Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/12/12
A renewal of vows between Ichiro Suzuki and the Yankees is beginning to take on an air of inevitability. I don’t know what the Yankees thought they were getting when they first brought Ichiro in, but he had good success down the stretch, and he expressed a willingness to re-sign. The Yankees need an outfielder, and they’re trying to avoid multi-year contracts. Weeks ago, Ichiro’s agent all but declared that Ichiro just wanted to stay where he was, and now Ken Rosenthal reports that a contract agreement is just about reached. Barring a complete surprise, Ichiro will play for the Yankees during the 2013 season. Which, of course, just a few months ago, would’ve been a complete surprise. You’re not even aware of how quickly the things around you are changing. Ichiro is on the Yankees. Michael Young is on the Phillies. Kevin Youkilis is on the Yankees too. Consider this reality. Had Ichiro performed poorly with New York, it stands to reason he wouldn’t be re-signing, because it stands to reason they wouldn’t want him. It would’ve been fascinating to see if a market would’ve developed had Ichiro struggled. He didn’t, though, batting well north of .300 with the Yankees, so of course they like him on a small contract. They’ll add a right-handed outfielder and then they’ll see how that goes come summertime. Ichiro’s stretch run added a good amount of value to his name, after a year and a half of hard times in Seattle. Ichiro and the Yankees seems to me like a good fit, given where both parties presently find themselves. Ichiro seemed to be a little rejuvenated, overwhelmed by the notion of actually playing for something, and the Yankees seem content to avoid big splashes. They saw Ichiro succeed, and they saw Ichiro blend into the clubhouse. The Yankees have reason to believe Ichiro’s still got something left in the tank. Yet what I find most interesting is how Ichiro’s numbers break down. Ichiro, in 2011, posted a 79 wRC+. Ichiro, with the Mariners in 2012, posted a 77 wRC+. With the Yankees in 2012, he posted a 114 wRC+, excluding the playoffs. He did that over 240 plate appearances, and it just so happens his career wRC+ is 110. Ichiro didn’t bounce back a little with the Yankees; he bounced back all the way, just about. As Ichiro aged, he tried to make adjustments, and there were indications early on in 2012 that he was trying to hit for more power. Through three months, he was less of a groundball hitter than ever before. This taps into a bit of Ichiro mythology — people who’ve seen his batting practice sessions swear that he can hit dingers on a whim. People always wondered if Ichiro had the potential to be a power hitter if he wanted. Ichiro always said he wouldn’t change his game. But it looked like he was kind of trying to change his game, and it wasn’t working. Ichiro homered four times last year as a Mariner, just once at home and twice in the U.S. Cellular bandbox. Things suddenly picked up after the trade. Ichiro homered five times as a Yankee down the stretch, and once more in the playoffs before the team was eliminated. I want to show you .gifs of all six of those home runs. I am now going to do that. These .gifs are ordered in the order in which they are presented. Does anything in particular stand out to you, about all of them? Let me know. I’ll also just tell you. You’ll notice that all six of the .gifs feature Ichiro pulling a dinger at home. After becoming a Yankee, Ichiro hit six dingers in Yankee Stadium, and zero dingers in not-Yankee Stadium. The home/road split, playoffs included this time: Home: .913 OPS, 151 plate appearances Road: .636 OPS, 132 plate appearances We know enough not to take samples that small too seriously. One of them has to be regressed down, one of them has to be regressed up, yada yada, small samples, we’re all math experts. This is basic stuff, but it also highlights something of potential interest. From Texas Leaguers, here’s Ichiro’s 2012 ball-in-play spray chart: Any and all of Ichiro’s power is pull power. As Ichiro’s skills have partially deteriorated, it would really help him to be able to hit for power going forward. He hit for power in Yankee Stadium, and that might be just the perfect stadium for a guy like Ichiro, at Ichiro’s age. This is the FanGraphs park factor guts page. Sort by “HR as L”. Your winner: Yankee Stadium, at 116. StatCorner shares this mathematical opinion. Not that you needed to be told how easy it is — relatively speaking — to hit a homer to right in New York. But it’s really really easy, relatively speaking. The short porch beckons, and it makes home runs not only of doubles and triples, but also of would-be routine outs. Yankee Stadium was not built with extending Ichiro’s major-league career in mind, but it could very well serve that purpose, along with all of the other purposes it serves. Ichiro does not have and never has had a power swing capable of launching the baseball 450 feet. He has a power swing capable of launching the baseball 350-400 feet, and Yankee Stadium’s right field is well within reach. In Seattle, maybe it wouldn’t have helped Ichiro very much to try to hit for more power. In New York, there are total bases to be claimed. That ballpark could keep Ichiro productive, and while Ichiro’s used to being productive on his own, I doubt he’d turn down a little help. God knows he was given pretty much zero help in any respect over much of the previous decade. Ichiro probably can’t just turn himself into a power hitter. In Yankee Stadium, though, he can get the closest, and while that means Ichiro just has to rely on Ichiro on the road, he might be in position to take unique advantage of the home environment. That’s a friendly porch, and now Ichiro knows it. There’s good sense behind this relationship. I don’t know how much Ichiro has left to give to some other ballclub. He might have plenty yet to give to the Yankees.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rondo fined $25K for attempting to trip Crowder

Logan Morrison curses out umpire CB Bucknor mid at-bat

Raptors jab Bucks on Twitter after Game 4 victory

Report: NBA GMs not hesitant to draft Lonzo Ball due to father LaVar

DeShone Kizer changes course, stands by Tom Brady-Cam Newton quote

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Nick Saban doesn't offer much praise of team for 'adequate' spring game

Dennis Schroder admits Mike Budenholzer wants him to avoid trash talk

WATCH: Miguel Sano throws punch as benches clear in Twins-Tigers game

Glen Coffee making NFL comeback after four years in Army, seven years away from game

Fan wears Clemson championship gear to Alabama spring game

NBA reportedly investigating incident involving Patrick Beverley, Thunder fan

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: David Fizdale and the Grizzlies won't go down quietly

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

25 times Mother Nature disrupted sports

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

Box Score 4/20: When Westbrook isn't enough

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

White House championship visits over the years

Biggest needs in the draft for every NFL team

The 'Baseball has been very, very good to its players' quiz

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: David Fizdale calls B.S.

Kris Bryant can become the next Derek Jeter — and more

The 'Baseball has been very, very good to its players' quiz

NHL youth movement: How the 2016-17 rookie class fared

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker