2013 statistics: 150 games, 555 plate appearances, .262/.297/.342, 7 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 1.4 bWAR
2014 status: second year of a two-year contract
When the Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki a week before the 2012 trade deadline, I was highly skeptical. After a 10-year run that saw him hit .331/.376/.430 from 2001-2010, he hit just .272/.310/.335 in 2011, and was hitting .261/.288/.353 when the Yankees acquired him. He really surprised me, putting up a .322/.340/.454 line in 67 games and 240 plate appearances. After the season, the Yankees surprised me (not pleasantly) by re-signing him to a two-year contract. At that point, all we could do was hope for the best - maybe he would continue the tradition of some other greats who were productive role players with the Yankees at the end of their careers, like Johnny Mize, Enos Slaughter, Darryl Strawberry and Tim Raines.
In a word, no. Ichiro wasn't a role player, starting 128 games and appearing in all but 10. His 75 OPS+ was the worst ever by a Yankee outfielder with 500 plate appearances. His .297 OBP was the fifth worst in team history by anyone with over 500 plate appearances. His .342 SLG was ninth worst in team history, behind a bunch of middle infielders. Among batting title qualifiers in 2013, his OBP was the fourteenth worst, his SLG was the sixth worst, and his OPS was fifth worst. He hit just .221/.253/.260 from August 3 through the end of the season, including .212/.254/.227 in September.
At least he played solid defense in right field, and stole 20 bases in 24 attempts.
Ichiro turned 40 on October 22 and has hit .273/.305/.356 (86 OPS+) over the last three years. I don't expect him to hit that well in 2014. If Hal Steinbrenner guaranteed him a second year in order to see him get his 3000th hit, that's not going to happen unless the Yankees play 240 games next year, or they sign him to a two-year extension. He has 2742 hits, 256 short of the mark.
The Yankees will pay Ichiro $6.5 million in 2014. I'd prefer that they pay him that money to stay home. He's been terrible at the plate three seasons in a row and has been below average in the field in two of them as well. They need to accept his 2014 salary for the sunk cost that it is and use the roster spot on someone who has some upside and can help them win a few games.
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