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Ichiro Suzuki has been traded to the New York Yankees
July 24, 2012 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Ichiro Suziki has been traded to the New York Yankees

Ichiro Suzuki joined the Seattle Mariners in 2001 and became the most recent player to win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors in the same year. In 2004, he set the MLB record for most hits in a season with 262 hits (More stats at baseball-reference.com). He is considered the must successful Japanese ballplayer to join the MLB.

The trade occurred while the Yankees were in the Seattle to play the Mariners, so it must have been a surreal experience for Seattle fans to see a beloved player don an opponent's uniform and immediately single and steal a base against you in his first at-bat.

Here is an essay on the cultural impact of Ichiro Suzuki.

Jonah Keri of Grantland.com explains what you need to know about the trade, which includes links to "Ichiro's Theme" by Ben Gibbard (frontman for Death Cab for Cutie), Ichiro's laser beam for an arm and much more.

(This is my first post to the blue... I hope I did okay.)
posted by Groundhog Week (66 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by TheCoug at 9:39 AM on July 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ichiro is a player from back in the days when I actually paid ANY attention to baseball (the Jays had fallen from their early 90's hey days, but still weren't the perennial loser team that they are now). I'm surprised to find out that he was actually still in Seattle after all this time.
posted by antifuse at 9:40 AM on July 24, 2012


Here's a graceful farewell from a Mariners fan, although he had some unkind words for the players they're getting in return.
posted by xthlc at 9:40 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


He always cooled very cool, but I don't think I ever really saw him DO anything. Not that people cared when they came out to see him - it's going to be a bit of a blow for the stadium.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on July 24, 2012


You done good.

Ichiro is a class act, falling on his sword to help the Mariners who would have been in a tough spot at the end of the year deciding to sign him as a free agent or not. The Yankees have a lot of experience taking older declining players and getting a good year or two out of them. He is a perfect rental replacement for Brett Gardner.

Well played Mr. Ichiro, Mariner front office and Yankee management.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:42 AM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


/uses nintendo wifi to order beer while sitting up in the nosebleeds and pours one out.
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on July 24, 2012


I was thinking this would be the season this happened-- aging marquee acquisitions are the Yankees' trademark. That said, he's good enough for what they need him for-- he's done at the plate, but he can still run (should he get on base) and he's still one of the defensive elites.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:42 AM on July 24, 2012


Don't be surprised if Ichiro gets on base a lot more - better bats around him mean he may see better pitches.
posted by Mister_A at 9:48 AM on July 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


He always cooled very cool
That's pretty cool.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:51 AM on July 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Gah. LOOKED. What with the warm up excercises and all. And then he'd just end up walking to the next plate.

And then the Mariners would seem like they might have a chance and then lose, every time I went. Still, I mainly go for the game food and the ambience.
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on July 24, 2012


I'm not sure how you do a list of Ichiro quotes without this.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:01 AM on July 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Fuckin' Yankees.
posted by jonmc at 10:03 AM on July 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is "Needless Fuckin' Yankees Post" a legitimate reason to flag? As long as they are in an acquiring mood, is there any chance the MFY's want Josh Beckett?
posted by COD at 10:05 AM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Yankees also acquired $5 million dollars along with Ichiro.
posted by inigo2 at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ichiro is still in the majors?! Oh, I kid. He's owned by 86% of the owners in Yahoo fantasy leagues. ... Unfortunately, the managers in my league are too smart for that.

Is "Needless Fuckin' Yankees Post" a legitimate reason to flag?

Ichiro was a big deal, and his departure from Seattle is fairly significant, but yeah, it's generally a level of sportsfilter below what we usually do.

It's nicely crafted post, but to me, an active baseball fan and fantasy baseball player, I don't care much, and I can't imagine many people here give a rat's ass.

he's still one of the defensive elites

What's his arm like these days? Perhaps the greatest I've ever seen at nailing someone at third from right.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:12 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good FPP, Groundhog Week.

The Mariners did not get much in return, it looks like, but they did not just let him go for nothing at the end of the season, either.

But, I wonder if King Felix is watching this and jotting down a few notes. . .
posted by Danf at 10:12 AM on July 24, 2012


IN other news, the Red Sox front office is in a desperate search for team with magic beans before the trade deadline, but will settle for wooden nickels and a prospect to be named later.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:15 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Mariners = Yankees farm team.
posted by weeyin at 10:19 AM on July 24, 2012


The Mariners = Yankees farm team.

I thought the Royals = Yankees farm team.
posted by Groundhog Week at 10:22 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Mariners = Yankees farm team.

I thought the Royals = Yankees farm team.


I always thought the same thing about the A's.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:31 AM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Entirety of MLB = Yankees farm team.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:32 AM on July 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Perhaps the greatest I've ever seen at nailing someone at third from right.

Did he ever manage to do that to anyone other than Terrence Long?

(Also, as a Yankee hater I'd be much more upset about this trade if Ichiro were still alive.)
posted by asterix at 10:33 AM on July 24, 2012


Major League Baseball = Yankees farm team.

If anyone's wondering Seattle's motivation for paying Ichiro to play for the Yankees (and no, those "prospects" aren't worth anything) it's almost certainly so they aren't faced with the awkward situation of not re-signing him when his contract expires in the off-season.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:33 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Onion: Yankees Ensure 2003 Pennant By Signing Every Player In Baseball
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:34 AM on July 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


As a Mariners fan, Ichiro was like a shot in the arm, providing some excitement for a team that always seemed to fail. Typically Mariners commercials are humorous, but this one kinda illustrated the effect Ichiro had on the fan base.

He was a staple in my fantasy baseball roster. I think this was the first year I didn't draft him, and it was a rather difficult decision having to balance performance with some sense of fan "loyalty." Still, it was nice to get base hits and stolen bases, and he was often solid defensively.

I wish him well on the Yankees, and hope he can win a title with them. Ichiro deserves a championship.

That said, I dislike the above "laser arm" video, because I'm not a big fan of choppy footage played like a spastic DJ on the turntable. The one I remember watching, though grainy, is this one. There was also a commercial he was in, where he was pitching from outfield (can't find it now), and the making-of showed that he really was throwing strikes from way out there.

I think I'll browse through the Mariners video archives for everything Ichiro-related, and relive some nostalgic moments. Some of those videos also show his arm, albeit the more recent ones are few and far between.
posted by CancerMan at 10:35 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Today is July 24th - anniversary of one of the greatest Yankee hater moments of all time.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:35 AM on July 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Yankees were just swept by the A's. They are terrified, so they decided to add some more fire power. I am so glad to see Suzuki leave Seattle. Now the Oakland "GREEN MACHINE" -Alex Rodriguez, has a legitimate shot at the Playoffs. Let's Go Oakland! (I live in NYC, but I am a lifelong A's fan, so I am reveling the sweep, especially after the horrific loss the 9ers suffered to the Giants.)
posted by Roger_Mexico at 10:44 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like MeFi's Own Jesse Thorn's take on it.

"Aw man! Ichiro to the Yankees? That's like your favorite uncle becoming a Scientologist."
posted by Rock Steady at 10:51 AM on July 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Today is July 24th - anniversary of one of the greatest Yankee hater moments of all time.

Maybe today he'll take off his mask and start a fight without it.
posted by inigo2 at 10:53 AM on July 24, 2012


He was an incredible player, and remains a very good one in the twilight of his career.

I am glad for him. I hope he gets to the World Series with the winning team this year.

But my heart breaks. He has been the player who made the Mariners special for all of us fans.
posted by bearwife at 10:57 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


He was an incredible player, and remains a very good one in the twilight of his career.

Nope. He's not even close to being a 'very good' player at this point. He's not even a good one. He's basically a replacement level player at this point, meaning you could grab a AAA player and get similar production.

Maybe he gets a second wind with the Yankees. They have nothing to lose. While the players they gave up aren't 'worthless', they're nothing the Yankees can't easily replace. And for Seattle, this frees them from a painful decision at the end of the season whether or not to spend too much for a once great player that is now clearly not.
posted by justgary at 11:20 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ichiro is not the player he once was. But he is my favorite player, still. The footage of him bowing to the Safeco crowd actually made me feel a little teary and I haven't lived in Seattle since 2002.

I don't like the Yankees, but I LOVE Ichiro. Good luck to you, no matter what.
posted by josher71 at 11:40 AM on July 24, 2012


Ichiro will always be a great player, regardless of his stats. He's virtually the epitome of a great baseballer. For those of us who appreciate how the game is played (as opposed to how the numbers turned out), it's tough to find anyone greater than Ichiro.
posted by Aquaman at 11:44 AM on July 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


HE PULLS HIS CUFFS UP. Like a proper ballplayer. Hall of fame, son.
posted by Edison Carter at 11:45 AM on July 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ichiro has been the player you could talk about with people who don't know anything about baseball.

This is true. Now how am I going to talk about baseball? :(
posted by jacalata at 11:56 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is true. Now how am I going to talk about baseball? :(

He's neither dead nor retired, so keep talking.
posted by Edison Carter at 11:58 AM on July 24, 2012


Nobody I know wants to talk about the Yankees.
posted by jacalata at 12:03 PM on July 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


OH MY GOD ICHIRO
posted by MegoSteve at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Today is July 24th - anniversary of one of the greatest Yankee hater moments of all time.

"We don't throw at .260 hitters." - The Captain.
posted by COD at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody I know wants to talk about the Yankees.

Shame.
posted by Edison Carter at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2012


It may not have come across that I am definitely the 'people who don't know anything about baseball' side of that conversation, and the baseball player names I know go something like Ichiro, Babe Ruth, um.
posted by jacalata at 12:12 PM on July 24, 2012


And both were right fielders for the Yankees!
posted by Edison Carter at 12:21 PM on July 24, 2012


FTA: SEATTLE (AP) Ichiro Suzuki is headed to a new team and, after all these years, maybe a shot at playing in the World Series.

Ouch. (Not wrong, but still, ouch.)

The M's '95 season is still my favorite, beating the Yankees in the ALDS was awesome, and then seeing Joey Cora fall apart in tears as Cleveland took the ALCS was just heartbreaking. It was the first time the Ms had a post-season in like, ever, and it was such an emotional roller coaster for the players and the fans. That was my senior year of high school, and while the post-season was playing out, more and more people got interested and less and less school work was getting done. By the final games of the ALCS, even kids who didn't follow baseball were showing up in jerseys and face paint, and at my after-school job we pretty much did as little work as possible and sat glued to the TV. Customers would come in, sometimes to shop, mostly just to watch the TV, and you could tell they were doing their errands hopping from store to store trying to miss as little of the game as possible.

For more winning teams, it's probably almost routine, but because this was the first time the Ms had a real shot, ever, it was almost otherworldly. As the Ms went further and further into the post-season, people started to think oh my God, this could actually happen. The Ms could actually win the Series! Suddenly, everyone had something positive in common to talk about. Even people who never followed baseball at all had favorite players. Joey. Randy. Griffey. Edgar. And even if they didn't know the ins and outs of the game, their excitement and spirit were contagious.

And then in 2000 we hit the post-season again, and lost the ALCS to those damn Yankees. And then, unbelievably, in 2001 we hit the championships again, only this time it was a flip-flop of '95; the Ms beat Cleveland in the ALDS and then lost to the Yankees in the ALCS. Once again, so close, and though our beloved Ms haven't been post-season contenders in the decade since, we still root, root, root for them 100%. SoDo Mojo, baby!

Damn, I love baseball.
posted by xedrik at 12:30 PM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still wish I understood what happened in the post season in 2001.
posted by maxwelton at 12:42 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


is there any chance the MFY's want Josh Beckett?

I assume MFY is an abbreviation for Mother Fucking Yankees.
posted by slogger at 12:54 PM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ichiro will always be a great player, regardless of his stats. He's virtually the epitome of a great baseballer. For those of us who appreciate how the game is played (as opposed to how the numbers turned out), it's tough to find anyone greater than Ichiro.

Except for Dave Conception, right? lol

Here's the thing: Ichiro was never very good. In his prime, he was barely All-Star level. And now, as it's been said, he's AAA level. He will be 39 in October. RETIRE.

Those of us who appreciate how the game is played know that numbers tell most of it, apart from defense. And do you know any non-shortstop defensive specialists in the majors?

You start your outfield with Ichiro in his prime. I'll take Barry in his prime. Let's see who wins.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:04 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The reanimated corpse of John Henry will do anything to fill seats at Fenway.
posted by pentagoet at 1:11 PM on July 24, 2012


Those of us who appreciate how the game is played know that numbers tell most of it

Despite me disagreeing with much of your assertion, I have to point this out as Quoted For Truth.
posted by Edison Carter at 1:16 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: "Here's the thing: Ichiro was never very good."

I know you're responding to hyperbole, but I feel like you're being hyperbolic in the other direction.

I would say that Ichiro had two great (not just very good) seasons: 2001 and 2004 (when he was 28 and 31 -- within a normal player's prime years).

Forgive me, I'm going a little inside-baseball here (check the baseball-reference.com link at the top of the FFP):

2001: .350 BA; .838 OPS; 7.5 WAR
2004: .372 BA; .869 OPS; 9.0 WAR

Baseball-reference.com states that an 8.0 of WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is MVP caliber. This is excluding his advanced defensive metrics. Granted, Ichiro lacked power (even some power is expected from outfielders), but that doesn't mean he cannot be "very good". Ozzie Smith has less power than Ichiro, but no one would ever say he didn't have "very good" seasons.

Would I take 1990s Barry Bonds over Ichiro... yes. But that doesn't mean Ichiro didn't have any "very good" seasons. Would I take 2000s Barry Bonds over Ichiro... no. Recent rules regarding PEDs would mean that I couldn't even have Bonds on my team.
posted by Groundhog Week at 1:35 PM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ichiro will always be a great player, regardless of his stats.

Ah, sports on metafilter, you never fail me.

Then stop using the words 'great player'. Instead use 'a player that plays the game in a manner that appeals to me but in almost every other measure sucks'.

You like the way he plays (in the way that you believe is the 'right' way to play the game, whatever the hell that is) ... great. But such an arbitrary way of ranking a player is meaningless. There is no 'we' that you speak of. My opinion of playing the game the 'right way' maybe different than yours, but just as valid.

Ichiro was a very good player that is now a very average player at best. No romanticising the player changes his stats. No playing the 'right way' changes the fact that Ichiro is almost worthless offensively right now.

Worship your favorite player, keep the poster on the wall, but don't let it blind you to his actual worth. He's 24th out of 25 corner outfielders in batting average. Of course, batting average is overrated, but he's not supplying any power either, nor running as much.

Playing the right way doesn't make those stats better, and it doesn't win you championships. It just makes you popular with fans that believe they 'know' the right way to play the game. As I already said, maybe Ichiro gets a second wind with the Yankees. You should hope so. Because if he continues his current drop off stats wise he'll be sitting on his ass next year (of course, the right way. Both feet on the ground, back straight...).
posted by justgary at 2:00 PM on July 24, 2012


Granted, Ichiro lacked power (even some power is expected from outfielders), but that doesn't mean he cannot be "very good".

Other than power (and sort of drawing walks, although that matters less when you can hit .370), Ichiro in his prime was good-to-great at almost every baseball skill. He stole a lot of bases at a very good percentage, played right field like a centerfielder, threw out ton of guys, could hit .330/.370/.430 without breaking a sweat, was barely ever injured, and even grabbed a bunch of bases in the ways it's easy to forget (i.e. reaching on error, going from first to third on a single, taking away the second out of a double play, etc). Through his prime, I'd say he was indeed very good, even if now he's hovering somewhere between average and replacement level. It's just that a lot of his value was in the sort of skills that show up in WAR but not in OPS.
posted by Copronymus at 2:20 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm not a huge fan of Ichiro's slap-hitting style, and his OPS numbers are not gaudy... no, he won't be confused for Bonds or Pujols or other players who would be in the very inner-most circle of the HoF (regular SpoFites will know well my almost insane passion for defending Bonds as probably the greatest hitter who ever lived, PED or no PED). And yes, starting especially in 2011- when his 200-hit season streak was finally broken- he basically is playing at replacement level. I'm personally not convinced that hitting in a better lineup, with a real reason to get up in the morning, won't make him a better hitter (maybe not as good as his 2001 or 2004 seasons, but certainly better than replacement level); his core skills are the kind that age better than most, and I'd always assumed he'd have a Rickey Henderson-like longevity. Perhaps I am wrong, or perhaps he just lost the fire, and playing for a contender in a solid lineup will rekindle it.

But to dismiss his trade as insignificant, or dismiss him as just a "very good" player at his peak, is just not correct.

First, he's got a number of very significant achievements on his resume, including the ROY/MVP awards in 2001, two batting titles, and the single-season record for most hits. He'll probably finish this season around 2,600 hits, and be three full seasons (even at his reduced, < 200 hit level) from that magical 3,000 hit plateau. A year ago, I considered it a lock that he'd stick around to get 3,000 hits (and at 2,979 hits, he'll also unofficially surpass Pete Rose's record for most hits in a career, if you include his NPB numbers). But his All-Star appearances, batting titles, Gold Gloves, and that record 10 consecutive 200+ hit seasons will likely get him into the HoF on the first ballot even without 3,000 (surely the first 3 votes, if not the first: 3,000 would pretty much clinch a 90%+ first-ballot election).

Second, as Groundhog Week notes and I'll reinforce, that the WAR doesn't lie: sure, Ichiro would have been even better if he was a double-hitting machine like Edgar Martinez, but his career WAR numbers are 54.5, in 12 seasons. Going further, for the first 10 years he played he was in the top 10 of WAR most every year (see his baseball reference page for more). Despite his slap-hitting style, Ichiro was a top 10-offensive presence most years he played, and that doesn't even include his Gold Glove defense and laser cannon arm. Look how close he is in WAR compared to guys like Derek Jeter (an abominable 2nd baseman) or Manny Ramirez or Vlad Guerrero, all of whom have several more playing seasons than Ichiro, and racked those extra seasons up when they were younger.

And we need to remind ourselves that he didn't come to MLB until he was 27. He racked up 1,278 hits in the shortened seasons of Japanese baseball; had he started in the majors, he'd likely be nearing 4,000 hits already, have a higher career WAR, more batting titles, and be facing a lot of pressure to stay in the game to reach to 4,000/4,257 hits.

Ichiro today is a replacement-level hitter, but I'm not convinced that his speed (foot or bat) has truly declined beyond redemption, and that he can't put out 2-3 more very good years on a good team. But notwithstanding that, he also is a HoF-level player who had some epic, great seasons.
posted by hincandenza at 2:31 PM on July 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


mrgrimm, please provide evidence to back up the contention that Ichiro was never very good. And by evidence, I don't mean "he wasn't Barry Bonds," since measured against Barry Bonds, only a handful of players were consistently very good since 2001.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:59 PM on July 24, 2012


Those of us who appreciate how the game is played know that numbers tell most of it.

Edison Carter: "... I have to point this out as Quoted For Truth."

Hmmm... Yes and No.

I'm a Cardinals fan. Last year's World Series was awesome. I love what David Freese did last year in the NLCS and WS. Game 6 of that WS was a roller-coaster of emotions for me. After Nelson Cruz (I think it was him) hit his homerun, I put a hole in a wall with a chair in my apartment. My wife was pissed at me (she's a Rangers fan) because the chair that I broke was a family gift. (as a side note -- I was super stressed from work and this event led to getting help for it and my depression... so yay?)

Anyways, Freese ties it up and 9th and eventually wins it with a homer in extras. Awesome. Time to go get wood glue to fix the chair I broke.

Freese's numbers in the NLCS and WS were great. Like... super great: NLCS - 1.691 OPS (WHAT?) and WS - 1.160 OPS. But those numbers do not define Freese's value for Cardinals fans. That triple in the 9th (which was aided by Nelson Cruz's less than stellar defense) and that extra-inning homerun are what we will remember. When I'm bouncing my future grandkid on my knee (in the now fully repaired and restored chair) I won't regale him or her with math and statistics, but what those events meant to me, personally and as a Cardinals fan.

Stats are bookkeeping, which has its value. But moments and fond memories of athletic artistry is the source for many (maybe most) fans' appreciation for players and how they are valued.

Here's another way to look at it. If we wiped all Olympic records clean, would that reduce the stakes and drama of the Olympics?
posted by Groundhog Week at 4:17 PM on July 24, 2012


While it is true that Ichiro's overall stats have been in the tank for the past couple years, let's examine a few things.

First, it is conjectured here that Ichiro may have been bored playing on such a crappy team. Maybe being on a team where the playoffs are a given might perk him up. That article also refers to him making all sorts of concessions about playing with New York, including sitting against LHPs. It is possible this could extend his career for a few years.

Even though his overall stats are kinda crummy, this season he's batting .296 away from Seattle with a .712 OPS. He has 93 total bases away to only 50 at home, and Seattle has played 52 away games; that's close to 2 bases a game, not shabby for an older dude. Ichiro always struck me as a "rack up some bases" kinda guy.

Here's the real ticket: every game is an away game now for him. Maybe the trade revitalizes him a bit, and he plays more like the Ichiro in those 52 away games than the 44 at home ones. Only time will tell, and most folks are probably right, that the Yanks wouldn't have made the trade for any other player in this position who wasn't named Ichiro.

Anyway, I love the guy. I wish him well.
posted by King Bee at 4:53 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yesterday, on the morning news here in Japan, as I was getting ready for work, the emergency bulletin crawl across the top of the screen kicked in. Mind you, this thing is usually the first report of a significant earthquake, or at least a massive train delay. Instead, it was the first announcement (beating ESPN by a good half an hour) in Japan about the Ichiro trade.

He might not be the player he once was, but he's still huge here. If, at the end of the season, he does decide to return to Japan, he'll have his pick of teams, and be allowed to play as long as he wants.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:45 PM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


No US-based media had the Kawasaki reaction, but Yakyu Baka brought home tye translation of the first Mune-related take:

Ichiro on Kawasaki: "This was one of the things that made my decision difficult. ... [but] being in the same place does not necessarily mean being able to play together.  I felt that we could still do things together despite being in different places."

Mune looked just as sad as you would think last night. I hope some Japanese media person buttonholes him this week. He's the most fun-to-watch player on the M's right now (Felix being a different viewing experience) and I couldn't but think about him when I got the news (via urgent text before confirmation from several different folks).

JP Patches and Ichiro both on one day. Sad times. Albeit Ichi's not dead.
posted by mwhybark at 6:36 PM on July 24, 2012


Great post, Groundhog Week; you read us well. I really like Ichiro and wish he had been able to play his entire MLB career with the Mariners. That would have been great. The MFY will chew him up and spit him out. He still looks great and is fast and can probably crank out singles until he is stone cold dead but how many more years can he keep up the defense. This move is just pitiful. He'll join the ranks of "lads who wore their honors out," I fear, instead of retiring as the toast of Seattle.

Baseball almost always is finished with 39 year old position players, even when they've had the phenomenal good luck not to have suffered career-ending injuries. Why, oh why, do they so often go for that one more year? Still, Ichiro has a certain magic, even if it is a bit tired. Maybe he'll get a ring out of this. But I can't wish that, not even for Ichiro. Damn you, baseball! You always manage to break my heart.
posted by Anitanola at 6:58 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


PNW sports reporter Shannon Drayer on 10 years covering Ichiro.
posted by mwhybark at 7:39 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. The unstoppable object of my Ichiro love is now going to crash into the immoveable force of my Yankee hate.
posted by bardic at 8:44 PM on July 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I was wondering about Kawasaki. There was quite a big deal made about him essentially demanding to only go to the Mariners so he could play with Ichiro. That's gotta sting a bit.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:46 PM on July 24, 2012


Bardic, think Steve Nash to the Lakers, and that's about it. It's been a good summer for the Sith. All that needs to happen now is Brian Urlacher becoming a Packer.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:47 PM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Safeco Field scoreboard told me on several occasions that Ichiro's favorite offseason hobby is "Baseball" and his favorite actor is "Hugh Grant." That's what I'll remember about Ichiro, besides groundouts to second base, since I arrived in Seattle just in time for the beginning of the end.
posted by Kwine at 8:48 PM on July 24, 2012


Here's the thing: Ichiro was never very good. In his prime, he was barely All-Star level.

I guess everyone else has pretty much defenestrated this idea, but let me throw in two more statistics:
WAR*, 2001-2010
Albert Pujols	82.8
Alex Rodriguez  71.5
Barry Bonds	55.7
Ichiro Suzuki	52.7
Lance Berkman	52.0
* - Fangraphs WAR
Fangraphs suggests that a WAR of 5 or over denotes a superstar. And again, Ichiro is the second oldest player on this list.

He gets there by being the second best fielder of that time period -- 125.3, second only to Andruw Jones' 151. (Jones is now #2 all time in fielding runs, behind only Brooks Robinson. He's arguably the greatest fielding CF in history, but he's another guy people would say "barely All-Star level" about. And ironically, looks like he'll be the platoon-mate of Ichiro.)

As for the four-part Hall Of Fame test on Baseball Reference:
Black Ink	Batting - 45 (34), Average HOFer ≈ 27
Gray Ink	Batting - 141 (113), Average HOFer ≈ 144
Hall of Fame Monitor	Batting - 218 (36), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
Hall of Fame Standards	Batting - 38 (184), Average HOFer ≈ 50
Above the mean in three tests, and the fourth one he would be had he not played in Japan until his year 27 season.

The idea that Ichiro was never very good is absolutely false. A Ruth-Aaron-Williams elite he's not, but he's top 10 for his era, definitely. And that's definitely very good. And honestly, had he been hanging around the Pesky Pole or patrolling right field of Yankee Stadium the last 12 years, no one would dare suggest he wasn't "barely All-Star level."
posted by dw at 9:16 PM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the Sportsfilter thread: Ichiro's speech to All-Stars revealed.
posted by Errant at 9:58 PM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Via SI: "After hitting two home runs in Sunday's victory against the Red Sox, Ichiro Suzuki is now batting .322/.344/.506 in his 26 games with the Yankees. The 128 wRC+ he has with the Yankees would be his highest mark for any full season since 2004, which helps explain how well he has hit in his short time in New York. Although he has just one walk in 92 plate appearances, he has made consistent contact by posting a 5.4 strikeout rate and has hit for much more power than was to be expected. His production will likely decline over the remainder of the year, but the short-term rental has dividends so far."
posted by inigo2 at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2012


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