March 26, 2005

4" = .400?:

New batting stance provides Ichiro all the right moves: Spring streak brings questions of .400, DiMaggio's record (JOHN HICKEY, March 26, 2005, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER)

It was the middle of last year when something odd happened to Ichiro Suzuki.

The man who'd won eight batting titles in the past 11 years decided to change his stance.

When you consider all the success he'd had, it was not easy to make the move.

But Ichiro took his narrow stance -- feet about 12 inches apart -- and widened the gap to about 16 inches.

He took his bat from about a 60 degree angle to maybe a 40 degree angle.

It was a huge risk.

Then he went on the tear of all tears. His average coming into July was .315. He'd had one great month, getting 50 hits in May. But he didn't reach 30 hits in either April or June.

Once the change was locked in, he had 51 hits in July, 56 in August and 50 in September/October. That spree took him to 262 hits, the most in one season in baseball history. [...]

"It was a difficult decision to make," Ichiro said. "I didn't feel real comfortable with it until July."

So a question was posed: Is Ichiro a different hitter now than he was last June 30?

The answer didn't come easily or quickly. Ichiro, sitting on a stool in Seattle's Peoria Sports Complex clubhouse, stretched a little, repositioned his legs a few times, then ran his hands through his dark hair, first left, then right. And repeated.

Finally he ran his answer through interpreter Allen Turner.

"It's not that I'm a different player, but I think I've been able to make less mistakes than in the past," Ichiro said.

Imagine the press contingents he'd have to face if he was threatening both Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2005 10:12 AM

I continue to go on record publicly supporting your prediction.

Posted by: Dan at March 26, 2005 12:09 PM

They'll walk him 300 times but he won't hit .400.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 26, 2005 12:40 PM

It's a good thing the Red Sox won a World Series. Otherwise, Red Sox Nation couldn't handle a threat to .400. What else would they have?

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at March 26, 2005 2:30 PM

Won't happen.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 26, 2005 3:34 PM

There is no reason to be so sceptical; he hit .425 for the entire second half of last year. As to the walks, he's a bad ball hitter, and having Beltre in the lineup doesn't hurt either.

Anyway, the media blitz could hardly be more intense than what he has dealt with his whole career. If anything, he thrives on the pressure. Consider that his first year in the ML produced a .350 average and an MVP award.

Posted by: Mike Beversluis at March 26, 2005 4:15 PM

The Mariner's hitting should be so much better this year, top to bottom, that, by being patient this year, he would get better pitches (and a better chance at .400) than he did last year. But, as was mentioned, he is a bad ball hitter and pitchers know they need not throw him strikes. I would love to see him do it, but his agressiveness will lead to a bad stretch that will keep him from hitting .400.

Posted by: Pat H at March 26, 2005 4:53 PM

I don't know about that. He's agressive, but he's also very smart. Bad games? Sure. A bad series or three, sure. But bad stretches of anything more than a week? I don't know about that.

Posted by: Timothy at March 26, 2005 9:15 PM

.290 is a bad strech for him - that's the advantage of being able to beat out an infield single.

Posted by: mike beversluis at March 26, 2005 10:31 PM

Is Ichiro better than Rod Carew or George Brett?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 28, 2005 11:40 AM