Saturday, April 18, 2009

Singles Man

Ichiro Suzuki is known for being a Gold Glove fielder and a hits machine. There is no denying he is a great baseball player but is he worth $100million over 5 years? Most will jump out and say that he deserves every penny because of what he does on the field. But wait, let's take a look at his stats and see what he actually produces on the field.

Since debuting in 2001 Ichiro has collected, as of today, 1809 hits while producing a .331AVG over that span. He's done the trot around the bases 74 times and driven in 474. He is also a thief with 316 stolen bases. Now, impressed? I am.

Lets jump a little further into the numbers.

The 1809 hits are a little deceiving. What is he producing under the 1809. Of the 1809 hits he has produced at the major league level 1474 are singles, that's 81.48% of his hits only have him running to first base. Let me remind you again about his salary, $100million over 5 years. Hmmm, can you see where I am going with this?

Yes, Ichiro has the great numbers with his AVG and stolen bases but he is a pure singles hitter. Are you going to tell me that the Mariners are paying around $20 mllion every year for a singles hitter? If Mariner's fans and general baseball fans looked deeper into the stats would they be a little skeptical on why the M's handed him this contract. It seems a little extreme to pay someone that much money just to hit singles. Hitting homeruns like Pujols and pitching like Johan deserve hefty salaries but does Ichiro really deserve his salary.

There are plenty of reason outside the baseball world where my argument about his salary is bounced to the curb. First, marketing. Every team in the league needs someone that they can market to their fans because we all know the merchandise, official merchandise, is not on the cheap end of the spectrum. Who better to market then Ichiro. A guy who is always contending for a batting title and who is from a country of almost 120 million who live and breathe anything foreign, especially baseball. The money the M's receive in merchandise easily offsets Ichiro's salary. Secondly, a team needs to give their fans some hope. Ichiro stands for hope. A man who will produce every night with a smile.

I guess from a baseball perspective he doesn't deserve his pay but on a marketing and business level he does. Thing is, the M's could easily have offered $20million a year to someone with special talent that you is found in premium players like Pujols, Johan, and Hanley. With those kind of players you have the best of both worlds.

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