Well folks, Spring Training is officially over for the New York Yankees, and they now look forward to starting their season tomorrow afternoon against the Boston Red Sox. The rosters have been set, and there is no doubt about the fact that the Yankees this year look much different than the Yankees that we saw last year. One player who has remained with the team from the latter portion of 2012 to this new season is Ichiro Suzuki. So just one day away from the games actually meaning something, what numbers can we expect Ichiro to put up?
As always, this analysis will take a look at batting average, home runs, and RBIs.
This is actually a pretty tough statistic to predict in Suzuki’s case. On one hand, there’s the fact that the last time he hit over .3oo was in 2010, and on the other hand, there’s the fact that he hit .322 when he came over to the Yankees last season. Part of me believes that he will hit at least .300, and the other part of me feels that he will only hit around .285. The big unknown factor in this is whether or not a “change of scenery” keeps Ichiro locked in. With the Seattle Mariners, Ichiro knew that the team would probably not make the postseason, so it was almost like he became bored with them. With the Yankees though, Ichiro has something to play for as the Yankees are constant contenders. Especially in an AL East that will very likely be competitive, it gives Suzuki even more incentive to hit well. I’m not really positive with this prediction, but I’ll say that Ichiro bats at least .300.
It is well known that Ichiro’s value lies in his defense, speed, and timely hitting. He has never shown himself to be a power hitter in the MLB, but there are tons of reports that say Ichiro could hit a home runs any time he wanted to. We saw him hit some very important home runs with the Yankees last year, and he seemed to enjoy hitting balls out to right field. This is evidenced by the fact that he hit five home runs in 67 games for the Yankees. Yankee Stadium is also more of a hitter’s park than Safeco Field is. Through 95 games last year with the Mariners, Ichiro only hit four home runs. I think we will definitely see a spike in Ichiro’s home run numbers this year. Definitely not around his career high – 15, but I would say that 10 isn’t out of the question.
For the majority of his career, Ichiro has batted first in the lineup. This has given him less opportunities to drive in runners. With the shape the Yankees are currently in, we know that Ichiro will be batting second behind Brett Gardner for the time being. Once Derek Jeter returns, Ichiro might even be put lower in the order. This all bodes well for him and RBI opportunities. Ichiro last year had 55 RBIs, which is around average for his career. Expect more of the same in this category, and I really do mean more of the same as I think he will once again have 55 RBIs.
Totals: ~.300/ 10 HR/ 55 RBI
So there you have it, I think Ichiro will have himself a very good season and will once again get an All-Star nomination. I think being in pinstripes has rejuvenated Ichiro’s career, and I can’t wait to see how he does in 2013.