Mariners Insider Blog

Why Ichiro isn't batting third

The Seattle Mariners have juggled their lineup all season, looking for some way to put enough hits together to, like, score runs.

One thing they haven't done is drop Ichiro Suzuki down into the heart of the order. As a leadoff hitter, he's battin .352 with five home runs and 16 RBI.

The Mariners DH this season - Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Sweeney - has a combined .223 batting averagr, six home runs and 22 RBI.

Why not flip Ichiro's bat to, say, third in the order?

From manager Don Wakamatsu's perspective, changing Ichiro's comfort zone - he loves batting leadoff - seems counter productive. And the leadoff spot is one of the few the Mariners don't have to worry about.

Would moving Ichiro just create a different set of issues?



Any manager's job is to put his players in position to succeed, and do it as often as possible.

Ichiro leading off has done that, consistently. The fact that the No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup haven't consistently succeeded is not Ichiro's fault - nor is it Wakamatsu's.



When Adrian Belre swings at eye-high curves and Junior or Sweeney fly out to strand the runner at third, they have all been put in position to help the team win.

When they fail, the team fails. Batting Ichiro third won't hide those failures.



The Mariners regularly have runners at third base available to score on an out - the right kind of out - and the heart of the lineup hasn't delivered.

The problem is, Ichiro is most often that runner on third base. Drop him to third and it's entirely possible the only change will be that there are fewer threats.



Here's today's lineup:

Ichiro RF

Russell Branyan 1B

Adrian Beltre 3B

Ken Griffey Jr. DH

Jose Lopez 2B

Yuniesky Betancourt SS

Rob Johnson C

Endy Chavez LF

Franklin Gutierrez CF

Erik Bedard LHP

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