Dave Boling, in today's News Tribune:
That's not overstating it. If this slender 31-year-old import from Japan could, say, bat .400, it would rate as the most impressive individual accomplishment we've seen on fields and courts and diamonds in these precincts.
So, it "wouldn't take much" for Ichiro to bat .400?
And I think Willie Bloomquist accomplishing that feat would be much more impressive.
Of course, Ichiro's career batting average heading into the season was .328, so that was actually a normal start.
Actually, it made the achievement that much more prominent and garish, since it was the only thing worth paying attention too for most of the season.
Let's round it out for mathematical purposes. If he gets 700 at-bats, Ichiro would need 280 hits to reach .400. That's 18 more than he had last year in 704 plate appearances.
In a 26-week season, he needs fewer than one more single a week to become an international legend.
And he needs one fewer single a week to fall to being a .347 hitter. What's easier: getting more hits or making more outs?
Ichiro is a career .339 hitter, and he averages 4.29 at bats per game. Based on his BA and average number of AB's, he has an 83.1% chance of recording at least one hit in any given game. Squaring that figure gives Ichiro a 69% chance of recording at least one hit in two consecutive games.
His odds of getting at least one hit in 56 consecutive games are .003%, or once every 319 opportunities. In other words, over a 17,884 game span - just over 110 full seasons - you could expect Ichiro to put together a 56-game hit streak once.
Going by last season's .372 BA and 4.37 AB/game, Ichiro's chances of tying the hit streak are .039% - once every 26 opportunities, or once over a 1435-game (about 9 seasons) span.
Over the post-break portion of last season, JT Snow hit .387. For the month of August, .452.
Add it up and get him off to a good April, and it's likely we could be on .400 watch all summer.
Ichiro hit .429 last spring, and followed that with one of the worst months of his career.
Yeah, it has to do with the odds, not the strain. The Elias Sports Bureau estimates that the chances of a career .300 hitter reaching .400 in 600 at bats is one in 1,919,940,000,000,000.
Ichiro's only missed 14 games over four seasons, and he's still 61 points away from .400.
Pretty worthless support.
There's a case to be made for Ichiro having a shot at .400 - if you pick up an issue of Grand Salami this month before a ballgame, you'll see that I wrote an article that touches on that very subject. As a speedy contact hitter who doesn't strike out, doesn't walk much, and who puts the ball on the ground, Ichiro gives himself the best odds in baseball of getting a hit in any given game.
Dave Boling didn't make that case, and the result is a pretty weak article.
(Opening Day: just over four hours away!)