Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro Suzuki
45-Year-Old OutfielderOF
Seattle Mariners
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Suzuki reunited with the Mariners prior to the 2018 season, though he spent just one month on the team's active roster before transitioning to a front-office role for the remainder of the year. When active, the 45-year-old struggled in limited opportunities, hitting .205/.255/.205 in 15 games. While Suzuki was unable to play in his advisory role, he continued to take batting practice and work out with the team with the intention of returning as a player in 2019. With the Mariners kicking off their 2019 campaign with a two-game series against the A's in Japan -- during which both teams are allowed to carry 28 players -- Suzuki is expected to break camp with Seattle. He will almost certainly hang up his cleats when the team returns stateside and shifts back to a tradition 25-man roster, as it doesn't make any sense for the rebuilding Mariners to give him consistent playing time. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, minor-league contract with the Mariners in January of 2019.
Will get Opening Day start
OFSeattle Mariners  NRI
March 18, 2019
Mariners manager Scott Servais said that Suzuki will be included in the starting lineup for the club's regular-season opener March 20 against the Athletics in Tokyo, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports.
From the moment Suzuki re-signed with the Mariners in January on a minor-league deal, it was always likely that he would join the big club for its two-game trip to his native Japan. There's a decent possibility that Suzuki starts both Wednesday and Thursday in his home country, but his future with the Mariners beyond this week is more questionable. General manager Jerry DiPoto has previously stated that Suzuki will be given a fair chance to compete for his place on the roster once the club returns to North America, but there might not be much incentive for a rebuilding organization to keep a spot open for a 45-year-old outfielder.
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Batting Stats
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2016
Since 2016vs Left .856 132 17 0 10 2 .351 .435 .421
Since 2016vs Right .636 495 55 4 32 9 .252 .307 .329
2018vs Left 1.136 11 2 0 0 0 .500 .636 .500
2018vs Right .278 36 3 0 0 0 .139 .139 .139
2017vs Left .796 51 7 0 5 0 .340 .392 .404
2017vs Right .603 164 12 3 15 1 .228 .294 .309
2016vs Left .859 70 8 0 5 2 .339 .435 .424
2016vs Right .700 295 40 1 17 8 .280 .334 .366
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2016
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
Since 2016Home .608 282 27 1 16 7 .252 .313 .295
Since 2016Away .742 345 45 3 26 4 .288 .351 .392
2018Home .382 24 3 0 0 0 .174 .208 .174
2018Away .542 23 2 0 0 0 .238 .304 .238
2017Home .518 95 6 0 6 1 .233 .274 .244
2017Away .759 120 13 3 14 0 .274 .353 .406
2016Home .697 163 18 1 10 6 .276 .352 .345
2016Away .756 202 30 0 12 4 .302 .355 .401
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Stat Review
How does Ichiro Suzuki compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Ichiro Suzuki
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Dave Regan checks in for the final time this season, using his rumblings to hand out some hardware to the majors' top players.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
For the second year in a row, Ichiro's playing time volume took a big hit, as he appeared in 136 games, but logged a career-low 215 plate appearances. When it was all said and done, 2017 marked the second time in three years that he graded out as a below replacement-level player. A complete roster tear-down was underway at press time, with Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna traded out of Miami, but it doesn't make much sense for the rebuilding club to give a 44-year-old playing time in any capacity, unless they feel his value in the clubhouse and as a model of work ethic would benefit their younger players. The Marlins declined a $2 million option for 2018, so it appears as though Ichiro is nearing the end of a Hall of Fame worthy career, even though he's expressed a desire to continue playing. Even if another club is willing to bring him in as a bench player, he seems unlikely to pick up more than 200 plate appearances this season.
Suzuki collected his 3,000th major league hit as a member of the Marlins in 2016, his age-42 season. While he looked like he might have been finished after hitting just .229 in an injury-ridden 2015, Suzuki rebounded to hit .291 in 327 at-bats in 2016 while filling in for an injured Giancarlo Stanton. Suzuki hit just one home run for the third consecutive season, but he quietly recorded 10 steals, making it 16 straight MLB seasons with double-digit steals. The Marlins picked up Suzuki's option for 2017, and at age 43 he will be the oldest position player in the league by a wide margin. Although Suzuki will likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer someday, he isn't likely to see much playing time in 2017 unless one of the Marlins' starting outfielders goes down with an injury. Even if that path to playing time develops, a reprisal of his surprisingly decent 2016 numbers is the best fantasy owners can realistically hope for from a player his age.
Injuries forced Ichiro into the lineup far more often than Miami would have liked in 2015. While he turned in the second-best contact and walk rates of his career, it was his worst season by any truly meaningful measure. Ichiro hit at a measly .229 clip, 33 points lower than his previous career low from 2013, and what little pop he had left in his bat seemingly evaporated. Further, while he moves well for 42 years old, Ichiro has not been able to get on base enough in recent seasons to make much of an impact on the basepaths. The Marlins signed Ichiro for another year, but 400-plus plate appearances seems unlikely with even a shred of better injury luck. That's not to say Ichiro can't still get the 65 more hits he needs to reach 3,000 for his career.
Prior to 2014, Ichiro's decline was a very gradual process, but his age-40 season brought the lowest ISO of his career (.056), a significant spike in his strikeout rate (17.7% – his previous career-high was 11.7%), and a diminished ability to make contact on pitches outside of the strike zone. If this was the swan song, it took place in relative obscurity while most of the attention around the 2014 version of the Yankees focused on Derek Jeter's farewell tour. Since his arrival in North America 2001, Ichiro is second only to Juan Pierre in stolen bases (487). After signing with the Marlins, Suzuki will likely serve as a fourth outfielder.
The end seems near for the great Ichiro, whose batting average dwindled to .262 in 2013 and contributed to him coming off the bench quite a bit as the season wound down. The decline is backed up by his component numbers; his speed and hitting style have traditionally led to a BABIP in the .330s or higher, but that mark fell to just .285 last season, and if he can't leg out infield hits anymore, he is not going to have much value. He did swipe 20 bags last year, and his baserunning instincts are as good as ever, but Ichiro is best suited for a part-time role at this point in his career.
After a mediocre start to the year, Suzuki seemed to get a second wind upon moving to the Yankees in August, putting up a .322 average with the team, and even showing a little pop with five homers in 227 at-bats. Even at age 38, Suzuki is still dangerous on the basepaths, putting up 29 steals in 36 attempts. The years of hitting .350 are likely well behind him, but Suzuki can still provide a helpful batting average and a good amount of steals, making him a significant asset to any fantasy team.
For the first time in his 11-year career, Suzuki finally looked human. He failed to collect his signature 200 hits and bat higher than .300 for the first time stateside. The conventional wisdom is at age 37, Ichiro lost a step. He didn't seem slower on the basepaths, though, where he stole 40 bags, the fifth highest total of his career, on an 85.1-percent success rate, his third highest mark. And though Ichiro's 36 infield hits were off his 2010 pace, they were still more than he legged out in 2003 and 2005 and nearly the same as he had in three other years. It would only be natural if he lost some speed, but he was also very unlucky last season. His BABIP checked in at a career-low .295, far off his career pace. Ichiro is 38 this year, but it wouldn't be shocking if, with a little more luck, he rebounded from last year's disappointing season to return to being a .300+ hitter.
Suzuki produced routine Ichiro numbers last season, reaching 200 hits for an MLB-record 10th consecutive season and finishing fifth in the AL in stolen bases. The latter feat was especially heartening after he posted a career-low 26 stolen bases in 2009. Ichiro endured a 30-game summer slump (.236/.276/.268) but rebounded to hit .329/.361/.412 from Aug. 3 on. The slump depressed his final batting average, which probably depressed his owners who gauged his fantasy value with a high average in mind after he hit .352 in 2009. Ichiro is 37 this season but shows no signs of slowing - he led baseball in infield hits last season with 59, 20 more than the next closest player.
Suzuki missed as many games last season, 16, as he had in his previous eight years combined. He still finished with 225 hits, the fourth most of his career, and his 31 doubles were his most since his rookie season. He also reached double digits in homers for the third time in his career with 11, all the while batting .352, second only to batting champ Joe Mauer. Makes you wonder what he could have done with a full 162-game slate. The only downside to his season was his drop in stolen bases. He swiped a career-low 26 bags, attempting only three in his final 35 games. Perhaps he was saving his legs, or maybe it was merely an aberration. Whatever the case, it's something to consider before selecting him on draft day.
Suzuki tied Wee Willie Keeler's record of eight consecutive seasons with 200 hits last year, but 2008 wasn't vintage Ichiro. He posted a career-low .747 OPS, and his .311 batting average was the second lowest of his career. Extra running might have had something to do with it. After nearly three months of going wild on the basepaths (35 attempts in 76 games) and covering extra ground in center field because of incompetent corner outfielders, Ichiro stopped stealing (12 attempts in his last 86 games) and moved to right field in late June. He proceeded to hit .333 the rest of the way, raising his average from a late-June mark of .285. His legs were never 100 percent healthy, as he battled hamstring issues and leg pain late in the season, but playing right field from the start this year should save on the wear and tear. A better lineup around him will help, too. Seattle's No. 9 hitters grounded into an MLB-high 19 double plays last season.
Another typical year for Suzuki: he had 238 hits, the third most of his career; hit .351, the second-highest mark in the majors; stole 37 bases, the third most of his career; and won his seventh consecutive Gold Glove. Along the way, he was named All-Star Game MVP, and he inked a five-year contract that likely means he'll finish his career as a Mariner. Manager John McLaren, though, apparently thinks Ichiro's usual feast has become too pedestrian. He challenged Ichiro to hit .400 this year and steal 80 bases. The latter is likely impossible for runner as cautious as Ichiro on the basepaths. As for the former, well, if anyone can do it, it's Ichiro. And even though Ichiro doesn't have much power (though he still had more XBH than Mariners DH Jose Vidro), he totaled the fifth-most runs created (119.8) among outfielders last season.
The big news in 2006 for Suzuki was that he finally agreed to move to center field. He started 38 games in center toward season's end and is slated to start there this season. More fantasy relevant, Ichiro rebounded from a disappointing (for him) 2005 by hitting .322, the third-highest average of his career, and stealing 45 bases, the most since his rookie year 56. An August slump (.233, two SB) depressed his numbers, but fantasy owners shouldn't grumble too loudly. He posted the second-highest batting average among major league outfielders and his 116 runs created were third-most among American League outfielders. Expect Ichiro to run as much as he did last season, which will help justify a high draft selection, especially if his average dips.
Ichiro hit .303 last season and became the sixth player in major league history to collect 200 or more hits in five consecutive years, but his 2005 was still considered a disappointment coming on the heels of his record-setting 262 hits the previous year. The drop in hits is partly explained by the Mariners' encouragement for him to take more pitches. In 2004, Ichiro had 52 first-pitch hits. Last season, he had 13. Still, Ichiro's 2005 wasn't that out of whack for his career. Two of his five years (2001, 2005) were statospheric, while the remaining three years he's averaged .312 with 208 hits. To justify an early round selection, though, Ichiro needs to hit for a high average because other than steals (33.4 the last four years after 56 in 2001), he only offers runs, which are team dependent.
Ichiro had an amazing 2004 even by his standards. Not only did he break the all-time record for hits in a season with 262, he finished fourth in OPS (.869) among AL right fielders with at least 400 AB, had the highest OBP (.418) among all leadoff hitters in the majors, and led the AL with 19 intentional walks, the first leadoff hitter to lead the league since Wade Boggs in 1991. He also stole 36 bases, the second-most in his career and third in the AL, and was successful on 76.5 percent of his attempts. Importantly, he didn't fade down the stretch as he had done in previous years, though he still had a slow April (.255). Expecting a repeat of 2004 is a little much, but Ichiro will still be a great fantasy play.
Suzuki has posted three consecutive 200-plus hit seasons, only the third major leaguer to reach 200 hits in his first three years. His 662 hits in that span are second only to Lloyd Waner's 678 in 1927-29. Ichiro stumbled out of the gate last season and faded down the stretch, dropping his average to .312. The Mariners' anemic lineup had something to do with that and Ichiro said the pressure of expectations got to him, too. Still, a .312 average, 111 runs and 36 stolen bases are solid fantasy numbers. Expect another Ichiro-esque year.
Ichiro-mania hits year number three, but his sophomore season saw his average, runs batted in and steals go down. New manager Bob Melvin said he has no intention of removing Ichiro from the leadoff spot. The key though is to see if Melvin will run Ichiro a bit more - he went from 56 to 30 stolen bases last season. He's also in a contract season.
More Fantasy News
Starting in left field
OFSeattle Mariners  NRI
February 22, 2019
Suzuki (foot) is batting seventh and starting in left field for Friday's spring training game against the Athletics, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports.
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Fine after getting plunked
OFSeattle Mariners  NRI
February 21, 2019
An X-ray on Suzuki's left foot revealed no structural damage, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports.
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Officially re-signs with Seattle
OFSeattle Mariners  NRI
January 23, 2019
Suzuki agreed Wednesday with the Mariners on a minor-league contract, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The deal is worth $750,000 at the major-league level.
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Will take part in Tokyo series
OFSeattle Mariners  NRI
January 5, 2019
General manager Jerry DiPoto confirmed that Suzuki would be a member of the Mariners' 28-man roster for its two-game, season-opening series with the Astros on March 20 and 21, Emily Caron of Sports Illustrated reports.
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Expected to break camp with Mariners
OFSeattle Mariners  NRI
October 2, 2018
General manager Jerry Dipoto said Suzuki will be on Seattle's Opening Day roster when the team kicks off its season against the A's in Tokyo, assuming he's healthy, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. "I would stop short of guaranteeing it, because we have to make sure he's healthy. But he'll be on our roster," Dipoto said. "We feel strongly that it's the right thing to do for our franchise and the right thing to do for the NPB and believe it's the right thing to do for Ichiro. What happens thereafter remains to be seen."
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