Of Arms and Two Men, Ichiro and Vlad
This comes as no surprise after reading Eric Neel’s piece from yesterday on the strongest arm in baseball, which he said belongs to Vlad Guerrero. But Neel also said this:
In fact, [A's third base coach Ron] Washington says, sometimes smart is running on Guerrerro. As powerful and aggressive as he is, his lack of accuracy makes him beatable. A guy like Ichiro will almost always read the situation, make a determination about whether to let fly or not. Guerrero on the other hand, tends to throw first and ask questions later.
“Vlad has a hell of an arm,” Washington said, “but if you talk about accuracy, he’s lacking. He has super power, but he doesn’t always know where the ball is going to go and he sometimes makes unnecessary throws. When I decide if I’m going to take a chance, I’ll take a chance on him before I will on Ichiro.”
Draw your own conclusions about the in-game implications.
Olney’s article speculates that Japanese players like Ichiro and Hideki Matsui have simply practiced the types of throws outfielders need to make in games more than their stateside counterparts have. It’s still customary in Japan to make throws to each base from your outfield position before games start.
The conclusions of the article are hedged a bit, though, since Olney says Ichiro’s most-accurate-arm status is a “consensus among some scouts and executives.”
This is a great phrase that I am going to steal. Isn’t everything a “consensus among some,” as long as more than one person believes a particular thing to be true?