The Atlanta Braves won the World Series and, after going through a horribly comedic championship parade, they now have the daunting task of trying to become the first repeat World Series winner since 2000. The other 29 Major League clubs are all looking to knock the Braves off their thrones, and there is likely an international free agent there. who could really help accomplish this mission.
Seiya Suzuki is a 27-year-old Japanese outfielder with potential to be a superstar in Major League Baseball. It is said in the streets that he could be the best Japanese field batsman since Hideki matsui. In 2021, Suzuki led the Nippon Professional Baseball League with an 8.4 WAR. He cut .319 .436 / .640 with 38 dingers. Want to know the best part? Suzuki walked more times (88) than he pulled out (87). As someone of immense value to the discipline of the plate, that last stat is just * kiss your fingers * icing on the cake!
To put those numbers into perspective, in Shohei Ohtani’s last season in the NPB League, Ohtani slashed 0.332 / 0.403 / 0.540 with eight homers in 231 home plate appearances and 63 strikeouts as well as 24 walks. To be fair, Ohtani was just 22 in his final season in Japan, and he missed much of the season due to injury. While Suzuki had better numbers in his last season with NPB and played no less than 100 games in a season since 2015, his age is worrying. At 27, it’s hard to imagine that Suzuki has much room to grow as a hitter. On the flip side, we’ve seen the main windows of elite MLB talent expand over the past decade (Nelson Cruz still has 41), Suzuki’s ceiling appears to be lower than that of Ohtani in 2017.
That being said, anyone who can provide similar numbers to Ohtani on offense would be a valuable asset to any team. The discipline of the plates has especially become an important part of the game today. With record-breaking pitching speed and analytics aimed at more swing-and-miss strategies than ever before, someone who can fire those fastballs into the zone is extremely effective as a hitter. This is one of the main reasons Juan soto has become one of the best pure hitters in the game. Suzuki will bring the same kind of energy to any Major League ball club he signs with. He may not be as successful as Soto, but he has the potential to have a similar impact.
So… which teams could use a bat like Suzuki? Well, all of them. But which teams Actually have a chance to sign it? In order to understand this, I’ll take a look at a few things: 1) the teams with the money to spend big on a Japanese free agent (let’s face it, the Orioles, Guardians, Marlins, and Pirates don’t have enough money to spend on a Japanese free agent). money to acquire someone like Suzuki). He’s over 25, so he won’t be constrained by MLB international spending limits, and 2) teams needing an outfielder / strong bat. Here are its most obvious landing points.