to do) and explained how I was making an effort to accept him for the sake of team despite my personal feelings about him (he just hit a homer – he is making this difficult!).

            So I guess the short answer of why I considered you too silly to bother with is the lack of perspective and comprehension you displayed as well as the presumptuousness of your demand for a response.

            Well, now I've responded. And BTW my favorite Yankee is Nick Swisher. Why? Because he appears to genuinely enjoy playing the game.

          • Roadrider – I seriously was not trying to level a personal attack at you and I'm sorry if I assumed too much (I was responding to an online comment, so assumptions are kind of all I had), but I was more reacting to what I see constantly coming out of the NY sports media and fan comments from people who hate the idea of anythign but a home run hitting, constantly winning Yankees team that has become something completely different from when I started watching them as a kid in the 90's. I also didn't mean to come off as demanding of an answer (I really don't think I did, but maybe it came off that way).

          • This is generally why I read blogs like this and Pinstripe Alley (now bible) and don't comment, because I guess I did what everyone on comment boards does and reacted to what I thought was a generally negative train of thought (once again, reacting to constant complaints about the team from every direction). The worst part about your answer was that (besides the fact that I like Ichiro on a base level and enjoy seeing him in place of the ailing Jones and Ibanez duo) I tend to agree with everything your saying!

          • The Gardner thing was once again me assuming you disliked him like I know a lot of fans do because of his lack of offensive power and I happen to love watching his speed on the bases and in the field (especially after watching Jones and Ibanez trundle around in a dazed fashion all year). I asked the favorite Yankee question (I'll admit, it was a dubious way to try and get psychological profile) to see if you'd say someone like Granderson or Teixeira and be part of the power-loving crowd. Funnily enough you named my favorite player too and for the same reason (plus, though his OBA is down this year, I love a player who can display patience at the plate instead of trying to jack everything he sees out of the park).

            I hope you understand that I didn't mean for that to come of as a personal attack and really don't want to go head to head (particularly when we seem to agree, though maybe not on Suzuki). Let's just hope for both our sakes that Suzuki's performance continues and helps us go for 6 in row tonight! I will assume nothing from now on, except the possiblity that you ride roads!

          • Please don't kill me by the way, I have no idea how to post one long comment. It kept telling me I needed to break it into shorter posts, ergo here I am replying to my own post over and over

          • FWIW, I can't stand watching Ichiro hit, no matter the result. No particular reason, other than that it just drives me crazy to watch it.

  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.

    • Wise has an .800 OPS with the White Sox, which is better than Ichiro and his play there has been worth 1.0 rWAR, again better than Ichiro. Wise has kept his career going due to fast starts and slow fades. This year, he had two fast starts with two teams. All that said, he's had a fine season and your point is valid. At the time, he was a victim of a roster crunch and the Yankees felt that a DFA for him was their best roster option for then and for the future.

      • Its too bad that the bullpen crunch came, forcing the team to give roster spots to guys like Lowe. It had to be done, no doubt, but it sure would have been nice if we could have kept Wise instead of filling holes with retread pitchers.

        I know – wishes and horses…

      • The other thing that Wise move did was give him the opportunity to be picked up by another team that could perhaps give him more playing time than he would have gotten staying on with the Yankees.

  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.

    • Congratulations! I think you just set a new world's record for logical fallacies and evidence-free assertions in one posting.

  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.… 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.

  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.