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Whats your call with Ichiro

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Whats your call with Ichiro

Postby rib217 » Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:54 pm

Pathetically slow start for someone who once posted .372, i read an article yesterday where the author said he feels pitchers have figured him out and its pretty much the end of his reign. How does everyone else feel about that. I can't bring myself to bench him, yesterday was the first time he produced anything really!
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Postby hooligan1 » Thu Apr 20, 2006 8:11 pm

Way too early to bench someone of Ichiro's caliber. He is in an early season slump, albeit a pretty bad one. I still think he's an elite hitter and will return to his normal form at some point. Not sure about the comment about him being "figured out". Seems as if this was going to happen, it would have happened after a year and a half or so, not after five seasons. I think Ichiro owners simply have to ride this out, or conversely, might be a good time to try to buy low on him from a frustrated owner.
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Postby tmlfan4ever » Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:54 am

chill out. Same thing happens most years. Take a look at his career average in april and may.... its NOT very good. Well below 300 at least. He has 6 steals too and a homer so dont bench him. He'll be hot again soon.
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Re: Whats your call with Ichiro

Postby JohnGris » Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:25 am

rib217 wrote:Pathetically slow start for someone who once posted .372, i read an article yesterday where the author said he feels pitchers have figured him out and its pretty much the end of his reign. How does everyone else feel about that. I can't bring myself to bench him, yesterday was the first time he produced anything really!

Although I haven't read it, the logic of that article as you summarize it doesn't fly.

This isn't a guy coming off his rookie season. He's hit over .300 now for 5 years straight, every year he's been in the league. It doesn't take 6 years to figure batters out. If they were gonna do it, it would have been long ago.

He'll hit .300 again this year...if it's truly gonna be an off year for him, it will be .280s or .290s at the very least. But remember, all it takes is 2 or 3 more good games this early in the season and his average is back to respectability. And he's gonna get loads of steals and runs for you no matter what. I think it's a bad idea to jump to conclusions and bench him. ;-D

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Postby sj2k » Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:23 am

Worst case senerio, remeber jeter back a few years ago, he started 0-32 or something, didn't hit over .200 for the first month, finished hitting close to, if not over, .300. This is not the time to panick
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Postby The Loveable Losers » Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:02 pm

I recently posted a long article about Chase Utley and while the numbers don't look nearly as rosy for Ichiro as they did for Chase they're still not bad. They certainly don't indicate that he's been 'figured out'.

First of all Ichiro is a unique player that 'breaks the rules' as far as standard expectations go. He makes his living by getting on base at far above the 30% clip on balls put into play that one would normally expect from a player. His yearly BABIP (batting average on balls in play) are as follows:
2001 - 0.371
2002 - 0.347
2003 - 0.333
2004 - 0.401
2005 - 0.319
Career through 2005 - 0.355
2006 - 0.254

The fact that he had a 3 year down trend followed by a monster year and then another down year indicates to me that the league hasn't figured him out...but he's walking a fine line as far as foot speed and bat skill goes to be able to do what he's doing. It's clear to anyone watching the game that Ichiro definitely has special abilities (speed/bat control) that allow him to consistantly do better than .300 for BABIP. However he's no spring chicken and since a lot of his BABIP ability is tied to speed (beating out ground balls that he places to the left side of the infield) we could see him regress in this sooner than other hitters might regress in their abilities. On the other hand, his BABIP this season of 0.254 is terribly low and indicates very bad luck thusfar.

Ichiro has always been excellent at not wasting an ab with a strikeout. Here is his yearly breakdown of k/ab:
2001 - 7.66%
2002 - 9.58%
2003 - 10.16%
2004 - 8.95%
2005 - 9.72%
Career through 2005 - 9.20%
2006 - 13.04%

These numbers indicate to me that Ichiro fluctuates very little on this number over the course of a full season. Once pitchers had good scouting reports on him in 2002 he has k'd between 8.95% and 10.16% - a very low number. However, all players can slump and that's what Ichiro is doing right now - he's slumping. With the skill required to hit the way he does I would think it's much easier for him to get into these type of slumps...some time when I have time I might look to see if Ichiro is more 'streaky' than most hitters but my gut feeling is that we would find that to definitely be the case. That said, even at 13.04% that's still not that much of a difference. Even if he kept this up we're talking about right around 26 more k's for the year which would equate to about 9 or 10 hits at his career BABIP of .355. He's slumping but it's not *that* bad of a slump...the big problem is that when he has put the ball in play he's been unlucky (.254 BABIP this year versus his .355 BABIP career average).

For those that think Ichiro is hacking at slop though the numbers don't bear that out. Here is his yearly career k/bb ratios (the higher the number the worse he's doing):
2001 - 1.77
2002 - 0.91
2003 - 1.92
2004 - 1.29
2005 - 1.38
Career through 2005 - 1.35
2006 - 1.13
As you can see, he's actually doing better in 2006 than in any year since 2002 in this regard. He just *looks* like he's hacking at slop because when he swings and misses he just ends up looking stupid - it's a side effect of swinging with all his weight on the front foot. If you take a big cut and miss (a la Adam Dunn) you look like you're swinging for the fences. If you do a pirouette like Ichiro you just look overmatched.

Finally there are some numbers that are BETTER this year than in the past. I'll put all 3 numbers together here...the first on each line is the stolen base % (which is slightly down this year). The second is the % of attempts per time on base. The last is the % of steals per time on base.
2001 - 80.00%, 26.52%, 21.21%
2002 - 67.39%, 17.16%, 11.57%
2003 - 80.95%, 17.87%, 14.47%
2004 - 76.60%, 15.51%, 11.88%
2005 - 80.49%, 17.15%, 13.81%
Career through 2005 - 77.24%, 18.79%, 14.51%
2006 - 75.00%, 34.78%, 26.09%

These numbers are INSANE. It's definitely a small sample size so it's very likely (make that extremely likely) that these numbers will revert to career averages. However, what these numbers would mean if they held true would be about an 80% increase in stolen bases on the year. Assuming about 30 stolen bases in a given year for Ichiro this would translate to a 54 steal season if he got on base at his normal clip. We can only hope Ichiro or the M's management has made a conscious decision to set him loose on the basepaths a little more this year. Given Beltre's sb exploits to this point in the season that might actually be the case.

So to sum things up...Ichiro is playing a bit worse than he usually does. He's in a minor slump made even worse by a string of bad luck to go along with it. But the stolen base numbers and the plate discipline (k/bb) show that he still has the skills necessary to succeed and he most certainly hasn't been figured out. What's there to figure out - he hits the ball where they ain't. You can't stop that - you can only hope to contain it. ;)
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Postby johnsamo » Fri Apr 21, 2006 7:29 pm

minor slump, no worries.... Based on his age, I don't see him declining much just yet and 6 steals tells me he still has his legs. Might be a good time to try and steal him in a trade for some guys who are less talented but hot right now.
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Postby JohnGris » Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:13 pm

That's a great post Lovable Losers. Only slightly more in-depth than mine above (you wouldn't believe the research I had to do to determine that he batted over .300 for 5 years straight), but I very much enjoy reading your analysis. Thanks for posting.

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Postby Chip1010 » Sat Apr 22, 2006 2:09 am

I don't think you can "figure out" a hitter like Ichiro. He's so fast that even if he's not placing the ball perfectly, he's still going to get infield hits, steals and runs. He's getting a little up there in age, but he's still valuable. You may be kicking yourself for taking him so high, but there's no way you drop him or trade him low. He's got nowhere to go but up.

P.S. He's leading the AL in steals and is seventh in runs scored, despite his piss-poor average. Stick it out.
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Re: Whats your call with Ichiro

Postby number9 » Sat Apr 22, 2006 12:28 pm

rib217 wrote:Pathetically slow start for someone who once posted .372, i read an article yesterday where the author said he feels pitchers have figured him out and its pretty much the end of his reign. How does everyone else feel about that. I can't bring myself to bench him, yesterday was the first time he produced anything really!

This line is repeated ad nauseum every time he's in a slump. As LL summed up, I don't think it's time yet, not for a while.

Amazingly he's still scoring runs and stealing bases despite the horrible average (which directly translates into horrible OBP and OPS in Ichi's case). I did trade for him recently with my spare parts, so I am optimistic ;-D
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