Chicago Cubs News: Seiya Suzuki projected to be team's 2023 home run leader
The flaw for the Chicago Cubs' starting lineup as they head into the 2023 season is that the team lacks power. Cubs' president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer emphasized the team's need for power at the beginning of the season and while the additions of Trey Mancini, Cody Bellinger, and Dansby Swanson will certainly add some home run potential to the team, they are still without a true power hitter.
Entering his second season in Major League Baseball, there is a belief that right fielder Seiya Suzuki may take a step toward being the power hitter that he was in Japan. Suzuki hit 14 home runs last season but injuries limited him to under 120 games played. Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru of MLB's official website has predicted the leading home run hitter for each team in 2023 and Suzuki was the choice for the Cubs.
"Cubs: Seiya Suzuki (25) Suzuki’s power didn’t shine in his otherwise strong rookie campaign, but he did hit 38 home runs in his final season with NPB’s Hiroshima Carp in 2021, so the potential is certainly there. Keep an eye on … Cody Bellinger (18): Bellinger has a good opportunity to reestablish himself as a legitimate power threat as the Cubs’ primary center fielder -- assuming he’s healthy. "- Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru via MLB dot com
If Suzuki can take a step forward in regard to his power display, that would certainly be an important development for the Cubs. The free agent market for impact hitters next offseason is scarce with Shohei Ohtani and Manny Machado projected to be the only superstar bats available next offseason. There is no guarantee that either player will reach free agency, however, as the Los Angeles Angels are intent on re-signing Ohtani and Machado would need to opt out of the 10-year, $300MM deal he signed with the San Diego Padres in 2019. Suzuki becoming the impact hitter that he was in Japan would give the Cubs a superstar bat without the need to go searching for one.
Bellinger is an intriguing option as well. The 19 home runs that Bellinger hit with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season was the most he has had in a single season since 2019 when he had 47. The belief is that Bellinger's shoulder is fully healthy as he enters the 2023 season and that could lead to another increase in his home run totals. If that occurs, that certainly would be an encouraging sign for the Cubs' 2023 season.