Ichiro has been traded to the New York Yankees. You may have heard. Another thing you have have heard is that Ichiro is left-handed. Well you probably didn’t “hear” that, you probably already knew it. That’s not really breaking news, which hand a 38-year-old superstar baseball player favors. But then I guess if we’re getting technical, you did hear it the first time it was told to you, unless you read it, in which case… you know what, let’s just move on.
Ichiro is left-handed, and the Yankees have a home ballpark that favors left-handed power. It’s 314 feet to the right field foul pole, a and 385 feet to right-center. I’m no scientist but I think those numbers are about one-half of Safeco Field’s. Ichiro is not a power hitter, but long have there been tale of his secret ability to crank home runs at will during batting practice, and that short porch is going to be inviting.
Ichiro was a Mariner for a long time. The stories of his batting practice were constant. It’s always been a fun and fake thing to say that if Ichiro simply wanted to, he could crank 25 or 30 homers a season by sacrificing a bit of batting practice. The skeptics, such as myself, scoffed at this notion. It helps that it’s a ridiculous notion. It’s a good strategy to save your scoffs for the ridiculous notions and not use them on not ridiculous notions. The point is I was skeptical of all this, and recently, perhaps for the first (and last) time ever, I actually witnessed Ichiro during batting practice. He hit a lot of home runs. Deep home runs. Ichiro delivered a constant stream of scorching line drives into the right field seats, sometimes twenty or thirty rows deep or into the second deck. I swear I’m not exaggerating when I say that about 50% of the contact Ichiro made during batting practice went over the fence. And I’d label that figure conservative. The myth, my friends, is true. I have witnessed it with my own eyes and I would not lie to you. Does this mean Ichiro is going to become a member of the Yankees and suddenly start cranking home runs all over the place? Of course not, but it was still a good story.
Honestly, I could envision a scenario where Ichiro does hit a few extra home runs to close out the season. There are a lot of terrible, non-Yankee non-Rays pitchers in the AL East this season, a surprising yet true fact. That Yankee Stadium fence is also so close to home plate it’s ridiculous and to top it all off it’s not even that high. It’s not even that high! The question posed by this silly blog post was “will Ichiro hit all sorts of home runs at Yankee Stadium?” the answer is nah, probably not, but maybe a couple more than you think. That’s not a very exciting answer but it’s an honest one. An honest answer with little evidence or facts in support of it. Forgive me, this very moment Ichiro is playing baseball in Seattle while wearing a Yankees uniform and I’m distraught and not myself.