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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ichiro Suzuki: is he a great hitter?

No, Ichiro Suzuki is not a great hitter despite the fact that he holds the major league record for most hits in a season and yesterday became at least the sixth professional baseball player to reach 4,000 hits.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Steroids are only an issue for home runs.

2000: Darin Erstad took a run at the MLB record for most hits in a season (George Sisler 257 in 1920); Erstad drew very little interest and fell short with 240...

2004: Ichiro Suzuki broke the 84 year old MLB record for most hits in a season with 262 hits. He received more attention than Erstad, in part, because of the Japanese media. However, media and fan interest paled in comparison to that in 1998 and 2001 for the assaults on the home run record. ..

Baseball fans are at once the best and worst. Baseball fans are more likely to know the records. Baseball fans are the least likely to break with tradition, modern metrics not withstanding. There is still too much attention given to batting average. If Ichiro Suzuki was attempting to bat .400 for a season that would get far more attention than his 262 hits. .400 would not be a record, merely an interesting number. It would be the 29th best.
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Ichiro Suzuki hits a lot of singles and led in singles for ten consecutive seasons: 2001 through 2010, then was third in 2011 and 2012.  That's about it.  His batting fame is based on totals, not averages.  But his totals are made up disproportionately of singles.  Ichiro had his highest batting average (BA) in 2004, the year he set the hit record: .372.  That's 262 hits in 704 at bats (AB).  Sisler had set the hit record by batting .407: 257 hits in 631 AB.

Ichiro led the American Conference in BA twice: .372 and .350 as a rookie in 2001.  He also hit .352 and .351 without leading.  However, Ichiro never led in On Base Average (OBA).  In fact his OBA reached as high as .400 only once: .414 in 2004.  In 1999 Tony Fernandez had the 500th best OBA of all time: .427.

Ichiro has a career OBA of .362.  Ted Williams leads with .482.  Ichiro is essentially tied at number 392 with Wally Joyner, Joe Medwick and Whitey Witt.

Ichiro led in hits seven times, in AB eight times.  Ichiro never led in Bases on Balls (BB), doubles (2B), triples (3B), home runs(HR), total bases (TB).

OPS ( OBA plus Slugging average (SLG) ): Ichiro is number 621: .778.  Babe Ruth leads with 1.1636.

That's because in SLG Ichiro is number 764: .416.  Ruth leads with .690.

OPS+ (adjusted for park and era):

Rank Player (yrs, age) Adjusted OPS+ Bats
1. Babe Ruth+ (22) 206 L
2. Ted Williams+ (19) 190 L
3. Barry Bonds (22) 182 L
4. Lou Gehrig+ (17) 179 L
5. Rogers Hornsby+ (23) 175 R
6. Mickey Mantle+ (18) 172 B
7. Dan Brouthers+ (19) 170 L
7. Shoeless Joe Jackson (13) 170 L
9. Ty Cobb+ (24) 168 L
10. Albert Pujols (13, 33) 165 R

600.   Ichiro Suzuki (13, 39) 112 L (tied with many)
+ Hall of Fame

Here is the best that can be said about the contributions of Ichiro Suzuki in the batter's box: his OBA during his first ten seasons in the majors: 2001 to 2010 (PA>=6000 and OBA>=.365)

Rk Player OBP PA From To Age G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Todd Helton .428 6187 2001 2010 27-36 1424 5123 927 1642 390 26 226 871 965 145 770 37 2 58 128 21 14 .321 .539 .967 *3/D COL
2 Albert Pujols .426 6782 2001 2010 21-30 1558 5733 1186 1900 426 15 408 1230 914 236 646 73 1 61 203 75 34 .331 .624 1.050 *37/59D64 STL
3 Lance Berkman .412 6313 2001 2010 25-34 1481 5220 931 1548 352 25 302 1017 989 136 1042 60 1 42 122 71 39 .297 .547 .959 3798/D HOU-TOT
4 Bobby Abreu .396 6919 2001 2010 27-36 1574 5797 1046 1685 407 28 211 992 1025 76 1237 27 2 68 115 291 92 .291 .480 .875 *9/7D8 PHI-TOT-NYY-LAA
5 Alex Rodriguez .394 6691 2001 2010 25-34 1513 5700 1130 1706 280 16 424 1236 809 78 1220 121 0 61 146 168 36 .299 .577 .971 *56/D TEX-NYY
6 Vladimir Guerrero .385 6096 2001 2010 26-35 1430 5437 911 1732 323 20 300 1029 546 195 656 67 0 46 194 142 62 .319 .551 .936 *9D/7 MON-ANA-LAA-TEX
7 Adam Dunn .381 6065 2001 2010 21-30 1448 4975 865 1246 266 10 354 880 990 107 1632 71 2 27 75 59 21 .250 .521 .902 *739/D CIN-TOT-WSN
8 Derek Jeter .380 6983 2001 2010 27-36 1509 6192 1080 1918 315 26 156 721 607 26 1000 104 56 24 169 215 48 .310 .445 .824 *6/D NYY
9 Ichiro Suzuki .376 7339 2001 2010 27-36 1588 6779 1047 2244 258 71 90 558 457 155 683 47 27 29 46 383 88 .331 .430 .806 *98/D SEA
10 Derrek Lee .375 6128 2001 2010 25-34 1438 5324 864 1544 356 23 261 851 705 62 1175 50 2 47 155 95 41 .290 .513 .888 *3/D FLA-CHC-TOT
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/22/2013.

Ichiro is number nine behind two of his current Yankee teammates, Rodriguez and Jeter.

Here are the tops in OPS+ 2001 through 2010 (PA>=6000 and OPS+ >=117):

Rk Player OPS+ PA From To Age G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Albert Pujols 172 6782 2001 2010 21-30 1558 5733 1186 1900 426 15 408 1230 914 236 646 73 1 61 203 75 34 .331 .426 .624 1.050 *37/59D64 STL
2 Alex Rodriguez 150 6691 2001 2010 25-34 1513 5700 1130 1706 280 16 424 1236 809 78 1220 121 0 61 146 168 36 .299 .394 .577 .971 *56/D TEX-NYY
3 Lance Berkman 147 6313 2001 2010 25-34 1481 5220 931 1548 352 25 302 1017 989 136 1042 60 1 42 122 71 39 .297 .412 .547 .959 3798/D HOU-TOT
4 Vladimir Guerrero 142 6096 2001 2010 26-35 1430 5437 911 1732 323 20 300 1029 546 195 656 67 0 46 194 142 62 .319 .385 .551 .936 *9D/7 MON-ANA-LAA-TEX
5 Todd Helton 139 6187 2001 2010 27-36 1424 5123 927 1642 390 26 226 871 965 145 770 37 2 58 128 21 14 .321 .428 .539 .967 *3/D COL
6 Adam Dunn 133 6065 2001 2010 21-30 1448 4975 865 1246 266 10 354 880 990 107 1632 71 2 27 75 59 21 .250 .381 .521 .902 *739/D CIN-TOT-WSN
7 Bobby Abreu 129 6919 2001 2010 27-36 1574 5797 1046 1685 407 28 211 992 1025 76 1237 27 2 68 115 291 92 .291 .396 .480 .875 *9/7D8 PHI-TOT-NYY-LAA
8 Derrek Lee 128 6128 2001 2010 25-34 1438 5324 864 1544 356 23 261 851 705 62 1175 50 2 47 155 95 41 .290 .375 .513 .888 *3/D FLA-CHC-TOT
9 Paul Konerko 123 6127 2001 2010 25-34 1483 5381 795 1506 273 3 313 949 624 57 912 66 0 56 181 6 2 .280 .358 .506 .865 *3D CHW
10 Derek Jeter 117 6983 2001 2010 27-36 1509 6192 1080 1918 315 26 156 721 607 26 1000 104 56 24 169 215 48 .310 .380 .445 .824 *6/D NYY
11 Carlos Lee 117 6382 2001 2010 25-34 1518 5784 833 1651 343 10 291 1016 487 47 709 36 1 74 156 101 38 .285 .341 .499 .840 *7/D3 CHW-MIL-TOT-HOU
12 Ichiro Suzuki 117 7339 2001 2010 27-36 1588 6779 1047 2244 258 71 90 558 457 155 683 47 27 29 46 383 88 .331 .376 .430 .806 *98/D SEA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/22/2013.

Ichiro is number 12.

So on what basis would Ichiro Suzuki be considered a great hitter?

2 comments:

William Zee said...

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Aquaria said...

You're mixing up a lot of apples and oranges by comparing Ichiro, a contact hitter, with power hitters.

Nobody ever claimed that he was a power hitter, and I don't think anyone but idiots would count him as an all time hitter. But that he was a reasonably good contact hitter--yes, there's a case to be made for that. The HoF is full of people who are reasonably good.

What makes Ichiro interesting is that he has such a good career BA by hitting singles, almost entirely. I find that far more interesting than if he'd done it with huge SLG or OPS numbers, or any other nerd stat you want to throw out there.

It's a modest sort of accomplishment to be the kind of guy who can have a lifetime .318, from hitting so many singles, but it's an accomplishment, nevertheless.

I don't think very many people would argue that he definitely worked harder for that .318 than other guys with the same or higher average did. A lot of his singles weren't outs because he legged out a dribbler in the infield, or a flare in shallow center. Hitting the ball isn't all of getting hits--having the speed to get to the base is important, too, and a stat that doesn't show up anywhere.

He's a no-doubt first ballot HoFer, no matter what. Breaking the record he did, and having such a good, consistent career offensively and defensively will be more than enough to get him in there.