Ichiro Suzuki was one series away from playing in his first World Series. (Image: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE)

Grading the Yankees: Ichiro Suzuki


Perhaps one of the more undervalued players of this Yankees’ team in 2012 was none other than Ichiro Suzuki. I was at work and just happened to see it on my phone when we got Ichiro back in July. I scratched my head and pondered why the Yankees traded for him. It wasn’t long after that I stopped questioning this move because the sheer genius of it blew my mind. A lot of people said despite it being Ichiro that he was washed up and didn’t have much left in the tank. Oh boy how he proved them wrong. While I don’t think Ichiro warrants more than a three-year deal, he still has plenty of value in him.

**Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘Grading the Yankees‘ articles.**

What I mean by undervalued isn’t necessarily that people thought Ichiro went unnoticed, but that too many people were skeptical of him. I’ll admit, at first I was too, but sometimes guys just need a change of scenery and that seemed to be the case with Suzuki.

Ichiro’s 2012 can be looked at in many ways. For some it was a reminder that Ichiro who turned 39 in October is not getting any younger. For others it was a reminder that the gas tank is not yet empty and perhaps may be that way for years to come.

Let’s a take look at Ichiro’s 2012 offensive stats with the Seattle Mariners and Yankees:

  • Mariners: 95 games, .261/.288/.353, 28 RBIs, 49 runs, 15 stolen bases, 17 walks, 84 OPS+, 20 XBH
  • Yankees: 67 games, .322/.340/.454, 27 RBIs, 28 runs, 14 stolen bases, 4 walks, 114 OPS+, 14 XBH

Now it clearly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that Ichiro’s resurgence as a Yankee was rather incredible. Aside from the runs scored and walks, Ichiro was either at, or surpassed his numbers with the Mariners in 28 less games. His OPS+ is rather amazing too. As we all know, Yankee Stadium is a hitter’s ballpark and Ichiro isn’t really known for his power, but he was able to hit five home runs at home.

What a lot of people failed to realize about Ichiro is just what the stats show, how he was able to bounce back from his rather lethargic time in Seattle. People focused on next year and even 2014 and what Ichiro would bring to the club then. It’s understandable to have legitimate concerns about the future, but come on people, let’s live in the present for once. What 2012 showed us was that Ichiro still has the durability to go a long way. He played in all 162 games this season and was only 22 hits shy of 200.

Defensively, Ichiro had some new territory to cover in left and center field. With that though, he accepted the challenge and he what he does best, make outs. Ichiro made no errors with the Yankees in the outfield and his versatility between all three outfield spots really helped the Yankees in a jam. While he isn’t necessarily Brett Gardner, Ichiro is a one-of-a-kind player who can still shine defensively.

Comments: 

  • Effort reflects ability
  • Accepts responsibility
  • Has positive attitude toward work
  • Listens to and follows directions
  • Positive role model for peers

Grade:

A - That is not an A-. It’s an A, and a well deserved A. Perhaps it’s a bit presumptuous of me to give a player we only had for 67 games and two series in the postseason an A, but what the heck, why not? At the end of the day, we still are talking about a player who won 10 Gold Gloves in a row alongside winning Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. Also, he owns the single-season hits record as well. If you’re the Yankees, you would be absolutely crazy to not re-sign him. Brian Cashman doesn’t have to go overboard with re-signing Ichiro, maybe two years with a possible third at the right price. With Nick Swisher pretty much gone at this point, right field is a vacant spot. For Ichiro, it’s a place he calls home and New York should welcome him back with open arms.

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