During our rankings conference call for the outfielders I told the others guys that the word on the street was that Ichiro may be moved out of the leadoff spot for the Mariners. I posed the scenario that he’d land in the 3 spot. I kid you not it was crickets followed by, “that’s about the most asinine thing ever.” After a few spring training games it looks like good ole Nashy was on the same page as Mr. Wedge, the Seattle manager.
I immediately texted Clave and Dixon: “Who called it? This guy!”. The first text back: “I wouldn’t want credit for calling such a dumb idea…”; second text: “I’m with Dixon…” I will now refer to those 2 naysayers as the CrackerJerks for the remainder of this post!
The Fact is that Seattle doesn’t have much, and what they do have just ain’t what it use to be. Ichiro is not the prototypical sabermetric lead-off guy. He is a contact hitter with great speed who does NOT take many walks. So for me the move is not crazy. It may not work, but it is not crazy!
Ichiro can hit the ball into play and get on base, and doing so effectively moves guys into scoring position, racking up some RBIs in the process. Besides, who else on this team would be a good fit for the Opening Day heart-of-the-order hitter? Justin Smoak? Jesus Montero? Chone Figgins?! I think not. And while I do believe Montero is the #3 hitter of the future for this team, he needs a little less pressure to get his feet wet.
How is this for an opening day line-up for the M’s?
OK, now some of these numbers were projected for players at their normal spots in the line-up or before they were traded. So allow me to tweak them just a tad to reflect this new line-up holding:
Some of the projections didn’t change at all, while some – Ichiro and Montero – change pretty drastically.
Of course, I don’t expect Ichiro to be a 30/30 guy all of the sudden, but reports are that he came in to ST with a wider stance at the plate for more balance. So odds are he knew about his move to the 3 hole earlier than we did. Also, if anyone has seen him take BP you know that he certainly can hit the ball over the fence when allowed to do so. So I wouldn’t be shocked at 15 HRs from him this year (again IF he sticks in the 3 spot).
No guarantees that works, of course, and who knows where Jesus Montero finished the season. He will probably be moved to 4 or 3 by the end of this year.
This is not a line-up that I’d take many guys on my fantasy team, but there are some intriguing things to watch during spring training.
What do you think? Does Ichiro stick hitting at #3? Let us know in the comments.