The most recent edition of the Yankee Magazine sold at the stadium features a picture of Ichiro Suzuki on its cover, with the headline, “Quiet Impact.” While the program is not always astutely accurate, in this instance, it makes a good point.
Suzuki has been subtly putting together a good season after a cold start, and has proven that the two-year contract the New York Yankees signed him to was not in vain.
In his last ten games, Ichiro is batting .355 with 11 hits, one of the few players who consistently hit through the losing skid of the last week. His start to June has been even better, going 4-for-12 in his four games thus far.
There are definitely areas that Suzuki could improve upon, given his strengths. His on-base is .299, and he only has ten walks and five stolen bases in seven attempts. These would be good numbers for an average player, but for Ichiro to be successful, he needs to get on base.
However, he has the least amount of strikeouts of any Yankee who has played at least 50 games so far this season with 22, and his 48 hits are the fourth-best on the team.
At 39-years-old, Ichiro is not expected to be the exceptional player that he once was, and his base and bat speed has diminished somewhat since his time in Japan and Seattle. But he is still a valuable asset in the outfield, and if he continues to hit through June the way he has been of late, his numbers will improve dramatically.
The combination of Suzuki and the speedy Brett Gardner, who is likewise having a good offensive season, give added speed on the bases and in the outfield, also adding a dimension of small ball through stolen bases and sacrifice bunts to what is sometimes seen as a power hitting-only team. If Ichiro can keep making an impact, quiet though it may be, the Yankees will benefit greatly.