AlMoStLeGeNdArY, on 06 March 2012 - 09:10 AM, said:
Ichiro's BABIP last year was .295 his average for his career is .351. I don't believe that's age getting to Ichiro it's just bad luck. If his BABIP doesn't tank like it did last year you'll see his numbers go back up.
In 2009, Griffey returned to Seattle, had a decent season and got carried off the field.
I noted *BEFORE* the 2010 season that Griffey was done ... because a crash in BABIP is "routinely" a clear sign of waning ability ... not luck.
Griffey finished with a career BABIP of .287 ... which was basically identical to his BA (.284) for his career.
In 2009, while he managed a .745 OPS ... his performance was aided by a .196 ISO in 2009, (his best since 2007). In 2004, while his overall line was nominally acceptable, (though a .745 OPS for a DH is generally not acceptable), his BABIP was .220 in 2009. That was a 67 point plunge from normalcy. That is OUTSIDE the bounds of "lucky". The same argument about Sexson rebounding was made based on his BABIP being "off-the-charts" unlucky when he first tanked.
In 2010, Griffey managed to again post a .220 BABIP. But, his average was only .184, and his ISO plunged to .020. He was done, done, done, done, done. And I said as much during ST of 2010.
When one looks at Ichiro's 2011 stats and sees a .295 BABIP off a .351 career norm, one needs to understand, the WORST BABIP of his career was .316 ... and that was in the one season Ichiro "attempted" to be a power hitter, (2005), which is when he set his career high for ISO (.133).
Ichiro has been moved to #3 in the lineup - an "RBI" slot. So, he is expected to deliver more power. The one time when he tried this, it knocked about 40 points off his BABIP.
So, his 2011 season, he was 20 points under his previous worst BABIP ... which was established in his prime, while attempting to hit for more power.
While I appreciate that Ichiro has always stayed in good shape ... and I understand his adaptability has historically been off the scale ... and I will preface this by stating that if any 38-year-old is capable of completely retooling his game and make a successful go of it, Ichiro is such a guy ... the FACTS are these:
1) He set a career worst by 20 points in BABIP ... and was 56 points under his career BABIP average. That is "typically" a sign of lost *ABILITY*. If he were 31, then one would suspect injury. At age 37, the simplest explanation is loss of ability due to age. Just like Griffey, the odds of him regaining a .330+ BABIP is extremely low.
2) In 2011, he also set a career worst in ISO (.064). His career average is only .096 ... but after being over .100 in 4 of his first 5 seasons, he has been under .100 in 5 of the last six. Despite the discussions of how great Ichiro can be in regards to power during batting practice, the one time in his prime he attempted to expand his power game, he had one of his worst seasons. He has been moved in a position where he will be expected to hit for more power, when his history says this will make his overall performance WORSE, not better.
3) A significant reason behind Ichiro's hit success has always been his infield hit totals. For his career, he has a 12.7% infield hit rate. In 2011, he managed only 10%, (his second worst rate ... only 2005 ... the year he tried to hit for power ... was worse). Part of the reason he has managed to continue putting up great hit totals in 2009 and 2010 was he managed 50 and 53 infield hits those two seasons. In 2011, that dropped to only 36. Ichiro is NOT getting younger. The odds are high that this decline is related specifically to him being just a tiny bit slower, (and also impacts directly his BABIP). However, in addition to the natural decline from aging, in 2012, Ichiro is slated to hit third ... meaning people on base in front of him ... meaning greater possibility of forceouts ... meaning his number of infield hits is likely to suffer even more.
Honestly, if I had to guess right now ... this moment ... based on the math, his age, his 2011 performance, his lineup position ... his declining defensive performance ...
I'd say that odds are about even that if he struggles in 2012 ... something like 2011 ... a .260 average with no walks or power ... I think Ichiro gets hit 2,500 and announces his retirement. He enters the season at 2,428 ... that is 72 hits away from the 2,500 level. I see zero chance of him walking away without reaching that milestone. But, unless he does find a retooled swing that allows him to manage a .300 average ... (which I see as maybe a 10% chance of happening) ... this is Ichiro's final season in MLB.
I just cannot see Ichiro sticking around to be the worst hitter on the team. Given the lineup improvements around him, if he does produce something like a .260/.310/.320 line for any length of time ... he could, in fact, become the team's worst hitter this year.
While it is WAAAAAAY too early to write him off, the odds are not in his favor. He is 38 ... and he is not Benjamin Button.
As to the contention that Jeter "bounced back". Jeter dropped 120 points off his career OPS and "bounced back" to only 90 off his career OPS. Ichiro just posted an OPS 146 points below his career. A similar bounce gets Ichiro back to 116 under his career .. which would be a .675 OPS for the season.
So, here is the $18 million question. If any hitter other than Ichiro were hitting .675 while batting third in the lineup, what would be the proper thing to do?
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Adopt-a-player(s): Brandon Maurer - made the Majors!
Age 24 - LHP (as of 5/8/2013)
Brian Moran - 2013 1-1; 3.24-ERA; 12-G; 16.2-IP; 19-H; 0-HR; 2-BB; 24-K; 1.26-WHIP; 13.0-K/9; 12.00-K/BB (AAA)
Brian Moran - mnrs - 17-13; 163-G; 2.98-ERA; 242.0-IP; 212-H; 16-HR; 60-BB; 278-K; 1.12-WHIP; 10.3-K/9; 4.63-K/BB
Age 24 - RH - (2B/UT) - (as of 5/8/2013)
Stefen Romero - 2013 - 85-PA; 5-2B; 2-HR; 11-RBI; 1-SB; 0-CS; 5-BB; 15-K; .273/.329/.442 -- .771 (A+/AAA)
Stefen Romero - mnrs - 1079-PA; 61-2B; 41-HR; 177-RBI; 29-SB; 14-CS; 64-BB; 156-K; .314/.365/.527 -- .891
Age 22 - LH - (LF) - (as of 5/8/2013)
Dario Pizzano - 2013 - 104-PA; 3-2B; 3-HR; 16-RBI; 1-SB; 1-CS; 10-BB; 20-K; .287/.356/.415 -- .771 (A)
Dario Pizzano - mnrs - 354-PA; 21-2B; 7-HR; 45-RBI; 4-SB; 1-CS; 40-BB; 57-K; .333/.416/.479 -- .895
Age 22 - RH - (CF) - (as of 5/8/2013)
Jabari Henry - 2013 - 103-PA; 7-2B; 4-HR; 18-RBI; 4-SB; 2-CS; 18-BB; 10-K; .366/.476/.598 -- 1.073 (A)
Jabari Henry - mnrs - 353-PA; 22-2B; 12-HR; 60-RBI; 9-SB; 4-CS; 47-BB; 57-K; .298/.395/.515 -- .910
Age 23 - RH - (OF) - (as of 5/15/2013)
Jabari Blash - 2013 - 91-PA; 3-2B; 3-3B; 8-HR; 25-RBI; 6-SB; 1-CS; 8-BB; 26-K; .309/.374/.716 -- 1.090 (A+)
Jabari Blash - mnrs - 1080-PA; 502B; 13-3B; 42-HR; 151-RBI; 35-SB; 14-CS; 147-BB; 312-K; .260/.372/.482 -- .854