The results for Seiya Suzuki have been good through three games: 13 plate appearances, three hits, a homer, four strikeouts but also four walks, and a sac fly. Doing slash lines based on 13 plate appearances is a bit silly, but just for context, it’s .375/.538/.750.
But set aside the results for a moment, because they are always so full of noise in tiny samples. Instead, let’s think about how Suzuki has LOOKED at the plate so far.
To my eye, Suzuki’s plate appearances have LOOKED incredibly impressive thus far, and against some of the nastiest pitchers in all of MLB. We knew he was coming with one of the best combinations of zone awareness and power in the NPB, but what he’s shown so far – spitting on so many good pitcher pitches, attacking aggressively in the zone when he’s ahead, putting the ball in play with two strikes, basically never whiffing, etc. – has really been fantastic.
I don’t think a better start, from this particular perspective, was even remotely realistic.
From Jordan Bastian’s piece on Suzuki’s first series:
Suzuki has seen 57 pitches in his first 13 trips to the plate for an average of 4.38 per plate appearance. Within that showing, the righty-swinging slugger has just one whiff among 11 swings. The other 10 swings include five foul balls, two singles, a sacrifice fly, one groundout and Sunday’s home run.
“It’s pretty amazing, man, to be honest with you,” Cubs catcher Yan Gomes said. “And it’s not so much just not swinging at pitches. He doesn’t even bite at them, either. That usually happens the opposite way early on. But just having little conversations with him, you can tell he’s done it. He’s obviously been playing in Japan and at the higher level there for a long time.”
I still think the challenges and adjustments are coming, as Craig Counsell suggested after the series. Of Suzuki, Counsell said this (via Adam McCalvy): “He’s a good player. The players that performed well in that league are going to come over here and they’re going to have some success. So, it’s a true feeling-out period for us and for him. We’ll have a lot more information next time we face him.”
Fair enough. Maybe some of the ways to attack Suzuki will quickly become apparent. That said, more information works in both directions.Who is to say Suzuki won’t be the one, longer term, doing the better adjusting as he gains more experience and more information about the league? His discipline at the plate in the series was just incredibly impressive for a guy who – by his own words – has never seen pitchers quite like that. Seems like a good sign for the adjustments to come.
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) April 10, 2022