Maxwell > Jones > Wise > Ichiro

Ichiro has basically replaced Dewayne Wise on the Yankees’ roster. Wise had 63 plate appearances before he was DFA’d, just two more than Ichiro. Wise’s OPS was .778 compared to Ichiro’s .635. And Wise had more pop and was more of a deep threat AND he was a better outfielder at this stage in their relative careers. The difference is that the Yankees did not consider Dewayne Wise an every day player and certainly, playing Wise against lefties was not a good idea. But then again, neither is playing Ichiro against lefties.  There is this assumption that Ichiro Suzuki is a hitter feared by pitchers. That hardly seems true anymore. Wise was better than this current Ichiro.

And before Wise was another outfielder that got away. His name is Justin Maxwell who had a fantastic Spring Training for the Yankees. The guy just looked like a ballplayer. And though Spring Training means very little, Maxwell looked like the best player on the Yankees. But he was unproven in the big leagues. The Yankees had a tight 40-man roster and keeping Maxwell would have caused problems with that roster, so they simply cut him loose.

Maxwell has ended up in Houston and is one of the brighter stories for an Astros team that has had a dark cloud of a season. In 85 games with the Astros, covering 222 plate appearances, Maxwell has put up an .822 OPS and a 122 OPS+.  And his fielding is rated higher than Wise’s whose fielding was rated higher than Ichiro’s.

So what we have here is a progression from good to worse. Maxwell was a better player than Dewayne Wise who is a better player than Ichiro Suzuki. .822 is better than .778 which is better than .635 (.641 overall). Maxwell has been worth 1.7 rWAR this season compared to Wise’s 0.4 compared to Ichiro’s -0.4.

The one difference is that Wise and Ichiro bat left-handed. Maxwell was a right-handed batter. But how about considering who the Yankees kept as their right-handed hitting outfielder: Andruw Jones. Jones has a .780 OPS, a 104 OPS+, 0.6 rWAR and has saved two runs on defense (how?). Justin Maxwell beats every one of those scores in about forty more plate appearances. Plus, Maxwell was a more versatile outfielder that could play every position.

Perhaps it is unseemly to cry over spilled milk. Maxwell is gone for good. Wise is now gone for good. We are left with Ichiro and Jones. The progression of choices has seemingly gone down hill.  Perhaps Ichiro still has something to offer down the stretch run. But the early results when compared to his season in Seattle do not look promising. And Andruw Jones at this point seems like a lumbering wraith of his former self who runs into a fastball once in a while.  Is it wrong to wistfully look at Justin Maxwell from afar and wonder what could have been?


About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at since 2003.

11 thoughts on “Maxwell > Jones > Wise > Ichiro

  1. Only thing on Maxwell would be he strikes out too much. About once every three ABs. Kind of similar to Granderson if you think about it.

  2. Eh, Maxwell also had injury issues and a Jorge Vazquez-like K rate. I can't kill the Yanks for letting him go before they knew that they would lose Gardner for basically the whole season.

    I, of course, am one of the critics of Suzuki that you cited and I am not at all surprised that he has not had that much of an impact (well, he has the past two nights if you like really small samples). The Yankees got him for his name and because they believe in the magic pixie dust theory that well known veterans are always a better choice than lesser known (usually younger) guys irrespective of the fact that the big name guy is now barely a shell of the player he once was.

    That's why we see them still trotting out Freddie Garcia to throw 5 mediocre innings every 5th day while completely wasting David Phelps in the thankless long man role and now decrying that he's not "stretched out" enough to start. Well, he was – that's what he did when he went down to the minors – and now all of that is wasted.

    I have typically questioned the value of Chris Dickerson as a 30-something guy who was never able to stick at the MLB level. But now, frankly he might be a better choice than Suzuki who is nowhere near the fielder or hitter he once was despite most fans' delusions based on name recognition. Jones has at least provided some decent pop and is still a fair to competent OF. Suzuki seems more suited to being a late-innings defensive replacement, pinch-runner and part-time OF when the starters need rest. Those who don't agree are welcome to provide an explanation of how his particular brand of pixie dust outweighs his sub .300 OBP and wOBA and his 76 wRC+.

  3. I was surprised we let Maxwell go and in hindsight it was a mistake but we started the year with 3 healthy everyday starters in the outfield. Keeping Maxwell would have been a risky move, especially if it meant dropping a veteran player. It would have also reinforced the "playing for your job" approach to spring training that I don't think is helpful for our players.

  4. Everyone has been under-performing in those 15 games though. Hindsight is always 20/20. Wise was and is a straight platoon player and we got Ichiro to replace Gardner. This version of Ichiro is a poor mans version of Brett the Jet but, its still an upgrade over a platoon player, which we had too many of to begin with. I don't think you would be able to find anyone that would say they would rather have a 2012 Dewayne Wise over a 2012 Ichiro Suzuki, regardless of what the numbers say. WISE CAN'T HIT LEFTIES!

  5. Let's keep in mind that Houston is basically the bizarro Yankee stadium, with a short porch in left field. Maxwell hasnt hit that well against RHP (.278 OBP!) and away from Houston (.304 OBP). These two things add up to "4th OFer".

    He's not an everyday player for the Yankees. Might he have been a slightly better option than Andruw Jones? Maybe. But we are talking about the short half of a platoon. And jones was great last year for the Yankees, no?

    Maxwell was unfortunately out of options. Would liked to have stashed him in AAA. But arguing the Yankees should have handed him a roster spot and not signed jones during the offseason feels a bit too hind-sighty to me.

    Maxwell is playing for a garbage team with zero expectations in a great stadium for right handed batters. He maybe could have been a slight upgrade over Jones, but he's not all that young and he was out of options.

    It's just not that big a deal.

  6. One of the things that makes a great manager great is an ability to see real player value and not to be frightened to bet the house on an unproven rookie. this was one of Billy Martin's greatest strengths, he would not hesitate to start a double A player over a proven vet if he believed in the player. This has not been the Yankee way since the Joe Torre era. Reliance on older, broken down player's who have the phantom value of experience has been the Yankee way since Buck Showalter left the premises. It's timid and short sighted, but if you have the payroll leway you can get away with it.

    • Thsi is true. I would argue that the Yankees even lucked into guys like Jeter, Cano, and Mariano. If Tony Fernandez was healthy he would've been starting SS in 1996 (despite revisionist history that has Torre immediately realizing Jeter's ability). Cano was put at 3B in the minors because he was being shopped, and was called up only because godawful Tony Womack was playing godawful. Mariano's coming out was in the 1995 playoffs (Showalter)..and wasn't really used in important situations in 1996 until Jeff Nelson's season turned sour.

  7. It's not this hindsight is 20/20 crap , I posted about accountablilty early this year when this Montero Trade happened and I also posted about keeping maxwell over the aging players and was mocked and laughed at because i'm not an english major. Shame , shame on your houses ! If the yankees didn't have unlimited money to fix cashmans blunders we would all be watching the New York Astros play…