Name that player!

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.

4 thoughts on “Name that player!

  1. Is this a joke? No…one does not have to wonder for even a millsecond why the Yanks made this move. It was one of the biggest no brainers of all time. Your talking about Wise’s 60 at bats like it’s an established level of play for him. It isn’t. We know the kind of hitter Wise is. He’s awful, it’s been established over the past 5 years. Dewayne Wise did a fantastic job with the Yanks this year, but it was a very small sample size and his numbers were obviously unsustainable. look at his offensive numbers over the past few seasons. .534 OPS in 2011, .675 in 2010 .628 in 2009, he wasn’t going to continue to produce at that level, the guy is beyond worthless with the bat.
    Ichiro certainly isn’t anything special with the bat, I wouldn’t argue with anyone who wanted to say he was awful as well, but he’s no doubt less awful. he’s consistent. He’s a better fielder, baserunner and hitter than wise. He’s better at pretty much every facet on the game and considering we gave up a poo poo platter to get him I consider it a no doubt upgrade. Take a look at Ichiro’s road numbers away from Safeco which is a run suppressing environment, take a look at his numbers against righties. The move has been widely lauded as a slam dunk move by GMs, Execs, Scouts, Analysts, Players, Fans, everyone in existence not because Ichiro is a great player, not because anyone thinks he’ll bounce back to the ichiro of old but because the current iteration of ichiro is still an upgrade and they were able to upgrade and not give up anything significant to do so.

    • You’re projecting Suzuki’s past onto his present as are all of those talking heads who are treating this deal as if it were a “slam dunk”. If not for his past and his name and all of the hype associated with it a player with Suzuki’s present level of production would be DFAd, especially considering his salary level. I don’t think Suzuki’s defense is what it used to be – the Mariner’s – the team that knows him best ran on him with impunity and succeeded. His speed on the bases, at least that which remains, will not be very useful if he he maintains that sub-.300 OB. And the Yankees held him at third last night rather than let him try to score from second on a single. It might have been a misjudgement by the coach but if Suzuki’s speed is his strength then why is it even a question whether to send him or not?

      I don’t agree that Suzuki is that much of an upgrade on Wise. Neither one is very good but one is famous and will sell more tickets so he gets the job. That was the point of the original post and I completely agree with it.

  2. Trading for Ichiro is not at all a no-brainer. His production is well below average. I agree that Wise’s 60 PA did not establish a reliable trend line, but his career average numbers are pretty much what Ichiro has done this year. As a result the Yankees are paying more for at best the same production. Why spend the money? I’d love for Ichiro to prove me wrong, but if you take the name off his production you have a player no one wants.