What statistics should we expect of him in the Bronx?
For those who haven't watched much West Coast baseball since the start of 2011, I regret to inform you that Suzuki is in decline. Over the past 16 months, his triple-slash line is an underwhelming .268/.302/.342, compared to .331/.376/.430 between 2001 and 2010.
His bat speed has slowed, which is particularly evident in his left/right splits.
Until this season, he was effective regardless of the opposing pitcher's handedness. However, he simply can't catch up to southpaws anymore (.236/.242/.267). Suzuki continues to make frequent contact with the platoon disadvantage, though extra-base hits are scarce.
The Yankees aren't acquiring a superstar, nor do they intend to use him as one.
His defensive skills, meanwhile, have not eroded as dramatically. Ichiro's elite throwing arm, agility and instincts will earn him consistent playing time in left field. As well, he could sporadically substitute in center and right to spell of Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher, respectively.
Ironically, his former franchise and new one clash at Safeco Field through Wednesday. The future Hall of Famer is batting eighth in his Yankees debut.
Jeff Fletcher of ESPNNewYork.com reports that Swisher (hip flexor) won't return until Friday. Suzuki will receive ample opportunities in the meantime.
Barring a stint on the disabled list, he'll be active for the final 67 Yankees games of the regular season. I foresee him starting 40-plus times and making about a dozen appearances as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement.
Hitting at the bottom of the order—which he hasn't done in a decade—will limit his plate appearances.
Moving from Seattle to the Big Apple should boost his offensive production, though not dramatically. Being a left-handed batter, I expect him to exploit Yankee Stadium's short porch on at least a couple occasions.
Of course, this transaction would not have been completed unless the Yankees trusted Ichiro's base-stealing ability. After all, GM Brian Cashman was driven to act upon learning of Brett Gardner's arthroscopic elbow surgery.
Suzuki has swiped 15 in 17 attempts so far this year. The coaching staff will encourage him to keep it up.
My predictions are as follows:
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