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.