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I’ve gone about a week without a functioning e-mail address, but I think I’m
handling it well. My last offer to get it fixed was my left arm, but I think
the powers that be are holding out for the right one and a kidney to be
named later. I figure we’ll have a deal by the end of business today.

A guy gets to missing being called an idiot, you know?

Then again, the outage has coincided with my purchase of the Extra Innings
satellite baseball package, or as I like to think of it, video heroin.
There’s a rumor that I live with other people, and that outside my office,
there is a whole big world filled with sunshine and joy and laughter.
Whatever. I get seven to 13 baseball games a night in this room, and unless
the Dodgers elect to start playing games on San Gabriel Boulevard, I’ll take
my meals in here, thanks.

The best part? I haven’t heard
Harold Reynolds
in two weeks.

It’s a wonderful thing when you go from seeing certain players a few times a
year to five nights a week. At the top of the list for entertainment value
has to be Ichiro Suzuki. Last week, both Rob Neyer and I spent a few
electrons poking holes in the growing Ichiro legend, pointing out that his
lack of walks and power meant that he was a bit overrated so far.

Now, none of that is any different today (although Ichiro’s stats are better
following a strong week). Suzuki isn’t in the
Manny Ramirez/Juan
Gonzalez
class of AL right fielders, because he doesn’t have those
players’ power and isn’t going to post a .400 OBP. But watching him play,
you get a real sense of why people get so excited. He does have a unique
hitting style, a slapping downstroke that generates a lot of hard grounders
and line drives. He is very fast, so that style generates infield hits and
some leg doubles and triples.

Something I noticed is that he doesn’t seem to swing and miss very often (I
don’t have the data on that handy), which is the barrier to him collecting
walks, rather than any real lack of selectivity. He’s just not going to get
through many ABs without putting a ball in play. If he hits .340, that’s OK.
If he hits .300, it’s a problem.

He’s a tremendous outfielder, clearly capable of playing center field if
need be. About two weeks ago on KZNE radio in College Station, Tex., I
mentioned that everyone on the planet had seen the clip of Suzuki gunning
down the A’s
Terrence Long
at third base. I was wrong: the White Sox’s
Josh Paul
apparently missed it, as evidenced by him trying to
stretch a double in the top of the ninth last night. Suzuki fell down
on the play, recovered, chased down the ball and fired it to
Bret Boone,
who gunned Paul–merely the tying run with no one out–down at third base.

It was the kind of play you tell your kids you saw, and another clip for the
Ichiro file. That’s the thing about him: he’s a great player to watch, both
on defense and at the plaite. He’s the rare non-power hitter whose at-bats
you make sure you see, and the style he plays has contributed to his
reputation.

Ichiro does all the things not measured by OPS extremely well. His
baserunning and his defense mean that he’s a bigger contributor than a quick
glance at his stats will show, and that gives him value beyond his EqA or
OPS. Does that raise him to the level of a Ramirez? No, because you can’t
make up that kind of gap with a glove and legs.

But watching Suzuki makes it possible to understand why the Seattle fans
love him, and why he’s impressed so many people. Someone can be both a very
good player and overrated, and that is the purgatory in which Ichiro
currently resides.


Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by

clicking here
.