Team: Hiroshima Carp
Current status: Suzuki has five years of the nine needed to become an international free agent. But the Carp have been generous in letting big contributors go. He told Kyodo News this summer that he is eager to try new things and believes he can adapt to major league pitching, but refused to say whether playing in the majors is in his plans.
Pos: RF Age: 25, he’ll be 26 on Aug. 18, 2020. Bats: R
Honors: Best Nine (2016, 2017, 2018). Golden Glove (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). Premier 12 MVP (2019).
League leader: Runs (1), Batting Average (1), On-Base Percentage (1) — all 2019. WAR, Win Shares (2019)
Suzuki is probably the best hitter in Japan at the moment. A hard-throwing, hard-hitting high school pitcher, he was Hiroshima’s second draft pick as an infielder in 2012. Suzuki came up with a strong arm and good speed.
He is still a good base runner with above-average speed, but he’s not a particularly good base stealer. Instead, he has 13 kilograms of muscle to his frame and after being sidelined briefly the past few seasons due to minor injury, he played in all but three of Hiroshima’s games in 2019.
Suzuki has also added power and plate discipline to his package. According to Delta Graphs, Suzuki swung at a career-low 16.9 percent of pitches outside of the zone in 2019, second in Japan only to Tetsuto Yamada, the Yakult Swallows’ power-hitting second baseman.
Despite his strong offensive numbers in 2019, Suzuki didn’t hit the ball as hard this season as he has in the past and his BABIP was close to his career norm. Considering he’s a hard fly batter with good plate discipline, it seems very likely he’ll be able to maintain the current level of production — and with good luck could post some historic numbers in 2020.
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