Yesterday, in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki became the first player in MLB history to record 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons. Base-knock number 200 was a line drive up the middle on the first pitch to Ichiro in the fifth inning.
Ichiro is good, that's no secret. Hitting machine? Check. Speed to burn on the base paths? Got it. An arm to fear in right field? Hai (that's "yes" in Japanese).
One look at his career stats illuminates just how good he is—as in extraordinarily good.
Beyond this week's milestone achievement, take the following into account. Since his MLB debut in 2001, Ichiro has never batted below .300 in a season; and he has played in more than 150 games in every season except one.
Sorry for the statistical onslaught, but baseball is a numbers game. And those numbers are remarkable.
What's Ichiro's hitting secret? Well, the 10-time All-Star is a model of consistency in his approach and preparation. But another big factor, according to Mariners' performance specialist Allen Wirtala, is Ichiro's lean frame. "Having too much muscle mass in the front of your body can restrict your range of motion," he says. "The swing is very mechanical. You want to be flexible in front of your shoulders and chest so nothing gets in the way of executing those mechanics."
Rather than loading up on upper-body work, Wirtala recommends explosive exercises and balancing movements to maintain strength and avoid bulking up. This training philosophy was reinforced when Dr. Marcus Elliott, renowned performance expert and regular STACK contributor, joined the Mariners this season as director of sports science and performance.
"Baseball is kind of a monolithic sport," Dr. Elliott says. "They keep doing the same thing."
Not any more. Check out the following article and video for explosive exercises prescribed by Dr. Elliott. Perform them during your next workout to help break out of your batting slump.
Note: The following video features members of the Utah Jazz, but the training benefits span across all sports.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock