Cubs: Willson Contreras calls Seiya Suzuki ‘best’ he’s ever played with

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Willson Contreras has played with a lot of very talented players during his time with the Cubs. From Cy Young winners to postseason legends, Rookies of the Year and MVPs – he’s enjoyed some pretty top-shelf company on the North Side. But there’s one guy who stands head and shoulders above them all: Chicago rookie outfielder Seiya Suzuki.

"“He’s the best player that I’ve ever played with, to be honest,” Contreras told the Daily Herald. “His plate discipline is insane. “Everything that he does on the field, the way he takes care of himself (on) and off the field is amazing.”"

Suzuki racked up three more walks in Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to Tampa Bay and enters action Wednesday night leading the league in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. Oh, and he’s already worth 1.0 bWAR not even two weeks into the season.

In his last AB Tuesday, Suzuki really impressed me. Facing sidearming reliever Ryan Thompson, it was clear that he was very uncomfortable as he bailed out on a breaking ball that dropped cleanly into the zone to start the at-bat. He quickly went down in the count 1-2, fouled a pitch off then battled all the way back to work a walk.

That type of mid-plate appearance adjustment is perhaps rarer today than ever before. And with just 11 big league games under his belt, Suzuki made one – once again showcasing a plate discipline and approach unlike anything I’ve ever seen personally. There’s rarely a chase (he ranks in the 100th percentile in chase rate) – and he has a clear plan of attack heading into each trip to the plate.

When he heard about what Contreras had to say about him, Suzuki was as on-brand as ever, gracious and humbled.

"“Obviously Willson’s a player that’s been playing here for a long time and he’s been one of the greatest catchers in the major leagues. To be able to hear something like that for is something I’m very, very thankful for.”"

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It’s a bold statement from the two-time All-Star. But if Suzuki keeps playing anywhere near the level he has to open the 2022 season, it’ll be more than justified.