On Monday evening, news broke that Ichiro Suzuki had been traded to the New York Yankees for two minor league pitching prospects, therefore closing the chapter on his career as a Seattle Mariner. Although the 38-year-old outfielder will help solidify an ailing Yankees’ outfield, he’s a shell of the player that he once was.
After 10 consecutive seasons in which he batted at least .303/.350/.386 with 26 stolen bases, Ichiro had the worst season of his storied career in 2011 when he batted .272/.310/.335 and failed to make the American League All-Star team for the first time since entering the league in 2001—the year he won both the Rookie of the Year and MVP award in the American League.
His best season came in 2004 when he led the league with a .372 batting average and 262 hits, breaking George Sissler’s longstanding, single-season hits record. According to BaseballReference.com, Ichiro posted a 9.0 WAR—boosted by a 2.4 dWAR for his exceptional play in right field—highlighted by a .869 OPS, 37 extra-base hits and 36 stolen bases.
Since 2001, the left-handed hitter has led the league in hits six different times, averaging 222 in a typical 162-game season, and won two American League batting titles (2001, 2004).
Overall, Ichiro has amassed 2,534 hits, 473 extra-base hits, 1,176 runs scored, 439 stolen bases and 792 K/513 BB in 1,845 career games.
But as we look to the minor leagues, it’s always fun to speculate if there's the next Ichiro Suzuki waiting to break through. Given his insane hit tool—one of the best in baseball history—on-base skills and speed, the answer is simple: no. I feel confident saying that there will never be another hitter like Ichiro.
However, if we lower the threshold and look at those who possesses an above-average to plus hit tool, advanced on-base skills and plus speed, there are numerous prospects who come to mind.