March 23, 2005

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Ichiro's batting like it's 2004 (Jim Street, 03/22/2005, MLB.com)

Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki has at least one hit in each of the 12 Cactus League games he has played this spring and tacked on a 4-for-4 performance Monday night to spur Seattle to a 12-4 victory over the Rockies at Hi Corbett Field.

He singled, stole second and scored in the first inning; singled home a run in the second; singled, stole second and scored in the fourth; and tripled in the sixth, departing for a pinch-runner.

The Major League's single-season hit king raised his spring average to .579 (22-for-38). The two-time American League batting champion has a .610 on-base percentage, has walked three times and still hasn't struck out.

The club record for most hits in a spring is 35, set by Carlos Guillen in 1999.

"It's a lot of fun hitting behind him," Jeremy Reed said. "It seems like he's always in midseason form."

Asked if he's ready for the regular season to start, Ichiro said, "I'm not sure yet."


He's going to hit .400 this year.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2005 6:19 AM
Comments

I agree. While I had seen video of Ichiro, and was awed by the numbers he was putting up, I never fully appreciated him until a few years ago when the Braves played a three game series in Seattle that I watched on TV. The man simply dominated the games-- all three were dramas revolving around what would Ichiro do. Many years ago, I caught a four game series in Atlanta between the Braves and Pirates when Clemente was on a tear. Same thing, He did everything but sell popcorn. Until Ichiro, I hadn't seen that kind of dominance for more than a game or two since. The damndest thing is that he keeps getting better

Posted by: Dan at March 23, 2005 10:04 AM

He can't hit for power and, as can be seen from the statistics quoted in the article, is a bit of a free-swinger. He won't hit .400 simply because he doesn't walk enough, he will swing at enough bad balls to cause him to get more outs than he should.

Posted by: bart at March 23, 2005 10:25 AM

If he decides he wants to hit .400, he can easily plug the holes in his game.

Posted by: Dan at March 23, 2005 11:04 AM

Ichiro was nigh unstoppable when he first came over, because everyone misunderestimated him, and then had no clue how to pitch to him. Then the pitchers figured out how to pitch to him, and his numbers dropped a bit. Last season, he figured out how to hit those pitchers anyway. If he does all season what he did the last half of 2004, there's no reason he can't hit .400.

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2005 11:37 AM

I agree with Bart. To hit 400 he is going to have to learn how to walk. He wouldn't be as much fun to watch if he makes that change though. My totally biased prediction: The Mariners are going to ride him to the series (if the pitching holds up).

Posted by: Pat H at March 23, 2005 12:30 PM

He hit .429 after the break last year without starting to walk.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2005 12:38 PM

Pat, don't get my hopes up like that! Though I like your caveat the size of the Grand Canyon.

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2005 12:53 PM

Dan: "holes?" OK, not the ultimate base stealer and doesn't 'go yard' as much as the roid-boys do, but...he's no slouch in the outfield?

Pat/Timothy: Ditto. Even so, I'll drive 5 hours with my son & nephew in tow and pay ridiculous prices for bad beer in order to watch them try.

Posted by: John Resnick at March 23, 2005 1:04 PM

"pitching holds up"

Huh? In order to be considered "mediocre", the whole Mariners pitching staff needs to improve. Sorry, for this team a great year will be one where they win more than they lose. I expect 74-88.

Also note that during his two year slump, from 2002 to early 2004, Ichiro! was trying to hit for power, to Americanize his game, at the expense of placing the ball.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 23, 2005 1:27 PM

Raoul:

Assuming Moyer returns to at least decent form and Bobby Madritsch is for real, all they need is Joel Piniero and Gil Meche healthy and Felix Hernandez by June. (Hope springs eternal...)

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2005 1:36 PM

That's a lot of ifs. And you didn't even touch on the relief staff.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 23, 2005 1:51 PM

It's March. All there are is ifs.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2005 2:00 PM

Won't happen.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 23, 2005 11:02 PM

oj,
I'm with you on the ifs. The pitchers have the arms, it's their heads I worry about. The improved offense should make the pitchers more comfortable. Last year they were worried that they had to be near perfect to win.(for good reason)

Raoul, if you can't be positive (and make outrageous predictions) about our team now, when can you?

Posted by: Pat H at March 23, 2005 11:39 PM

The M's pitching was firmly middle of the road last year. An ERA of 4.76 isn't good by any stretch, but it was roughly the same as the Yankees (4.69) and certainly should should have given a better W/L than they had--and now that they've got one of the better hitting lineups in baseball, it will. In fact, while we're making outrageous predictions, I'll predict an even flip of the W/L numbers--99-63.

Posted by: Timothy at March 24, 2005 4:58 PM

"Optimists can never be pleasantly surprised." I learned about outrageous spring predictions in the 70s with the White Sox. Besides, the Mariners had their outside the curve year in 2001.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 24, 2005 9:25 PM
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