Largely devoid of long-term, high-dollar commitments, the Cubs' five-year, $80 million pact with Seiya Suzuki gets a good amount of attention. It's not that Suzuki has played poorly in his first two years with the team, but it's certainly safe to say he hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations that accompanied his jump to MLB last spring.
Cubs become a bigger threat when Seiya Suzuki is performing
Prolonged struggles this summer prompted David Ross to bench him in early August, playing the ever-hot hand of Mike Tauchman in his absence. But since Suzuki worked his way back into the rotation, he's been scorching hot, emerging as a key factor in the Cubs' offense.
"Honestly, it was my first time overcoming this challenge. I’ve actually never experienced it before. But I think it was really great for me because I was able to learn a lot of things while not playing. That can really benefit you as a player in the long run, as well. I’m glad I was able to use that time wisely."- Seiya Suzuki, MLB.com
The Cubs are better when Suzuki is hitting. Period. He hasn't been the same transformative bat he was in Japan - at least not yet - but if he can stay hot down the stretch, this is a guy who could be a real difference-maker as Chicago tries to hold onto a postseason spot and, just maybe, lock up a division title.
Since returning to the lineup, Suzuki is batting just a tick under .350. The batted ball metrics have suggested far more impressive performance than his traditional numbers bore out all season long and, hopefully, this is the start of something big.
His home run on Sunday had a triumphant Suzuki circling the bases, smile on his face - clearly relieved after those struggles drained him of his confidence earlier this month.
Hopefully, Suzuki can tap into this newfound aggression (no one has ever questioned his eye at the plate) and continue to drive the ball. If he can be a run-producer alongside the likes of Cody Bellinger, Jeimer Candelario, Ian Happ and the rest of the lineup, the Cubs will, all of the sudden, look much deeper and more dangerous. Who knows - they might even be able to be a dark horse threat come October.