It’s been a little over a month since he Yankees acquired Ichiro from the Mariners fringy pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. Although sample size caveats will obviously apply, it’s worth a look to see how the trade has panned out for the Yanks thus far. We’ll start by looking back at what we said when the trade happened. Derek liked the move citing Ichiro’s low BABIP in Seattle prior to the trade and his defensive prowess. I was slightly less optimistic arguing his ZiPS projection (.304 wOBA) presented a minimal upgrade over DFA’d DeWayne Wise.
In 118 PA’s with the Yankees, Ichiro has slightly outhit ZiPS’s projection by posting a .315 wOBA. Due to sample size concerns, his defensive metrics as a Yankee are virtually meaningless. However, he passes the eye test according to Tom Tango’s fans scouting report. Although only 8 fans have voted so far, he grades out as a 72/100. Based on the assumptions that 20 is one standard deviation, he’s still an elite defender (better than roughly 86% of RF) by the eye test. Ichiro has pretty much been what we thought he would be: A below average hitter who can still get it done in the field. Meanwhile, Wise has continued hot hitting (.356 wOBA) after catching on with the White Sox. While we’re dealing with a miniscule sample size, it’s worth noting that he has actually credited Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long for his successes.
But, will Ichiro be able to keep it up? Fangraphs noted an increase in selectivity at the plate since coming to New York. However, it’s very unclear how much of this is real and how much is the result of random variation. His outside-swing percentage has already climbed from 24.9% to 27% in the week since that article was written. Ichiro’s newfound power (.143 ISO) is likely not going to continue; but, its not unreasonable to expect an uptick from his power numbers in Seattle. ZiPS’s projection hasn’t changed much since the time of the trade as it pegs Ichiro for a .306 wOBA going forward. As referenced previously, the Yankees believe in acquiring fallen superstars in hopes that they can recapture some of their previous greatness. Ichiro’s certainly not a guy who hits .350 anymore, but he’s certainly still worthy of a spot on a MLB roster.