We all knew that Seiya Suzuki probably wasn’t going to flirt with a 1.000 OPS like he did en route to April National League Player of the Month honors this spring. Sure enough, he struggled mightily in May and has weathered his share of injuries before settling in nicely over the last month-plus, giving us a more realistic idea of what to expect from the Cubs outfielder in 2023.
"“There’s a lot of power in going back and assessing how your season went,” Cubs manager David Ross told MLB.com recently. “Him, in particular, with just how he started, the struggles he went through, the injury, the regroup. And then finding such a comfortable at-bat here lately down the stretch has been a real positive.”"
In 10 games this month, Suzuki is just one home run away from tying his single-month best (4) – and he’s slashing an impressive .308/.342/.564 in 41 plate appearances. He’s caught the attention of teammates for his constant desire to work – whether it be studying materials or getting extra reps in the cage – which bodes well for him moving forward.
With Chicago cutting ties with Jason Heyward and eating the final year of his contract, right field irrefutably belongs to Suzuki heading into ’23 – when the Cubs should be a far more competitive team. If they’re going to take that step, though, the Japanese-born outfielder will need to play a big part for the team.
Cubs: Seiya Suzuki has the tools to be an impact player for a long time
Suzuki has been very effective in terms of plate discipline, ranking in the 86th percentile in chase rate this year. Sometimes, though, that’s led to him taking called strikes on very hittable pitches, but it’s all part of the learning process here in year one. He’s showcased solid bat-to-ball skills and above-average speed, to boot, impacting games in all sorts of ways over the course of the season.
"“I feel like I’m getting used to the atmosphere,” Suzuki told MLB.com via his interpreter, Toy Matsushita. “I also feel really good in the box. I just feel like everything’s coming together. There were ups and downs obviously at the start of the season, but I definitely feel better right now.”"
On the year, Suzuki has amassed 1.5 bWAR and a .263/.333/.436 line. Now, that’s not exactly superstar-level performance, but given it’s his first taste not only of big league action, but of life outside of Japan – and the fact he’s firing on all cylinders to close out the year – I expect some big things from this guy next season.