2009 Review: Ichiro
Sorry for the lack of activity lately folks – Harrison is out on a week-long mission, and Taylor and I just haven’t had much to write about. I’ll try to put together a couple of interesting pieces over the next few days, and we’ve also got a pretty big, FREE, give away that I’ll get started here real soon. To our loyal readers – we appreciate the patience!
Ok, so anyway, Ichiro. Ichiro is similar to Beltre, in the fact that the uneducated Mariners fans will constantly dig for reasons as to why we shouldn’t be happy to have him. If it isn’t one thing it’s another – he’s selfish, he doesn’t hit for enough power, he doesn’t steal enough bases, he doesn’t dive for balls in the outfield, he isn’t patient. Granted, some of these things are true, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s both outstanding at what he does, and an outstanding ballplayer overall.
And at what he does, he’s better than anyone in the game – and 2009 was no exception. It was pretty much a typical Ichiro season – over 200 hits, led all of baseball in infield hits, broke a record, and batted well over .300. That record was, of course, 9 consecutive, 200+ hit seasons, which, when you think about it, is absolutely ridiculous. Think about how many players get 200+ hits each year. 4? 5? Less? A handful at most, yet Ichiro has done it every single season since 2001, and personally, I feel like he’s just getting started.
We saw plenty from Ichiro this year, but one thing we didn’t see was any real sign of aging. He’s no spring chicken, but his 50-something infield hits are a pretty clear indicator that his age hasn’t caught up with him yet. Some could point to the low, at least for Ichiro, stolen base total, as a sign that he’s losing some of that speed, but there are a lot of factors that could have contributed to that. It’s certainly a valid point, but other than Ichiro himself, who knows why he chose to run less often?
Ichiro’s defense out in right bounced back nicely from a somewhat down-year in 2008, checking in with a 2009 UZR of 10.1. It’s not Gutierrez-esque, but it’s still well above average. This year was, however, his first below average year arm-wise since 2002 – over one season though, that’s nothing to worry about. It was only 1.8 runs below average, and that was mainly caused by inaccuracy, and not decreased arm strength. The fact that Rob Johnson doesn’t know how to catch the ball probably didn’t help, either.
You’d think, that with a player as intriguing as Ichiro, there would be more to write, but because of the fact that none of this is anything new, it’s a bit of a stretch. We’ve seen all of this from Ichiro for nine years now, and I guess it doesn’t really phase us as Mariners fans anymore. This year was different for Ichiro in one way, though; he was really happy.
It was obvious that, thanks to Junior and Sweeney, Ichiro felt more a part of this clubhouse than he ever has in the past. We finally got to witness something from him that we haven’t really seen before – he was having fun. Pretty much all the time. And I don’t know about you guys, but for me, there’s pretty much nothing more fun to watch than a happy Ichiro. It just warms the heart.
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