It’s time to play my favorite baseball guessing game: Name that player! The rules are simple. I’ll put up two sets of statistics describing two different players. Once I’ve broken down these players entirely by the numbers, I’ll reveal who each player is at the end of the post. This is always fun for me; hopefully it’ll be fun for the TYA readership as well.
Player A is not an everyday player, but has done well in 63 plate appearances this year. He’s batting .262/.286/.492, which shows terrible on-base skills but solid power. That’s a trade off I’ll take from a bench player every time. As a result of the pop in his bat, Player A has a wOBA of .357 and a wRC+ of 122. He’s generally regarded as a good outfielder, and makes around the league minimum.
Player B is an everyday player. He’s just not a very good one. In 443 plate appearances this season he’s hitting a meek .261/.289/.352. That’s a .280 wOBA or a 76 wRC+. The poor offensive output makes Player B one of the worst hitting outfielders in all of baseball. While he is known to be excellent defensively, with a cannon throwing arm, the defensive production isn’t enough to balance out the poor hitting. Making matters worse, because Player B has been an everyday player for many seasons he’s more expensive than Player A, costing millions a year as opposed to hundreds of thousands.
It shouldn’t take much by now to figure out that Player B is recent Yankee acquisition Ichiro Suzuki. A lot of hype has followed Suzuki from the Mariner’s to the Yankees, but this season that hype is unjustified. This isn’t the Ichiro of old who managed to accumulate a 114 career wRC+. This is a player who is barely in the major leagues, one who is putting up below average offensive numbers in every statistical category.
What is less obvious is that Player A is Dewayne Wise. Wise didn’t get much playing time with the Yankees this season, but he performed well when he was given his chances. In fact, as the numbers show, when he was given those chances he was a better hitter than Ichiro.
The Yankees designated Wise for assignment after they acquired Suzuki. In effect, he was thrown into the trade that brought Ichiro to the Yankees. Judging by the numbers, that may not have been the smart move. Ichiro is a household name, but he built up that name recognition in the past. Ichiro hasn’t been a productive big league hitter since 2010. His wRC+ was 82 last year. This year its 76. While it is possible that a change of scenery will light a fire under Suzuki to improve his performance, his numbers suggest that he’s in decline. Given that he costs more than Wise to produce less, one has to wonder why the Yankees made this move.