Ichiro Has A New Role
Reports out of the Seattle Mariners spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona on Tuesday morning have Mariners manager Eric Wedge moving Ichiro Suzuki to the number three spot in the batting order for the upcoming season.
Wedge has stated that Ichiro gives the club the best chance at scoring runs this season, a spot that the Mariners desperately need to improve upon from the past few seasons.
Wedge also went on record saying he is giving Chone Figgens “the first shot” at hitting lead off for the Mariners this season.
With that in mind, I give you five things to expect out of Ichiro Suzuki batting third for your Seattle Mariners in 2012!
1. Runs galore
If Figgins can get his bat going once again, and Ackley proves to be the big league hitter that he showed us a glimpse of last year, Ichiro will have multiple chances per game at knocking in runners. His gappers will be things of beauty, especially when two runs cross the plate.
2. Lethal speed one through three
As noted above, get Chone Figgins and Dustin Ackley on, and they will be a force to be reckoned with. Ichiro is such a dangerous hitter that the hit and run can almost be on during every situation. Or even a base hit through the infield will score at least one run.
Speed in hitters 1-3 can disrupt a pitchers timing, the defenses timing, and become very exciting baseball to watch. It will be strange at first to see Ichiro at the three spot, but I think Wedge is on to something good here.
3. Better pitches for the two and four guys
Depending on what Figgins does leading off a ball game, with Ichiro hitting third, Ackley will most likely see better pitches. If Figgins gets out, instead of Ackley seeing pitches in the dirt trying to induce a ground ball, he will see pitches up in the zone.
Same goes with the number four hitter. If Ichrio does his job of moving the runners up, the number four batter (whom I think will be Mike Carp), will see balls up in the zone with the pitcher trying to get Carp to pop up.
And we all know what happens when a breaking ball gets hung over the sweet spot of the zone. It gets crushed! This lineup will help the power numbers of whomever Wedge decides to go with at number four.
4. Power numbers increased
We have all seen the magnificence of Ichiro’s long ball in batting practice. Now, for the first time in his career, he will have a chance to showcase that power in live ball games.
His RBI totals will go up exponentially. Especially with the speed on base in front of him, one of his signature line drives will surely score two runs.
I’m most looking forward to seeing what his homerun total will be after this season though. I’m predicting anywhere from 25-30 HR’s this season, with an RBI total of 121. And maybe finally an appearance in the homerun derby!
5. More wins
The Mariners have one of the better defensive teams in baseball, and if they can score an average of even two more runs a ball game, that will come close to doubling their win total from last year.
The M’s lost a majority of their games by two runs or fewer. Starting pitching is good, and the bullpen is even better this year. The only thing lacking is run production.
With the 1-4 combo of Figgins, Ackley, Ichiro, and Mike Carp, those one runs losses will turn into two run wins.
Want to read more of my thoughts on this topic? I touched on this in a prior article: Chone Figgins to lead off for the Seattle Mariners?