Is Ichiro Suzuki A Potential 2010 Bust?

Once one of the more feared hitters in the game, Ichiro Suzuki is not the same player that he once was.  He once brought three things to the table, three things that you could count on him providing year in and year out: average, runs and stolen bases.  Knocking that down to one major guarantee certainly throws a wrench in his value.

Just look at his production from 2009:

639 At Bats
.352 Batting Average (225 Hits)
11 Home Runs
46 RBI
88 Runs
26 Stolen Bases
.386 On Base Percentage
.465 Slugging Percentage
.384 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The average is clearly elite and while it’s unlikely that he matches that type of BABIP, with his speed it is not completely out of the question.  He has a career BABIP of .359 and has only hit below .310 once.  He’s only been below .320 three times in nine seasons.  The average is a given, the one thing that you can count on when adding Suzuki to your roster.

The other two important parts of his value, runs and stolen bases, are no longer so elite.  He has failed to score more than 103 runs in each of the past two seasons, failing to score 100 last season for the first time in his career.  While he did miss games due to injury, it’s hard to imagine he would have gotten there considering he was out just 16 games.

Even if he were to return to the 100 run plateau, it isn’t something that alone will vault him back into a top round option.  There were 22 players in 2009 who scored at least 100 runs There were an additional 24 players who scored 90 or more.  In 2008 there were 28 players who scored at least 100 runs with an additional 24 with at least 90.

Just consider that the big bats that will be hitting behind him are Jose Lopez and Milton Bradley, and the chances of him becoming an elite contributor in the category are slim.  The Mariners are just not going to be a high scoring offensive team, looking to win games with pitching and defense like they did in 2009.  While he’s going to score, you can’t look at him as a certain elite contributor here.

The speed is not quite what it once was either.  Again, injuries limited his playing time, but it was the first time that he failed to reach 30 stolen bases in a season.  While he’s still going to be helpful in the category, it’s impossible for me to see him reaching an elite level.

Only three times in his career has he reached the 40 stolen base plateau, generally sitting from 31-37.  He’s certainly going to help, but he’s not a player with the potential to carry you in the category, like Jacoby Ellsbury or potentially Jose Reyes could do.

Let’s take a look at where I have him projected for 2010:

.324 (220-680), 8 HR, 40 RBI, 95 R, 32 SB, .351 BABIP, .371 OBP, .406 SLG

Ichiro Suzuki is a very good player, there is no doubt about that, but he just doesn’t seem to bring enough to the table to justify spending a late third round or early fourth round pick on.  He brings a potentially elite average, as well as a good stolen base total and he clearly is useful in runs scored.  That’s just not enough, however.

His current ADP has him going before Justin Morneau, Ryan Zimmerman and others.  These are all players that I would select over Ichiro.  He just doesn’t bring enough.  With that said, it is highly unlikely I have him on any team in 2010, barring him falling a few rounds.

What about you?  Is Ichiro Suzuki a player you would select in the third round?  If not, when would you target him?

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Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

3 comments

  1. Chuck says:

    I’ve never been a fan of Ichiro as a top 35 pick, if he was in a loaded lineup and scored 120 runs a year it would be a different story.

  2. Aaron says:

    With the depth at OF I usually don’t end up with Suzuki in my lineup, and as he gets older I am feeling more and more that way.
    Even if he slips to the 3rd / 4th round, I would rather pick up a guy with more rbi. If I am going to draft someone to keep my average up, I might look at some lower round options that have high upside.

  3. Kyle says:

    I suppose that I’m a little late in the game here seeing as I have just found this website looking for news on Ichiro. It seems the focus of his flaws are the stolen bases and runs. Well, he IS getting older but every year he does, he continues to astonish the realists and feed the dream of the pessimists. Take 2002 for instance, where Ichiro fell into your “30” SB category, but at the same time, was CS 15 times. I wonder if someone wrote of Ichiro late in ’02 and said “Where has the Ichiro we knew from 2001 gone?” Probably not, but he did have 111 runs. Should we thank Ichiro for that, or the line up, or, both, possibly? Yes, both, the whole two to tango effect. 2005 was definitely his worst year, if you could even call it a bad year. But somehow he managed 111 runs and 68 RBI’s. 2009 was actually a great year, he had 31 doubles, (his highest since 2001, you know, when he was “younger) 225 hits and a .352 BA. So, Ichiro isn’t a bust for 2010, and has not slowed down. Slowing down would have to be much more drastic than what his numbers represent. So, to conclude, yes, I would pick Ichiro very early on.

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