There was a time, not too long ago, when having Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Ichiro Suzuki in the same lineup would have been fantastic. Three great hitters with Hall of Fame-caliber careers, all on the same team? Any fan would want that. Unfortunately, it’s not 2004 anymore, and instead of being worth 5 wins each, they’re looking at possibly being worth 5 wins all together.

Here are they’re projected FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement, from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS, Brian Cartwright’s Oliver, and the FanGraphs Fan projections, along with the average of the three systems (a description of all the projection systems can be found here):


A-Rod’s projections are almost exact across the board and Jeter’s are pretty similar. Suzuki’s are all over the place with Oliver especially pessimistic. If Ichiro actually is at replacement level this year, 2014 will be very ugly.

If you’re like me (and for your sake I hope that you’re not), then the thought of the Yankees still owing these three at least $152 million makes you want to throw up. So instead of thinking about that, let’s look simply at how these players compare to each other this year, and how they’ve compared to each other over their careers.

The three projections do not agree on which of these players will be worth the most fWAR (Fangraphs version of WAR as opposed to Baseball-Reference), nor do they agree on who will be worth the least. How often has each of these guys out fWAR’d the other two in a given season? Let’s take a trip down sabermetric/never touched a girl lane.

(Note: highlighted cells indicate that the player led the group, not that he led the league)

A-Rod, predictably, led the group more than anyone else. He is, after all, the active leader in fWAR. He topped this bunch seven times since Ichiro’s arrival in 2001. In 2005, he was worth a full win more than the other two combined.

Jeter came out on top three times since 2001: his near-MVP seasons in 2006 and 2009, and this past season. He also has two interesting distinctions: The lowest fWAR to lead the trio (3.2 in 2012) and the highest fWAR while finishing third in the group (5.1 in 2004).

Suzuki, meanwhile, has led twice: in 2004 when he edged A-Rod by just 0.3, and in 2010. Rodriguez was actually the far superior player during Ichiro’s 2001 MVP campaign, posting 7.8 fWAR to Suzuki’s 6.1 (insert your “Bbbbbbbbbbut PLAYOFFS!!!!!!” comment here).

One other fun fact: Between 2001 and 2009, each individual player had an fWAR of at least 5.8 in three different seasons. Over the same span, there were only three seasons in which one of them dipped below 4 wins – Ichiro came in at 3.4 in 2005 while Jeter posted 3.8 in both 2007 and 2008.

Until 2012, at least one of them was worth a minimum of 4 wins every season. This upcoming season could be the first time that all of them are worth less than 3 each. Hopefully it won’t also be the first time that they are all worth less than 2.