Giancarlo Stanton is a 6-foot-6, 249-pound muscle monster in the prime of his career.
Ichiro Suzuki is a wiry 43-year-old who weighs 173 pounds.
Stanton’s clobbered 56 home runs so far this season. Ichiro’s hit three.
All things considered, the result of a home run derby between these two Miami Marlins teammates should be a foregone conclusion, right?
Not so fast. In a recent ESPN feature on Stanton, Fredi Gonzalez, the team’s third-base coach, revealed Ichiro has some serious power:
“When Ichiro is in (Stanton’s batting practice) group, they play a game where it’s 3-2, bases loaded. A home run counts as four runs. Ichiro has some juice, and one day he had an immaculate round. He had four home runs on four pitches. Stanton hit only three out, and Ichiro beat him.”
This was no fluke. Last year, former Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds stated Ichiro was capable of winning the real Home Run Derby.
While Ichiro may be able to launch balls over the fence in batting practice, he’s never hit more than 15 home runs in a season. That’s largely because his focus has always been more on generating contact and getting on base.
“I think I’m the type of hitter that the pitches that I can get hits on I feel like it’s pretty wide, a bigger strike zone than it would be for a home run hitter,” Ichiro told the Sun-Sentinel earlier this year. “They are more looking for that one pitch. I’m more about making any adjustment to get a hit on any pitch.”