As we all wait with bated breath to see if the Cubs will fend off a historic September collapse, it seemed like a good time to find a little bit of optimism - and we needn't look further than what Seiya Suzuki has done at the plate in the second half to find that light in the darkness, where the team's postseason odds have been halved in recent weeks.
There's been no shortage of praise for Cody Bellinger who, as you can see above, has been basically the same offensive player as Suzuki since the All-Star Break. He's the odds-on favorite to win NL Comeback Player of the Year - and with good reason. But for a variety of reasons, Suzuki's slow start has overshadowed his impressive body of work in the second half.
In the first half, Suzuki was, for all intents and purposes, a league average offensive player, checking in just above the MLB mark in terms of OPS. But those numbers were buoyed almost solely by his performance in the month of May, when he got on base at a .417 clip and slugged .560 in 27 games. In April, he was so-so, which most of us chalked up to his missing spring training action due to injury.
But June really hurt: Suzuki looked lost at the plate - that's the easiest way to put it - and he managed just a .475 OPS that month. In early August, David Ross benched Suzuki for a few games, giving him a reset mentally and physically and it's paid off in a dramatic way for both the Cubs and the 29-year-old outfielder.
Cubs have gotten peak Seiya Suzuki over the last six weeks
Since Aug. 9, though, Suzuki has been utterly relentless at the plate, posting a 1.114 OPS with 26 extra-base hits and 30 RBI in 38 games. In the last 30 days, he ranks fifth in all of Major League Baseball in OPS - trailing only Trea Turner, Yordan Alvarez, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Xander Bogaerts. This hot stretch has been particularly important of late, as Bellinger has cooled a bit off the torrid pace he'd maintained basically all year long.
In August, Suzuki was elite, slashing .321/.365/.641; then, he decided to take it up another notch here in September, when the team has needed him most, slashing .375/.439/.750. Will it be enough to jump start the offense and push the Cubs into the postseason? We'll see soon enough.