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Players To Be Posted: Seiya Suzuki (OF)

SP/DH Shohei Ohtani just won the 2021 AL MVP last night. Ichiro Suzuki was just announced as an inductee into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame on Wednesday night. Japanese baseball is booming currently.

On Wednesday, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the NBP are going to post outfielder Seiya Suzuki for this offseason. The Yankees do have a ton of outfield talent, but is he someone they should have an interest in?

Superstar outfielder Seiya Suzuki will be posted to @MLB teams next week by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, source confirms. @MLBNetwork — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 18, 2021
 

Who Is Seiya Suzuki? (History and Stats)

Seiya Suzuki is a 27-year-old outfielder who has spent the last 9 years with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp organization in the Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB). Drafted out of high school in the 2nd round of the 2012 NPB Draft, Suzuki was originally considered a pitching prospect. The Carp, however quickly started to develop him as an infielder that next season.

Suzuki would make his NPB debut on September 14th, 2013 as a 19-year-old, though he spent the large part of the season (93 of his 104 games) with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp farm team.

Unlike the MLB/MiLB, the NPB’s farm system consists of just 1 additional team from their primary franchises. What makes this confusing is that both teams are called the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, however the primary franchise plays in the Central League (JPCL) while the farm team plays in the Western League (JPWL). There is also the Eastern League (JPEL) which serves as the farm league for the Pacific League (JPPL).

Suzuki would also spend 2014 between the JPCL and the JPWL before really sticking in the JPCL starting in 2015. The 2015 season also brought about another move for Suzuki as they moved him from the infield into the outfield. This proved to be the right move going forward for the Carp.

While Suzuki missed opening day in 2016 with a hamstring injury, he would return to the Carp quickly and earn his first All-Star honors. Suzuki also was a Best Nine Award winner, a Gold Glove winner, helped lead the Carp to their first pennant since 1991 and he led the Central League in both Batting Average (.335) and On-Base Percentage (.404). From 2017-2021, Suzuki would continue to add to his award resume with another 4 All-Star appearances (2017-2019; 2021), 3 more Best Nine Awards (2017-2019), and 2 more Gold Gloves (2017, 2019). (Suzuki also won the 2019 Home Run Derby.) Outside of the NPB, Suzuki also helped lead Team Japan to the Gold Medal in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics (which were played this past summer in 2021).

In his career, Suzuki has dealt with some injuries, starting with the 2016 hamstring injury. In 2017 his season was ended early in August to get surgery to treat a malleolar fracture. In 2018 he was out for 2 weeks with lower body stiffness.

Statistics wise, in his 9 years in the JPCL/NPB Suzuki has combined to hit to a triple-slash of .315/.415/.571 with a .985 OPS alongside 937 Hits, 182 Home Runs and 562 RBI’s in 901 games. He also drew 486 walks to 567 strikeouts. Fielding wise the statistics are not perfect with a .986 fielding percentage in the outfield.

Suzuki has hit to a .300+ batting average each season since 2016, has had a .400+ each season since 2017, and a .540+ slugging percentage each season since 2016.

 

Could He Be a Fit in The Bronx?

I always, always, always want the Yankees to be players on the international market. I wanted the Yankees to go after Tomoyuki Sugano last year, heck I even mapped out a 6-man rotation outline for the team to follow to help him transition from the NPB to the MLB. (At that same point, Sugano has 3/$30M remaining with the Yomiuri Giants and just pitched to a 3.16 ERA over 119.2 innings. I’m still interested.)

Now, is my interest in Japanese/International talent largely because Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki were (and still are) my two favorite baseball players ever? Well, yeah. However, many many Japanese players have come over and had success in the MLB in recent years, though most of them are/were pitchers:

Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Kenta Maeda, and Shohei Ohtani

Ohtani has now- especially after his .965 OPS season and his unanimous AL MVP win- shown that there is offensive talent in the NPB. He’s really the first do so since the duo of Matsui/Ichiro did so throughout the 2000’s. Could Seiya Suzuki continue this trend?

I’m fairly confident in Suzuki’s abilities as a hitter. I also am fairly confident that he’s going to be a fine defender in the MLB. However, I cannot think of a place for him with the Yankees.

One factor that I haven’t talked about with Suzuki is how he is a right-handed hitter. The Yankees already have plenty of right-handed hitting outfielders (Judge, Stanton, Frazier) thus bringing in Suzuki would be an interesting move and would likely mean the Yankees would be moving on from Frazier. While that’s plausible, it also isn’t necessary to do given the Yankees more pressing needs elsewhere (shortstop, starting pitching, catching).

I also don’t think Suzuki is a center field option, so his signing would not mean that he could replace Aaron Hicks (as would a move for a Bryan Reynolds/Starling Marte/etc).

Seiya Suzuki is going to be an interesting name to follow this offseason. (Personally, I see a team in the AL West signing him.) However, following his market over the next few weeks is likely not ever to really include interest from the Yankees.

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