Over/under: Ichiro's batting average

January, 27, 2012
1/27/12
10:38
AM ET
Ichiro Suzuki has started 1,733 games during his Mariners career, and all but 13 of those starts have come as the leadoff hitter.

However, following the worst season of his career, manager Eric Wedge said Thursday that he's considering moving Ichiro out of the leadoff spot.

"It's as much to do with his teammates as it has to do with him with regard to the collective nine that we're putting down on paper," Wedge said. "I haven't made any firm decisions. I made it very clear over the winter I was thinking about it. I'm even further down the road to where I'm leaning in that direction to have [Suzuki] hit somewhere else."

Of course, what it really has to do with is the fact that Ichiro hit .272 in 2011 with a .310 on-base percentage, 40 points below his previous career-low. Mariners leadoff hitters (Ichiro played 161 games) ranked 25th in the majors in OBP and 28th in OPS. They ranked last in runs scored.

So today's over/under: What will Ichiro hit in 2012? Now 38, does Ichiro have a rebound season in him? His walk and strikeout rates remained close to his career norms, but the big issue was a .295 average on balls in play, well below his career mark of .351. His line-drive percentage was only 1 percent less than his career average, but his rate of infield hits was down nearly 3 percent. He definitely appeared to have lost a step but it's also possible that he was just hitting into a lot of bad luck.

What do you think? I'll set the over/under at an even .300, 28 points higher than he hit in 2011 but 15 points less than his 2010 mark.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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