Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What about Ichiro?

Like I did with Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells on Friday, I decided to take a closer look at Ichiro Suzuki's hitting stats. Although, unlike the three guys I mentioned, I was looking for reasons why Ichiro has been hitting so poorly, and whether he would improve or not.

It may take more lucky charms than this for things to work out.

The first thing I looked at was Suzuki's batting average on balls in play, and what I saw was shocking. His BABIP at this time is a miniscule .167. My first reaction was "holy cow, is Ichiro getting unlucky or what!?" Outside of Ben Francisco and Chris Stewart, who collectively only have 20 plate appearances, that is the lowest BABIP on the team. The average BABIP in the majors is .291, and usually hovers somewhere around .300. But before anybody starts feeling bad for Ichiro, allow me to tell you a bit more.

I'm not so naive as to think a player's batting average on balls in play is a good way to tell if a batter has gotten lucky or not. I mean, if a player is hitting the ball hard every time he swings the bat, and less than 20% of those balls fall in for a base hit, then sure... he may be getting unlucky. Unfortunately that's not the case for Mr. Suzuki.

Before getting traded to New York, Suzuki was struggling in Seattle hitting a paltry .261/.288/.353. During that time his BABIP was .279, which may be a bit lower than the league average, but hardly indicative of somebody running into a bout of bad luck. Meanwhile, Ichiro's line drive percentage was 22%, which is right in line with his career average of 21%. So Suzuki was hitting the ball as hard as he had been his entire time in MLB, and those batted balls were dropping in for base hits at a fairly normal pace, which taken together tells me that the guy we saw in Seattle in 2012 could very well be the guy we should expect.

"You got me, babe."

Since donning Yankee pinstripes in late July of 2012 Ichiro saw his BABIP jump up to .337... an increase of 58 points. Now you may be thinking that his BABIP of .279 before the trade is an outlier, and not a good indicator of what to expect from Ichiro. Well, you could be right, seeing as how his career BABIP sits at .346. But allow me to point out that his BABIP in 2011, the year he hit .272/.310/.335, was .295. So we're not talking about a small sample size in which Ichiro was getting unlucky, since when you add up his 2011 and 2012 time with Seattle it equals 1,144 plate appearances.

Like I said, though... BABIP doesn't tell the whole story. What about Suzuki's line drive percentage after the trade to New York? That jump from .279 to .337 could be due to him hitting the ball harder. Sounds good in theory, but when we take a look at his LD% with the Yankees last season things don't look any better... 19%. That's right! Even though Ichiro wasn't hitting the ball as well in New York as he was in Seattle, 6.7% more of the balls he hit into play were falling for base hits.

Another thing to add to the argument that Ichiro was lucky in New York last year, and what we saw then should not be expected of him from here on out... Before being dealt to the Yankees, Ichiro was drawing walks in 4% of his plate appearances. After being traded, and seeing his batting line jump like Cody Ranson standing in front of a 60" box, Suzuki's walk percentage dropped almost in half to 2.1%. Seeing as how Ichiro wasn't hit by a ton of pitches after the trade, his OBP jump from .288 to .340 is also thanks to a run of good luck.

I don't mean to say that I expect Ichiro to hit .176/.237/.265 all season long. But what I am going to say is that he won't hit .322/.340/.454, and therefore those Yankee fans holding their breath for him to turn things around big-time can exhale, because I really don't think it's going to happen.

Funny, I did the same thing when I remembered that Ichiro is signed through 2014.

Yankees Will Honor Boston In Tonight's Game

The New York Yankees have announced that they will pay tribute to those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings in tonight's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees will have a moment of silence for the victims and families and then will play a Fenway Park favorite in "Sweet Caroline" after the third inning. The classiest franchise in all of sports just keeps on staying classy. Our prayers go out to everyone in Boston and everyone affected by the bombings whether directly or indirectly.

Game Thread: ARI vs. NYY 4/16

Eduardo Nunez is back in the Yankees lineup and is back at short stop so his wrist must be okay. Feel free to use the comment section to talk with us about the game or follow us on twitter @GreedyStripes and hang with us there.

Here is the Yankees lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkils 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C
RHP Ivan Nova

Hall of Fame Profile: Jack Chesbro

The third player inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee was Jack Chesbro.

Full Name: John Dwight Chesbro

Born: June 5, 1874  Died: November 6, 1931

Nickname(s): Happy Jack

Hall of Fame Induction: 1946 (by Veterans Committee)

Teams Played for: Pittsburgh Pirates (1899-1902), New York Highlanders (1903-1909), Boston Red Sox (1909)

Career Statistics (courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com):

Wins: 198 (113th)
Losses: 132
Winning Pct: 60% (118th)
Strikouts: 1265
ERA: 2.68 (75th)
CG: 260
Shutouts: 32
IP: 2896.2

ERA+: 111
WHIP: 1.152
WAR: 41.2 (156th)
20-win Seasons: 5
MLB Wins Leader: 2x
MLB Shutouts Leader: 2x


One of the lesser known Hall-of-Famers due to his time-period, Jack Chesbro actually played for the precursor of the Yankees as a member of the New York Highlanders.  He was inducted by the newly formed Veterans Committee in 1946.  Chesbro started his MLB career on July 7, 1899 after being sold by the Richmond Bluebirds to the Pittsburgh Pirates for $1500.  While not compiling monster statistics, one must realize that he only played in the Major Leagues for 11 years.  His 162-game averages over that 11 year period were 19-12 W/L, 24 complete games, 3 shutouts, 272 innings pitched, and 119 strikeouts.

He won 20 games an impressive 5 times in his career posting records of 21-10 and 28-6, respectively in 1901 and 1902 for Pittsburgh before heading to the New York Highlanders, formerly the Baltimore Orioles. In 1903 he won 21 games to 15 losses and a 2.77 ERA for NY.  The next year he went an astounding 41-12 with 48 complete games, 6 shutouts, 454 innings pitched, and 239 strikeouts.  Talk about a work horse! That year he faced 1720 batters only allowing 6.7 hits per 9 innings.  In 1905 he won 19 games and added another 21 wins in 1906 before falling to 10 wins each in 1907 and 1908.  Not totally impressive numbers in his career but he was dominant for a good 5 year period.  His 41 wins in a season is a record that is considered unbreakable due to current baseball practices where pitchers get between 32-36 games started per season maximum.



3. Pictures sourced from WikiPedia

Arizona Diamondbacks @ New York Yankees 4/16

The Yankees will play their first interleague match up starting tonight with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees will send Ivan Nova to the mound after being skipped in Cleveland after the rain outs. The Diamondbacks will send Brandon McCarthy to the mound to face him. Interestingly enough both Nova and McCarthy are 0-1 with exactly a 7.71 ERA each. The game will be televised at 7:05 pm ET on YES, MLB Network, and MLBTV.

Buy your Yankees tickets here

Game 14 Lineup: Diamondbacks vs. Yankees

Lineup vs. D-Backs:

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C

RHP Ivan Nova (0-1, 7.71 ERA)