Veteran “Sleeper”: Can Ichiro Suzuki Return To Fantasy Dominance?

We all know that Ichiro Suzuki is not the same player that he once was, but that also doesn’t mean that he is a player that should simply be cast aside and forgotten about. While he was a shell of his former self while banished to Safeco Field, he seemed rejuvenated upon arriving in New York.

In 67 games after the trade Suzuki hit .322 with 5 HR and 14 SB. Having resigned in New York, should we expect similar production in 2013?

His average came courtesy of a .337 BABIP. Considering his career mark is .347, it really isn’t a number that is hard to believe. That said, while he always does seem to make contact (8.8% strikeout rate post trade, 9.3% for his career), it is the line drive rate that we need to question.

Overall last season he posted a 24.7% rate, with it actually being higher as a member of the Mariners (25.6%) than as a Yankee (23.3%). He hadn’t been over 20% since 2007 and had never been this high since 2002, so there is every reason to believe that he is going to regress.

So, maybe he’s not still a .320 hitter, but he also isn’t the guy who was hitting .260 in Seattle. It is safe to assume that he should hit right around .300, most likely above it, and that alone is going to give him value.

The stolen bases also are there, despite being 39-years old. Is he going to steal 40+ bases? It isn’t impossible, given te expected improved average and the fact that he reached the mark in 2010 and 2011. Plus, the Yankees are not the same offense they once were, meaning they could rely on the speed of Suzuki and Brett Gardner to make things happen.

Suddenly things are really working in Suzuki’s advantage…

Then we get to the power department, something that was never his strong suit nor will it ever be. However, he hit 5 HR in 130 AB at Yankee Stadium last season. It’s not a pace that we should expect to continue, but we have also seen guys benefit from Yankee Stadium in the past.

Suddenly, instead of a good average, SB and 5 or 6 HR, we still can expect the first two but now with 10+ HR!?!?! In other words, the value could be enormous.

Throw in a better lineup for scoring runs (not that he is going to return to the days of 120+), and in redraft formats Suzuki is looking like a great value selection.

What are your thoughts of Suzuki?  Is he a player you think is worth targeting?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out all of our Veteran “Sleeper” Articles”:

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