A week into the season, at which point Seiya Suzuki had set the world ablaze with his scorching-hot start, a buddy and I were texting and we were half-seriously kicking the tires on buying a Suzuki jersey.
But me, being the cautious individual I am, said it would ‘take more than a week, or even a month’ of strong play from a rookie to make me pull the trigger (because, after all, it’s not like jerseys are cheap these days). And while I’m not anywhere close to writing off Suzuki, he’s hit some big-time struggles of late – and is now in the position where he needs to make serious adjustments to get back on-track.
Over the last 15 days, the Chicago Cubs outfielder has managed just one walk to go along with 13 strikeouts en route to a .178/.196/.267 line at the dish. His patience and approach – which was praised constantly in the early going – has led to him taking a lot of hittable pitches of late.
"“To everyone, it was like, ‘Wow, this guy’s taking the league by storm, right?'” Ross told MLB.com this week. “Now, you’re seeing the league kind of adjust. And he’s also in that same boat of adjusting back to pitchers.”"
Suzuki is a player who takes a ton of pride in his performance and we know he’s not happy with how he’s been playing lately. But at the big league level, it can be a fine line to walk: between being hard on yourself and wanting more and overextending your self and furthering the funk you’re in at the plate.
All told, thanks to that hot start, Suzuki still boasts an .840 OPS on the season – due largely to his walk rate, which ranks in the top nine percent of the league even after drawing just that one walk over the last two weeks.
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Attacking fastballs – especially early in the count – will be a key to getting him back on track. As patient as he likes to be and as great as he is working counts and extending at-bats, getting some knocks on the score card is going to go a long way toward turning things around for Suzuki.