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Ichiro
Posted by Chris Liss at 5/10/2006 3:45:00 PM
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While it's well known in our circles that a contact machine like Ichiro will never generate as many runs created per game as the big boppers like Jim Thome and Adam Dunn, Ichiro's skill set is far more unique.

The guy broke the single season hits record, and he's *averaged* 226 hits a year. The guy has a career 36 percent hit rate on balls in play (30 percent is league average) because he gets down the line so fast, and he's got Vlad Guerrero's arm on a 5-9, 172 pound frame.

There are a lot of big power guys who get on base, and those are the ideal players to have if you want to score a ton of runs. But the Thomes, Dunns, Giambis, Delgados are all pretty similar. There skill sets are incredibly valuable, but not remarkable. The degree of difficulty of what they do is less than that of what Ichiro does, even if the easier feat is the more valuable.

If you want to build a team, go with the big boppers. But some feats of baseball artistry transcend their mere contribution to winning - hitting in 56 straight games is no better for your team than hitting in 30 straight, going 0-for-1 with two walks, and then hitting 25 straight, but the degree of difficulty makes it great. Similarly, hitting .400 with an OBP of .430 isn't any better than hitting .300 with an OBP of .450 (something that Todd Helton does every year), but it's still something that we appeciate because of how difficult it is to do.

Winning is the foremost goal, and while Ichiro might not contribute as much as Thome on that front, his artistry is more unique - and that might be more important and better for the sport.



Comments....

I like because he never gets hurt.......a leadoff guy who hits over .320 ushally means a lot of points for ones fantasy team....
Posted by Zenguerrilla at 5/10/2006 5:40:00 PM
 
The craziest stat (and there are a bunch) on Ichiro, a lefty, is since 2001 he has the highest batting average against lefties, .354, of anyone in baseball. That's nuts.

The thing that makes Ichiro fun to watch is that he's one of the few players (Bonds is another) who changes the way the game is played. For example, if there's a guy on third with Ichiro up, the infield can't play in to get the runner at home because Ichiro will slap the ball right passed the draw-in infield. Yet, if you play him at normal depth, you're still going to have a hard time getting Ichiro at first first because he is so fast. In a sport that has more "by the book" rules than any other, Ichiro breaks many of them. Now, that doesn't make him more valuable than a slugger, and it's arguable that Ichiro's is overvalued because his "remarkable skills" are often misjudged as "valuable skills."

Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/11/2006 3:45:00 PM
 

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