Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki was signed to a commitment that totaled over $100 million before the 2022 season in order to contribute, obviously, to this 2022 season. But we all knew at the time that the signing was as much about 2023 and beyond as it was about this year, and thus, success for Suzuki in 2022 would not necessarily require a Cubs postseason run – it would require things looking good for him as a Cubs middle-of-the-order bat heading into the offseason.
How do things stand on that front? Well, the dude is hot as heck right now, and homered again last night. It was a beaut, too, as Suzuki sized up the pitch and then UNLOADED 435 feet to center:
That homer pushed Suzuki’s season slash line up to .260/.332/.435/113 wRC+, and perhaps more importantly, the trajectory of his season – the adjusting – is what you would hope to see in a stateside debut for a player like Suzuki. The adjustments, they just keep coming.
I like what Nico Hoerner had to say about his teammate at Cubs.com: “I think what you’ve seen from him this year is just scratching the surface. And just away from the game of baseball, just life wise, I think it’s just got to be just incredibly challenging. We’ve talked about it some, but he’ll come into next year with a real sense of what’s ahead of him – weather, to travel, to opposing pitchers, to food, to everything in between that a lot of us take for granted. So, if this is his baseline of ability, we’ve got a really, really solid player and a guy who is going to continue to improve.”
It’s easy to forget just how much Suzuki has had to deal with in this transition, and Hoerner is right: if we’re seeing a baseline of baseball ability established – including the ability to adjust and counter-adjust – then we could really see a breakout next year.
“It’s not just finishing up the season strong,” Suzuki, himself, said of what he wants to do the rest of the way, via NBC. “I want to make sure I don’t get injured, but also failing, and then benefiting off of that. I feel that connects to my play next year. I feel like a lot of things are really important until the end of the season from now. But I just want to take everything in and make sure it benefits me next year.”
Next year, indeed. Exactly what you want to see from Seiya Suzuki down the stretch: improvements that give you optimism about next year – for Suzuki and for the Chicago Cubs – and set him up for future success. This last month or so has looked mighty good on that front.