Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ichiro Is MY MVP....Sort Of

  • I'm getting my "anonymouses" confused:

You'd never think that my honest appraisal of Ichiro Suzuki would've elicited such a reaction, but it has.

Two things: One, I'm getting my anonymous commenters confused, so it's hard to go back into previous comments to get a full gauge of the debate if I'm not exactly sure to whom I'm speaking now and was speaking to then. Two, I've been----benevolently----editing typographical mistakes (which are understandable); and misuse of words such as "your/you're" (which are not understandable); I'm not doing that anymore. Since I'm cutting and pasting the comments, the mistakes are not mine.

That said, I'll quote the unsaid credo of the 1986 Mets of Davey Johnson, Keith Hernandez, Ray Knight and Kevin Mitchell: You wanna go? Let's go.

  • Viewer Mail 9.28.2010:

Anonymous writes RE Ichiro:

[quote]Never mind the "debate" (about which I'm right)[/quote]

Just to clarify, you are not "right".

What was the Ichiro quote? "I could hit 40 hr's if I batted .220". That's the thing, the .330 hitter who hits 10 hr's may be better than the .220 hitter that hits 40 hr's. So, the quote you attributed to proving your point, actually is a strike against you.

Sure, you skipped through my posts and cherry-picked, we get that. I guess it was all in the name of "being right" as opposed to actually learning something.

Like I said (and what you conveniently skipped), if you truly believe he can hit 20-30 HR's, you need to evaluate how that would affect the rest of his game. As Ichiro said himself, you might not like the "new" Ichrio that's batting .220. Which, in turn, would mean that his OBP is less than .300. Meaning that the new Ichiro just became Mike Jacobs, who stinks.

What is the point of this blog? To stroke your own ego?

I'm pretty sure that this is "Anonymous #1" again from Sunday.

According to your original comment----steeped in the existential philosophical questions to the tune of, "how do we know we know?"----we don't "know" anything. Much like a Biblical, baseball-centric chimera has yet to appear and anoint me as the "God of what-if" as you so explicitly pointed out that I was not, we're safe in the knowledge that you are among us as the 21st Century's first great thinker to form the basis for college philosophy courses in the year 2175. In fact, perhaps we could perform a Monty Python-style skit based on the baseball "what-ifs"; a 2 out of 3 falls wrestling match to determine whether or not the God of "what-if" exists.

I now understand why you choose to comment anonymously; the pressure of being so immersed in the depths of said existential questions and understanding that which people of the limited intellect such as myself could never know, you're right to stay hidden; underground; and protected by the cloak of anonymity.

For that reason, henceforth, I will refer to you as "Descartes".

Like Greg Brady, you've become so paralyzed by life under the onus of "exact words" that you're unable to grasp even the simplest concepts of extrapolation of individual results vs ability. For someone who's taking my words so literally I'm beginning to see why you have no fundamental clue of reality.

I'm not quite sure where my "cherry-picking" took place----it'd be nice if you pointed them out----but you're definitely cherry-picking abstractions of the game of baseball. Are you a stat zombie who thinks reading 3 stats makes you a sudden expert? Have I gotten you so worked up that that you're unable to craft and organize a coherent refutation----with the proof you so desperately seek (in something tangible; not "Who are you!?!" or the Dom Irrera comedy routine of "Who died and left you boss?!?") and are just haphazardly flinging things against the wall hoping to be deemed "right"?

The pompous arrogance inherent with your fragmentary goal of "teaching" me something is a statement in and of itself; to maintain such self-importance and still be unable to complete the task makes you look even more ridiculous.

Let's put into into concrete terms, Greg Descartes Monty Python Anonymous Brady. Do you know the difference between a hitter doing what needs to be done to help his team and a self-aggrandizing attempt to accumulate numbers----essentially fiddling while Rome burns?

Apparently not.

Let's look at a player comparable to Ichiro in ability----Carl Crawford.

Who's more valuable? Crawford can bat anywhere in the Rays batting order from first to fourth and would do his job regardless of where he's placed. No, Crawford doesn't have the lofty batting average, nor the number of hits that Ichiro does; but he steals the same number of bases; he strikes out more....and has between 50 and 60 extra base hits a year. Could Ichiro do that? And would that help the Mariners?

Do you really think that Ichiro meant that he'd hit .230 if he tried to hit 40 homers? Or was he exaggerating on both counts to justify his game----which does little to help his team win in their current state? Could Ichiro hit 40 homers? I don't know, it's doubtful; but he could absolutely hit 25-30. Would this be more helpful to his team than doing what he does now as a stat-compiler? Considering the hideousness of the Mariners on the whole, they wouldn't be a contender with a pure basher like Albert Pujols in the lineup, so Ichiro's increased power output wouldn't make that great a difference with the overall state of the club, but they would be better.

Do you truly think that if Ichiro swung for more homers based on the game situation, his on base percentage would dip to Mike Jacobs levels?


First, if he's batting with 2 outs and nobody on base and the pitcher falls behind 2-0, he can and should pick a zone and swing for the downs to try and hit the ball out of the park. This is especially true considering the weakness of the hitters behind him. Instead, he tries to hit a single to bolster his own stats. This is not a winning, situational player. The increased power output would predicate pitchers being more careful with him and lead to more walks, so while he wouldn't hit .350, his on base percentage would be similar and he'd produce more runs with homers.

You cannot fathom the concept of situational hitting; of making a conscious decision to alter his approach depending on the score; the baserunners; the ballpark; the pitcher; a multitude of other factors that can and should affect a hitter's process. Until you dispatch these transcendental (and idiotic) theories----for which you have neither the comprehension nor baseball knowledge to substantiate----I can't help you.

What you're clearly too obtuse to learn yourself is the essence of Ichiro in his current state is: "I got mine!"; "I got paid!"; "I survived!"

The point of this blog is to express myself. Some like it; some don't; and I don't care one way or the other. Read it or don't. Like it or not. This is what I got; this is what I think; I'll debate with anyone, anywhere, anytime about anything relating to what I've written. A writer does write to stroke his own ego; he must write to stroke his own ego if he hopes to be any good at all. Since you're so embedded in your own ego that you feel qualified to come at me without any argument other than scattershot accusations which you have yet to substantiate, I'll direct you to Ayn Rand and objectivist theory.

Quote from the foreword of We The Living:

The Naturalist school of writing consists of substituting statistics for one's standard of value(...)

The Naturalist school records the choices which men happened to have made; the Romantic school projects the choices which men can and ought to make. I am a Romantic Realist(...)

I can't possibly expect you to get what I'm saying and I'm waiting for another self-immolating and pointless response from you, presumably even angrier since when one doesn't have a formidable argument they resort to other means to "win". These----threats, ridicule, name-calling----don't work on me, but you're welcome to try (and fail) again.

Anonymous writes RE Ichiro and me:

your a red sox fan?

you have my condolences.

but i digress.

all this hating on ichiro.

can't we just appreciate his feat and marvel at his athletic ability.

i mean the guy is a class act, he plays hard, you can forgive him for being a little disheartened considering he has been on such a horrible team for years.

stay solid ichiro, it will come full circle when you play for the yankees next year!

A Red Sox fan? If you'd like to dole out sympathy, do it for the right reason (and far more applicable)----I'm a Mets fan!!!

In return, I offer my condolences for your lack of punctuation and knowledge of which version of "your/you're" to use when writing. (Hint: sentences begin with capitalized words.)

Did I say anything derogatory about Ichiro to imply a personal animus towards him? In fact, much like the coach, teacher, leader is harder on the underling/student he feels has more to give than his less gifted counterparts, my entreaty to Ichiro is to do what everyone aside from these anonymous commenters seem to know he can do----help his team by hitting for more power.

I can forgive a player being upset that his circumstances are dire in a teamwide sense; but when his own manipulation of the team and his own station are a major part of said team issues, it's unforgivable because if he decided to sacrifice his own precious hit records, the team would be better and there wouldn't be this controversy.

Thomas No"nickname"vikoff writes RE Ichiro and Albert Pujols:

"If Albert Pujols decided one year that he wanted to hit .400, he could do it."

This alone is one of the worst assumptions any supposed "baseball writer" has ever made. Ted Williams' frozen head is rolling on the floor right now...

Let's look at this statistically.

Pujols's career average is .332 so we'll use that as a baseline with a season in which he hit close to that number. In 2006, Pujols hit .332 in a lineup surrounded by limited protection Scott Rolen, Juan Encarnacion and Jim Edmonds----none of whom had more than 22 homers. Pujols hit 49 homers and drove in 137 runs; he walked 92 times; struck out 50 times; and had an on base percentage of .431.

Let's say Pujols, instead of hitting pitches that may have been a shade out of the strike zone----to help his team by hitting instead of walking----he took the walks as Barry Bonds used to. Do you really think that Pujols would only have walked 92 times? Or would his total have approached 200? How would the increase in walks have increased his batting average if he was a selfish player looking to have a high batting average rather than to hit for power?

Then, if Pujols decided to do as Ichiro does and take a favorable hitters' count and, rather than try to hammer, poked the ball the other way to hit a single. How high would his average be then?

The example I cited the other day of Dave Winfield is a prime case of a hitter going for a higher average at the expense of power----and Winfield was not a selfish player. From 1983-1984, Winfield's homers declined by 13; his hits increased from 169-193; his OBP went from .345 to .393. We can debate whether or not Winfield was more useful to the Yankees with 30+ homers or with the increased OPS stemming from the increased number of hits, but he proved it's possible to adjust one's game based on the desire to do a specific thing.

How about Joe Mauer?

Could Mauer hit more homers if he decided to try and pull the ball rather than going to all fields as he currently does? If he lifted the ball; sacrificed some contact; and eschewed his back-up-the-middle style for an increase in homers, the 6'5", 230 pound Mauer could absolutely do such a thing----but that's not what the Twins need from him!! If Mauer did what Ichiro does, he too could probably hit close to .400.

How does that do their teams any good?

It doesn't.

I love it when commenters make statements to the tune of, "you're wrong", but provide absolutely nothing aside from snarky witticisms like references to Ted Williams's frozen head (that went out of style five years ago) rather than offer fact.

Anonymous writes RE Ichiro:

Do you work foer Pete Rose? Trying to preserve "The American Way"? Here's the news: Ichiro is a great hitter. He's a great baseball player. He will be in the Hall of Fame (unlike Mr. Rose) and he is better for baseball than ALL the steroid bums of the last few years ( yes, that includes A[nal]-Rod). Ichiro is a once-in-100-years player.

I suspect there is anti-Japanese sentiment or, at least, "Americans are the best at baseball 'cause it's OUR damn game" sentiment behind your comments. Well, one day America's World Series Champion needs to play Japan's champion baseball team. We'll see if America can claim to be best. You might be surprised when the Japanese whip the American team.

Ichiro's "problem" is that while doing his job, his American-born teamates are not good enough to match his skills. Get that? His American-born teamates "ain't got da goods!"

Yes. I work "foer" Pete Rose and my analysis is based on anti-Japanese sentiment. How I kept my stereotypes and prejudices hidden for so long is a mystery even to me.

Thank you for exposing me. Now I'm free.

The fact is that I'm not, under any circumstances, a defender of Rose; nor am I convinced that he should be allowed in the Hall of Fame considering his transgressions; I can be swayed either way on the Rose argument. While he undoubtedly deserves enshrinement for his on-field accomplishments, there's something so against the fabric of the game itself in betting on one's own team that the hardliners saying he never gets in period have a logical basis for their feelings on the matter.

This comment is so calamitous in content and execution that I'm not wasting space tearing it apart.

Anonymous writes RE Ichiro:

You didn't do much valuable research to back up your theory.

First, you obviously haven't seen how teams pitch to Ichiro or how he approaches that pitching. If you'd done any research, you would have noticed that while many commentators feel he could hit homeruns, his only home runs are to right or right center. That means either he doesn't have the power or its how he's pitched. Second, you'd notice, if you watched him that he swings at EVERYTHING. He was once quoted that he feels like a failure if he doesn't get a hit while at the plate. Walking isn't much of a goal for him. His style to swing and jump out of the box adds to this. Those two things have lead many teams to pitch him down and away to make him lean over the plate or give him complete garbage. He can foul off those pitches all day long but they don't lead to easy pitches he could park either. Often times the only thing he can do with those pitches is weakly ground them to the shortstop and go for an infield hit - which he does suprisingly often. They've learned after a couple huge seasons that he can hit anything, so nobody pitches to him - they figure if they throw him garbage and he'll swing at it, the worst he can do is an infield single. With he being in the leadoff spot with weak hitters behind him and at #8 or #9, there's no danger to pitching to him with garbage. The real weakness is he needs better guys behind him.

Besides you mention Rose and Gwynn adjusting their style to fit their team needs. That's crap too. Neither of them hit more than more than 16-17 home runs and often they were hitting 0-1 a year, on a full season. Notice Rose hit ZERO while playing 151 games for Philly. Gwynn recorded a few SINGLE homerun seasons as well. Both of them averaged between 5-10 most years. Rose had double figures in HRs in 8 seasons of his first 14 and averaged just 12 in those 8 seasons. Rose had his last 200 plus hit year in his 17th season in 1979. In that time he averaged 6.7 homeruns a year. Neither averaged 20-25 much less ever made it past 17 a year. Neither adjusted their game that much.

They did what every other great hitter does - hey went to the plate and hit they way they knew how. Maybe the situation changes, but if you've ever heard Ichiro speak, you'll know his situational awareness and that he has an idea of what he wants to do is as acute as any Hall of Famer.

You're theory that he could hit more homers and just doesn't want to is bogus.

Pitchers pitch Ichiro as if he's nothing to worry about in terms of game-breaking ability because he has no desire to be a game-breaker. As I said earlier, there's a time to take everything into account and adjust the approach. Any good hitter who's playing for his team can and should----if he has the ability----try to hit for power when the situation calls for it. If Ichiro did such a thing, he'd bat in the middle of the lineup and try to hit homers----as he and others have said he has the ability to do----and be a more valuable asset to his team and earn more of the lofty paycheck he receives.

How is my "theory" bogus when the player himself has said he could do it if he chose to?

This nonsense of "feeling like a failure" could be cultural, but it's a losing attitude because the template of selfishness is part of why Ichiro isn't all he could be. Who cares about how Ichiro feels as long as he helps the team win apart from Ichiro himself? Because he can foul pitches off all day makes it more of a travesty that he chooses to hit singles rather than wait for a pitch he can drive and try to do so.

Tony Gwynn and Rose did have the power to hit homers if they----as Ichiro could----sacrifice some strikeouts, walks and hit totals to increase their power numbers. Hitting the way they "knew how" is irrelevant in the team sense. If Rose or Gwynn were required to hit for more power, they could have done so. As with Mauer, it would require trying to pull the ball more and altering their level swings to lift the ball with greater authority.

Any great hitter will tell you that when he pulls a homer, it was either a mistake on the part of the pitcher or that the hitter missed what he was trying to do----what every great hitter does----hit the ball back up the middle. Pujols and Mauer hit so many balls back up the middle because their coordination is such that they can hit the ball consistently with perfection. That's why they're the best at what they do. Ichiro's bat control and flexibility you mention actually bolsters my argument that he could manipulate his bat control to hit for more power.

Ichiro's not even the MVP of his own team, but he's been of infinite value to me. His selfishness is my reward.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and Noble.com. It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.


She-Fan said...

Wow. All this about Ichiro. I bet he'd be flattered.

Jeff said...


Looks like Anonymousville is BURNING! Bwahahahahahaha!

And don't worry. Ichiro's English is good enough. ;-)

Anonymous said...

This is Mr. "Foer" writing to you, oh silly spelling cop. Yes, one's fingers fly across the keyboard and-oooo, so sorry!-one makes an error! (I thought proving one's superiority in thought because one noticed a spelling error went out long ago.)

But I digress.

Here, kiddo, let's make comparisons you-yes, even you-should understand. Ichiro is far better at baseball than you are at baseball analysis, indeed, far better than you are at THINKING IN GENERAL. Got that, kiddo?

One thing more: You have never even played baseball in the major leagues. What the hell do you know about baseball other than some history and basic rules? Nothing. Nada. I spit on your book and banish your blog from my sight.

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "Two, I've been----benevolently----editing typographical mistakes (which are understandable); and misuse of words such as "your/you're" (which are not understandable); I'm not doing that anymore."

Replace "not understandable" with "unacceptable". Why so? Because you certainly understood that which was "not understandable".

See? You play Mr. Smarty Pants and you wind up getting taught a lesson in clarity of thought and expression. ;-P

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

Anonymous, your slip is showing.

kcourtsclayton said...

First of all, it's a testament to your unbiased writing that one of the posters assumed you were a Red Sox fan. It is what I have always loved the most about you--you are fair and even-handed with all of your analysis of teams.

Secondly, it is offensive that you were accused of some anti-Japanese sentiment but not particularly unexpected. The amount of comments about your Ichiro post (and the fact that these posters have clearly not read your excellent rebuttals) had me expecting the prejudice accusation long ago. Even so, it is ridiculous that you cannot make a reasoned argument about player without being called racist.

Actually, I think you may be discriminatory against big naked white fellas because you brutalize Michael Kay every single day. Yep, I'm mad now.

Matt said...

Yesterday being the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams' last game, I was, of course, rereading Updike's classic essay and saw this passage which reminded me of this Ichiro thing going on here. Thought I'd pass it along.
"...the Williams Shift—the maneuver, custom-built by Lou Boudreau, of the Cleveland Indians, whereby three infielders were concentrated on the right side of the infield, where a left-handed pull hitter like Williams generally hits the ball. Williams could easily have learned to punch singles through the vacancy on his left and fattened his average hugely. This was what Ty Cobb, the Einstein of average, told him to do. But the game had changed since Cobb; Williams believed that his value to the club and to the game was as a slugger, so he went on pulling the ball, trying to blast it through three men, and paid the price of perhaps fifteen points of lifetime average. Like Ruth before him, he bought the occasional home run at the cost of many directed singles—a calculated sacrifice certainly not, in the case of a hitter as average-minded as Williams, entirely selfish.

Anonymous said...

Nice article on Ichiro as compared with Hall of Famer Rod Carew:


BTW, loved your last book. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute here, did my Ichiro response get deleted (I talk about what I meant by using Ichiro's quote, and my response about Mike Jacobs)? I can't find it now. If it was deleted, that's weak sauce. Booooo! If it wasn't deleted, my apologies.

Anonymous said...

To the Anon that presented the link which compares Carew to Ichiro - Bravo!

Oh wait, no, that Carew was just a singles hitter that's just padding his stats! He's not a winner, he's a stat-padder! He doesn't know anything about situational hitting! Remove Carew from the Hall of Fame! [/sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

To the person who thanked me for the link to the article comparing Carew and Ichiro: you are most welcome. I'm the same Anonymous person that wrote the "slapping" ad hominem to get a rise out of the self-proclaimed "Prince of New York" and "slapped" through the link to the Carew article with the compliment (lie) about "da Prince's" book (I never read it; never will).

Given all the abuse Ichiro has gotten at the gooey fingers of "Prince", I had to insure that the comparison article got through-just like an Ichiro single or, since some of the readers may have their craniums up there sphincters and are anti-Japanese,like a Zero attack on a certain Hawaiian base sixty-nine years ago-so that readers could read a useful comparison rather than the bogus bluster served up by "Prince".

Gotcha Prince! LOL! Eat my frilly slip! Long live Ichiro My Hero! Yay!

Anonymous said...

BTW, "Prince"...see if you can spot the errors in the previous comment. It will give you something useful to do other than comment on baseball. LOL! Like many a general manager, you know nothing about professional baseball. You can read about sex but that doesn't make you a real f*cker. Get it? Nah, likely not.

Say it "Prince": Ichiro is my hero slapping singles like a Zero diving through the clouds. Bonzai!

Anonymous said...

so you are a mets fan.

even worse.

but it makes sense.

no wonder you got all this pent up animosity towards professionalism.

just like the mets you can mail it in every year unlike some guys who
are busy getting 200 hits for the tenth year in a row.

Macw said...

The idea that Ichiro could hit 25 to 30 homers if he chose to is the worst kind of conjecture. Ichiro's lifetime batting average on fly balls is something like .184. Compare that to a home run hitter like Ryan Howard who hits .450 on fly balls with most of them going for home runs (you can find this info in Bill James' 2009 edition of his Gold Mine). Ichiro has never hit a home run to dead center or to left center field, a classic indication of a player who doesn't have the power to consistently swing for the fences. To argue that Ichiro chooses not to hit more home runs because he's selfish is just fallacious character assassination, just like your argument that Ichiro was giving less than his best effort in Center field or that he drove Hargrove out of Seattle even though both parties deny it. To resort to innuendo and assumption to belittle a player is to give yourself away. You are not a reliable judge of Ichiro's character or his contributions on the field.

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