Seiya Suzuki last night tied Akinora Iwamura – appropriately of the Rays – for the longest hit streak by a Japanese player to begin his MLB career, hitting safely in his 9th straight game (the game with a pinch-hit walk doesn’t count as a game played, it seems, because he had no official At Bats (that seems fair to me!)). He’ll go for the record tonight, and while it’s one of those ephemeral, minor records, it still seems kinda cool, and underscores just how hot Suzuki has been to begin his big league career.
The hit came as part of another great night at the plate – two singles, a HBP (which came on a three-ball count, so it should count in his stats as earning a “walk”), and a reached-on-error, which was absolutely forced by his speed.
Speaking of which, hopefully you’ve noticed by now just how fast Suzuki is:
That was Suzuki trying to stretch a single into a double, booking it out of the box. It was an acceptable decision, in my view, by Suzuki to try to catch the Rays napping – it took a perfectly-placed, albeit loopy – throw to get him. He actually did wind up beating the throw on replay, but he momentarily popped off the base, so the out call stood.
Set that part aside for a moment, and just watch again how FAST the guy is. Your eyes aren’t lying: Suzuki has the 11th HIGHEST sprint speed in baseball this year, per Statcast! That will stabilize very quickly, and while more runners will probably pass him as they qualify, it’s already very safe to say that, in addition to everything else Suzuki brings to the table, he brings speed, too.
Through 10 games, Suzuki is up to a .429/.564/.929 slash line, good for a 285 wRC+ (5th in baseball, 2nd in the NL). He’s been worth 1.0 WAR so far, so he’s on pace to finish the year worth 16.0 WAR, breaking Babe Ruth’s record (15.0), set in 1923. That is something that is definitely going to happen.