The surprising acquisition by the New York Yankees of Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki gives the club a player comparable to injured Brett Gardner. At this stage of his career, Ichiro, a lifetime .322 batter in the major leagues since his rookie campaign of 2001, reminds me of Gardner, with speed, occasional power and excellent defense.
Ichiro Suzuki has a solid chance to become a Hall of Fame player if he continues his march toward 3,000 base hits; currently, he has 2,534. Since he has played on the West Coast his entire time in the big leagues in America, there may be some facets of his career you might not be familiar with.
1. Run, Don't Walk
Do not hold your breath waiting for Suzuki to coax a bases on balls. He does not walk much, with just 17 in 2012 and a meager 513 over his 11-plus seasons. The most times Ichiro walked as a Mariner is the 68 he managed in 2002. He has walked as few as 30 times in a season and his bases on balls total has been in the 30s on four occasions. But he is a run scorer, with at least 101 runs scored in a full season eight times.
2. He Goes to Bat For You
The dearth of walks and his spot at the top of the lineup translated into Ichiro leading the American League in at-bats eight times. Even now, he is leading the circuit in at-bats with 406, counting the four he collected in his New York Yankee debut on Monday evening, July 23. Ichiro also has been a leader multiple times in plate appearances; four times he has led the AL in this statistic.
3. Low On-Base Percentage
If you are wondering if Ichiro gets on base more than current leadoff batter Derek jeter, the numbers are not close this season. Jeter has an on-base percentage of .355 in 2012, well below his career number of .382. But Ichiro, having the worst season of his tenure in the league, is at just .288. Lifetime, he reaches base at a .366 clip.
4. An Even 100
Chances are that Ichiro is going to launch a home run over the short right field wall in Yankee Stadium before the year is out. If he does, it will give him exactly 100 for his career. Power is not Ichiro's forte, with just 279 of his lifetime base hits being doubles. But he does have 79 triples, which ranks him sixth among active players.
I have been a fan of the New York Yankees since the middle of the 1960s.
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