Looking back through the batting orders throughout the years I was trying to find some sort of reason that Ichiro is getting less pitches to hit this year. Is it just because the AL has figured him out? Is it because he is hitting in front of Figgins who has been struggling mightily? These are the answers I was looking for.
This comes after a report by Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing on Brock and Salk. In Jeff's research he finds that Ichiro is getting pitches way more off the plate. My thought, is who is hitting behind him?
Just as a number 4 hitter is going to encourage the pitcher to throw to a number three hitter, I assume that the same has to work for Ichiro - considering at one point he was a feared hitter himself - not so much for a homerun, but to get hits anyway.
Here's a list of #2 hitters for the M's over the years:
2009 - Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Russell Branyan, Lopez, Betencourt
2008 - Lopez, Betencourt
2007 - Beltre, Jose Vidro, Lopez
2006 - Lopez, Beltre
2005 - Jeremy Reed, Randy Winn, Bloomquist, Betencourt
2004 - Winn, Olerud, Spezio
2003 - Randy Winn, Carlos Guillen
So after digging through the archives at www.baseball-reference.com I find out that pretty much all these guys with the exception of Adrian Beltre match who Figgins used to be as a number two hitter. So, with that being said, I don't think it's who is in the number two spot but how that person is doing.
Ichiro isn't getting out of his slump, and now we'll get to see if the proof is in the pudding as Figgins move to the 8th spot in the order today, replaced by Brendan Ryan.
C'mon Ichiro, we're all still expecting 200 hits this year!!!