So, recently, Eric Wedge has made news by talking about how Ichiro isn’t producing enough out of the three hole, despite the fact that he’s been one of the team’s best hitters to date. In order to keep this narrative going in the face of factual evidence to the contrary, people have started to point out Ichiro’s batting line with runners in scoring position, because of course we should be making judgments about a guy based on 39 plate appearances.
Anyway, it’s true that Ichiro hasn’t been great with RISP this year. Here’s how his situational splits break down:
Bases Empty: .298/.330/.393, .318 wOBA
Men On Base: .281/.338/.391, .314 wOBA
RISP: .206/.282/.324, .257 wOBA
Now, here are Ichiro’s career situational split numbers:
Bases Empty: .326/.356/.427, .344 wOBA
Men On Base: .316/.392/.396, .330 wOBA
RISP: .317/.424/394, .331 wOBA
You can look at 39 plate appearances and decide that Ichiro can’t hit with men in scoring position, or you can look at 1,500 plate appearances and realize that he can. It’s really up to you, but what kind of conclusion you draw says a lot about your understanding of how the game actually works. People extrapolating from Ichiro’s 2012 RISP numbers either don’t have a grasp of how to actually use numbers or they’re pushing a predetermined agenda and won’t let facts get in their way. In some cases, both statements might be true.
But, hey, if you insist that 2012 situational data is meaningful, here’s some other names of guys who aren’t fit to hit in the middle of a batting order based on their RISP data to date:
Jose Bautista: .203 wOBA
Justin Upton: .209 wOBA
B.J. Upton: .215 wOBA
Jesus Montero: .229 wOBA
Troy Tulowitzki: .234 wOBA
Travis Hafner: .235 wOBA
Justin Morneau: .259 wOBA
Robinson Cano: .261 wOBA
Media members – you don’t have to believe whatever Eric Wedge tells you. He’s wrong an awful lot. Think for yourself, look up the facts, and don’t just repeat his ramblings.