With Andruw Jones and the recent acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki, the Yankees can boast something that no other team can; having two outfielders with 10 Gold Gloves apiece. However, even though they have the same amount of hardware, the two couldn’t be further apart in their defensive ability.
Looking at the box score from last night’s game against the Red Sox, one would suspect it wasn’t the Yankee defense that lost the game since neither team committed an error. But it was Jones’ lack of mobility in left field that ended up costing the Yankees the game. In the second inning Ryan Sweeney doubled to the wall in left plating two Red Sox. The issue here, in which the commentators during the telecast even touched upon, was that if Ichiro was in left field the ball would have probably been cut off and Sweeney held to a single which would have meant Jarrod Saltalamacchia never scores that second run. Then in the 7th, a routine fly ball dropped in front of Jones when he didn’t make a break on the ball until the ball had already gotten over the head of Derek Jeter at short.
Ichiro, on the other hand, is still one of the games premier defensive outfielders. When comparing the two player’s UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) statistic, which indicates how many runs a player saves his team, Ichiro is at a 14.9 UZR while Jones has a 4.0 UZR. Ichiro has been expected to move to left field, but even with Nick Swisher on the verge of coming back, Ichiro should be playing in the more cavernous left field sooner rather than later. Between Ichiro’s legs and his throwing arm, he is a much bigger asset playing in left then either Jones or Raul Ibanez who are both better suited to play the less spacious right field of Yankee Stadium.
Swisher, who was the designated hitter in last nights game, hopes to be back in the outfield here in the coming days. Once Swisher is back it will move Ichiro over to left and Jones back into the DH role, platooning with Ibanez. All of which just improves the team with the best record in the American League at 60 wins and 41 losses going into Monday’s game against the second place Orioles.