You may find it hard to believe, but it's true: Ichiro is awesome. The uniquely beloved Mariner is currently tearing up the league amidst a 24 game hitting streak, in which he's hit 3 home runs and posted an OPS just under 1.000. During his hitting streak, Ichiro's added 60 points to his on base percentage and 160 points to that OPS. This all comes on the heels of leading Mariners blog USS Mariner wondering aloud if trading Ichiro may be in the franchise's best interests. The "trade Ichiro" whispers are growing slightly louder, causing the Quote Machine himself to cryptically (typically?) sound off:
"I haven't heard that, but what I think about it is that when things are not going well, many people have different ideas, and that's only natural," he says. "If a crow has thought it, it would surprise me. But since it's human beings, it does not surprise me."
For reasons unknown, casual Mariners fans love to lob criticisms towards the Face of the Franchise. The Mariners lowly 9-15 record during his streak isn't lost on the peanut gallery. Some of the lunatic fringe likely believe there to be a connection between the two. From complaints that he doesn't dive in the outfield to belief that he doesn't steal bases with enough frequency, it's obvious that all the rain in the Pacific Northwest finally turned local residents loopy.
That a leadoff hitter with 78 career home runs has been intentionally walked 6 times already this year (third-most in baseball) should be solid indication that Ichiro criticism is way off. He's already built a nearly 2 WAR season and provided endless entertainment to his adoring throngs. Rare is the slap hitting singles machine who's at bats keep you glued to the TV, just as it's rare to see a big league player deviate from the usual 5 tool mold.
Ichiro's complete unique approach makes him nearly impossible to pitch. While he often seems to willfully flip balls into shallow left field, attempts to bury fastballs inside can just as easily end up in the right field seats. One of baseball's best fielders and baserunners. Losing him would be akin to losing an awesome, witty, prodigious child to Mariners fans. A process they're all too familiar with in Seattle.