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Ichiro a valuable utility outfielder

Veteran can still play the field, steal a base if needed
02/22/2014 10:48 AM ET
By Doug Williams

Background: Ichiro Suzuki is a Japanese, future Hall of Fame outfielder that has spent his entire MLB career with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. Ichiro has more than 4,000 career hits between Japan and Major League Baseball, is a 10-time All Star, 10-time Gold Glove Award winner and won an MVP Award in his rookie season, 2001.

2013 Season: Ichiro has slowed down a bit over the years, and his numbers have gone down as a result. He is still incredibly durable and played in 150 games for the Yankees in 2013, hitting .262, stealing 20 bases and playing all three outfield positions. Ichiro did fade as the season went on, however. He hit .283 in the first half and .228 in the second.

Greatest Strength: Ichiro has two great strengths that will make him a valuable part of the 2014 Yankees: his glove and his speed. He's a great fielder and can still cover significant ground despite the fact he's 40-years old. Ichiro can also steal a base if needed -- he's stolen 20 or more in every big league season.

Greatest Weakness: Ichiro's greatest weakness is simply the strength of the Yankees outfield. They already have Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano. As a result, Ichiro should not expect to be a regular in the starting lineup.

Prediction: Because of potential injuries, Ichiro will probably play more than he's expected to on paper. It won't be a big season in the offensive production department, however. Considering that he'll be used as a pinch runner, I could see Ichiro appearing in about 90 games and stealing 15-20 bases for the Yanks in 2014.

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