Ichiro Suzuki has been tearing it up over the last 10 games for the New York Yankees. The ‘freshly’ named AL ‘Player of the Week’ is hitting .432 with 19 hits in that time-including a 14-20 stretch and 6 Multi-hit games.
So does his renaissance remind of you anyone? Ah, yeah…the 2001-2009 version of the Japanese superstar. The Yankees were smart enough to think that Ichiro still had some good baseball in him.
For the last 250 games as a member of the Seattle Mariners, Suzuki was struggling just to hit .260. A career lifetime hitter at Safeco Field of .325, was only hitting .214 there this year. The Yankees brass must have been banking on his road average of .294 for this year to see what kind of player addition he would make in their lineup.
Suzuki has been hitting out of the one or two slot for the majority of this run, a move I said to do as soon as the Yankees picked the guy up. Between he and Derek Jeter, you have two professional hitters who have a combined 7236 professional hits when you add Jeter’s 3296 hits, plus Ichiro’s 2567 hits in the MLB and his 1273 hits with the NPBL.
Folks, Ichiro has 3940 hits in his professional career. It is my opinion they should not mess with this lineup for the rest of the year. Jeter is challenging for a batting crown, so he may be a little better out of the #1 slot as he sees a lot more pitches–and tends to walk more.
Plus as a left-handed batter hitting second, with pinpoint bat control, Ichiro is better to hit the ball to advance Jeter into scoring position or beat out infield hits with a hole open on the right side of the base when Jeter is at 1st.
Suzuki is also an excellent bunter and his speed is still way above average. While I don’t think Jeter will ever pass Pete Rose‘s 4256 MLB hits, I believe that if Ichiro plays the rest of this season, plus another 2 seasons, he may have a chance to club another 317 hits to pass Rose on the ALL-Time professional hits list.
Ichiro is hitting .328 with the Yankees (64-195), with 5 HRs and 23 RBI in only 59 games. He has also clubbed 11 doubles and stolen 12 bases in 16 attempts. The man loves the confines of Yankee Stadium, where he is hitting .353 with an OPS of .941 and 13 XBH in just 125 AB.
The hometown fans are really starting to embrace the soon to be 39-year-old (Oct.22). Suzuki also has a lifetime average of .361 at the Stadium on River Ave. As a fan of Suzuki (as my favorite player on my favorite team), I was hoping that he would be able to play some great ball in the big city and he hasn’t disappointed! So it also has me thinking to this year playoffs and even the next few years.
I think that Suzuki has been rejuvenated in New York and I wouldn’t mind seeing the club signing him to a 1-2 year deal provided he isn’t looking for staggering money. Suzuki is still an above average outfielder as well, so he does not hurt you on the defensive side of the ball.
As a person who also loves Nick Swisher, I think the franchise is going to have a tough time signing the popular switch-hitting veteran. Swisher is one of the better free agents on the market and will probably land a 4 or 5 year contract in the $15 million per year range.
So how do you replace him? You don’t. You sign Ichiro, and have him patrol RF so you could use Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner to round out a speedy outfield.
With Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera coming back at over 40 years old each, what is another aging superstar to the lineup? Suzuki is still an above average outfielder as well. But before that is unfinished business in the 2012 playoffs.
Suzuki could really cement his legend by helping the Yankees to another Fall Classic and winning it while providing a key role. Remember that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere!
Photo Credit: Facebook.com/Yankees
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