Is Ichiro Suzuki Ownable?

I’m a Cubs fan who has transplanted myself in the Pacific Northwest. I relocated in 2006 so I was here to watch him lead MLB in hits five consecutive seasons (2006-2010), but I missed his MVP/Rookie of Year season in 2001, and I still believe he could hit 30 home runs, if he wanted to. But as I sit here and reminisce about one of the most complete players I’ve ever had the chance to see play on a regular basis, I wonder:

Is Ichiro ownable in my 10 team mixed league?

My first inclination is to say “No”. He’s past his prime, he doesn’t play enough, his legs are getting old, he doesn’t have any power. But then, I have to wake myself from my bad dream and stare reality right in the face. Ichiro still can be a productive fantasy player. He is definitely just a shadow of his former self, but maintaining Hall of Fame numbers at age 39 is something only a few very special players can claim (I’m looking at you Rickey Henderson).

In the month of June, Ichiro is slashing .292/.338/.347 with 7 runs, 1 HR, 6 RBI and 6 steals. Of the Yankees 75 games this season, Ichiro has appeared in 69 of them. In all but 6 of those games, he’s recorded more than 1 plate appearance. So he’s getting the playing time needed to be a fantasy asset. When we look at his ownership on popular fantasy sites, we see that he’s owned in 34.1% of ESPN leagues and 42% of Yahoo leagues. For comparison, Juan Pierre is owned in 37.4% of ESPN leagues and in the month of June he’s slashing .297/.325/.378 with 12 runs, zero home runs, 2 RBI and 5 steals. At this point, they’re pretty comparable players.

(pause to lament the fact that Ichiro has been reduced to a Juan Pierre comp)

And we’re back. Juan Pierre is definitely ownable in a 10 team mixed league. I wouldn’t depend on him for more than 15 or so steals for the rest of the season, but that has some value. What about Ichiro, what can we expect from him the rest of the season? Well it looks like he’ll continue to get enough playing time. Brett Gardner is entrenched and healthy in centerfield and Vernon Wells has fall off so rapidly that, until Curtis Granderson comes back from injury, Zoilo Almonte has the gig in left field. So with regular playing time, I expect him to hit around .280 and swipe another 15 bases. Similar to Juan Pierre (sniff), Ichiro can add value to your team in the batting average and stolen base departments with the possible added bonus of scoring runs.

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