Ichiro’s Japan-era Home Runs

» 05 February 2009 » In npb »

While I was digging up video clips for my recent profile of Norichika Aoki, I found a couple of Ichiro highlights that I thought were worth posting. Ichiro’s style of hitting is known as furiko dahoh in Japan, which roughly translates to “pendulum hitting technique”, named for the way he leans back and then lunges forward through his swing. Ichiro shortened up his stride and cut down on the movement his swing after moving to Seattle, so he’s much less pendulum-atic now.

These home runs show the evolution on Ichiro’s swing while he was still in Japan:

Ichiro has changed his approach quite a bit since moving to MLB — he’s shortened his stride, cut down on his movement, and become more of a back leg hitter focusing on making contact and taking advantage of his speed. In Japan, he used his lower body to generate a lot more power and was able to turn on weak breaking pitches. He wasn’t renowned for his power in Japan, but was always good for a .500+ slg pct.

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  1. Patrick
    06/02/2009 at 12:10 am Permalink

    I remember being at Seibu Stadium for one of the first Ichiro-Matsuzaka matchups, it was a huge event.

  2. Patrick
    06/02/2009 at 6:47 am Permalink

    Having broken the 200 hit barrier in 1994 in his first full season, Ichiro decided to convert to being a slugger in 1995. If you look at his stats, you’ll notice that he jumped from 13 to 25 home runs that year, while his batting average plummeted from .385 to .342 (still #1 in the Pacific League).

    My impression at the time was that he just decided to become a power hitter to show that he could do it that year. People were making a big deal about his poor start, though, and blaming it on his newfound interest in power hitting. (It seemed to me that he got off to a bad start every year, but I could be wrong.)

    But after 1995, Ichiro went back to his furiko old self, although he was unable to repeat that 1994 hitting binge.

    It is said that Ichiro can hit home runs whenever he want to (like saving home run #100 to be while facing Matsuzaka). I honestly don’t know to what extent that is a myth.

  3. Patrick
    06/02/2009 at 8:23 am Permalink

    Ichiro seems to be able to catch pitchers off guard and hit homeruns at will, occasionally, because he’s known as a slap hitter so pitchers probably don’t ever suspect him swinging for the fences. His 200th hit in 2007 was against the Rocket, a homerun. He hit the first pitch from Jake Peavy in the game against the US in the first WBC, a homerun. And there are other Ichiro homeruns that come at a special time. But Ichiro himself has said that if he becomes more of a slugger, he won’t be able to catch these pitchers off guard.