Ichiro Suzuki is chasing an 84-year-old record that has barely even been challenged in that time. Can he get there? Joe Sheehan looks at his chances.
I don't get the same thrill out of watching Ichiro play as others do, and as I've pointed out before, the style points people are so willing to grant him mean that he'll perpetually be overrated. In his best seasons, he'll be an above-average player wrongly considered an MVP candidate. In others, he'll be an average player called "above average." In any case, his offensive value is entirely dependent on how high a BA he can put up.
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I was at Safeco Field on Tuesday, watching a fast-moving game that was on pace to wrap up 3-2 Mariners in about two and a half hours, and ended up with one of the longest, craziest games I've ever attended.
I scored this game. I've been working on an article about scoring and finding a good card to match your style, and thought I'd finally settled on one. This game, of course, became the torture-test for a scorecard:
Q: When are 93- and 90-win seasons not success?
A: When you're the Seattle Mariners.
By the standards of most teams in the baseball, and by the standards of their own history, the Mariners' last two years have been excellent ones. They've won 183 games, been in two pennant races, drawn three million people in both years, and made a good amount of money. The problem is that in neither season did the team make the playoffs, despite spending four months of each year in first place and having a pretty good lead over their rivals as late as August.
Let's focus just on this year. Where did things go wrong? On August 6, the Mariners were 69-43, and had a three-game lead on the A's in the AL West and over the Red Sox for the AL wild-card slot. From that day until today, the Mariners went 21-26, losing 10 games in the standings to the A's and seven to the Sox, being eliminated from any potential playoff spot last night. The Mariners had actually been treading water since June, when they peaked at 48-22 on June 18 with a win over the Angels.
Why isn't Eric Gagne the top-ranked reliever in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus measures? Does Ichiro deserve to be included in discussion for AL MVP? What the heck is a GWHBPRBI? These questions and more discussed in a brand new edition of From The Mailbag.