Seiya Suzuki went 3-4 in the Chicago Cubs' 6-0 win over the Rockies at Wrigley Friday afternoon, one of those hits was a home run. His two-run blast in the bottom of the fourth inning was his 20th home run of the season. Suzuki has reached the 20-home run mark in a season for the first time in his MLB career, he is also the third Japanese-born player to accomplish 20+ homers and 70+ RBI in a season. Hideki Matsui and Shohei Ohtani are the only others to accomplish that feat.
It would have been hard to believe not too long ago that Suzuki would reach 20 homers this year. He started the season on the IL with an oblique injury and then hit an awful slump mid-season. Suzuki entered August with only eight home runs and .713 OPS in 88 games played. He has hit 12 home runs in his last 43 games.
This is what the Cubs and the fans have wanted to see from the former NPB star. Suzuki's groundball rate dropped from 46 percent in his first 88 games to roughly 40 percent since August 1st. His home run/flyball (HR/FB) ratio has doubled in his last 43 games compared to his first 88.
Suzuki was brought in to be a slugging run producer and adjusting to MLB pitching was going to require some work, as with any rookie. With that said he seems to have adjusted well and his natural power has been flourishing lately. This is the same guy who slugged 182 home runs in NPB play, and from 2016-2021 averaged roughly 30 home runs a season. In his final NPB season with Hiroshima in 2021 he slugged a career-high 38 home runs.
One could wonder how many homers Suzuki could have slugged this year had he been healthy since the beginning. Even with that bad slump in the middle, it seems reasonable to wonder if he was still not 100% healthy when he was struggling and it was taking a hit on him mentally. The "benching" really seemed to help him reset. If things go well next year, maybe we could see Suzuki flirt with the 30-home run mark.