I really hate all the zombie steroid discussion that comes with , but am always interested to how it becomes associated with a player purely based upon theory and general fan/media conjecture. I’m not trying to the Ryan Braun haters out there rather Raul Ibanez is what comes to my mind. Yet, Jim Thome, continues to rock the ball year in and year out and hasn’t been an actual “position” player –by the definition of the word– in nearly 4 years and is making a go at this year in Philadelphia.
Ichiro is such an interesting case. I’ve always partcipated in the idle talk of “what could he be capable of” in the associations of Ichiro’s skills at the plate. It’s been clear that he has his own philosophy at the plate and it works for him. That philosophy is impossible to argue against being he’s displayed an uncanny ability to procure hits from a normally flaw process.
That unique philosophy has been made successful based upon his speed which is/was elite and with the use of that specific tool he’s largely made himself a star –that along with his right arm– so it’s turned out for the best. The thing that we always come back to is the fact that for the better part of the decade he has shown to be in the most elite tier of hitter when it comes to bat control and physical attributes at the plate.
Those attributes have allowed him to not just perform well with getting on base with singles but to take advantage of balls left over the plate and for him to drive them when the occasion arises. Now he is actively changing a philosophy that was built upon the thought and felt he was best suited in putting the ball in play in order to get on base than he was to actively work counts and draw it was better to put the ball in play.
We know that based upon his time in NPB he didn’t always maintain this approach. Rather than the 6% BB averages he produces in the big leagues he brought an above average and patient nature to the middle of the order for the Orix Blue Waves. Now that he is actively participating in a change of approach I can’t help but be counted among the number of others who wonder if we will see him increase his “power” numbers.
Based on the law of averages –and while this is a basic assumption it seems good in theory– we very well should see an increase his extra base hits. Why? Well, if the ball is getting out to the outfield more than what it was previously, by pure percentage and mathematic ratio reasoning says it makes sense that he would have less singles and more doubles or even triples. It’s also possible that he will add a few home runs to his yearly total.
All those things to consider is it crazy to think that he would be able to improve upon his slugging percentage to a point that he approaches or even possible breaks the .450 mark? And what is the possibility that he even sets a new single season career mark in the .500 area? I’m not that confident in him and I really would be satisfied if all he managed to do was hit .290/.340/.390.
These are just a few random thoughts based upon some of Ichiros NPB stats and a general thought on a hitters philosophy at the plate. I’m not sure that I actually believe in the idea that Ichiro would come in, and at his age, become a #3 type hitter. I’m just throwing out somethings that I’ve thought about recently. I’m sure you all can at the bare minimum related to some of these thoughts.