Ichiro Suzuki has been a Yankee for only nine games, but the future Hall of Famer is already approaching a franchise record. With a safety in every ballgame since joining the team, Suzuki is one series away from matching the longest hitting streak by a player beginning his pinstriped career.
OK, fine, not all hitting streaks are created equal. Even though Ichiro has matched Nick Swisher’s nine straight games, his OPS during that span has been but a fraction. Whereas Swisher pounded out 13 hits and four homers, while driving in 11 runs, by comparison, Ichiro has managed only one hit per game, including seven singles and no walks. As a result, the outfielder has posted a paltry OPS of .631, which is actually lower than his season rate of 0.641. Although hitting streaks tend to be noteworthy regardless of the underlying production, Ichiro’s string of nine straight games has disguised some of the early disappointment regarding his initial offensive contribution.
If Ichiro extends his “one-a-day” hitting streak to 10, he’ll not only inch closer to Don Slaught’s record of 12 straight games with a hit to begin a Yankee career, but also tie five others for the longest string of one-hit games in franchise history. The most recent player to accomplish the task was Steve Sax in 1990, but the most productive vitamin-style streak was turned in by Hall of Famer Joe Gordon, who made the most of his 10 hits by knocking in 11 runs to go along with an OPS of 1.075.
Should Ichiro surpass the quintet of Yankees’ one-hit masters, he can then set his sights on Ted Sizemore, who recorded exactly one safety in 16 straight games in June 1975 while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Over that span, the middle infielder compiled an OPS of 0.621, which although far from impressive, represented an improvement over the 0.597 rate that he posted for the entire season. As evidenced by the chart below, the list of players with the longest one-a-day hitting streaks doesn’t read like a “Who’s Who”, so, even if it means a hitless game, Ichiro might be better off not joining it.
When the Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki, there was some hope that the 38-year old would be re-energized by the trade and turn back the clock for a month or two. Although history suggests that’s not likely, there’s still time for Ichiro to fulfill that expectation. However, in order to do so, he’ll need more than one hit per game. Then again, vitamins are often taken to restore youth, so maybe there’s a method to Ichiro’s one-a-day streak?