With the new year underway and the players and owners holding a grudge match for a full month, it's time for me to stir up some controversy to keep this community entertained. Today's topic is one that I have commented on over and over again and one that I have held the same belief on for two months: Japanese import Seiya Suzuki.
Seiya Suzuki: The Player
Let's talk about Seiya Suzuki himself and why he has gained so much attention from the rest of the league and, from what I've seen, everybody else's offseason plan except mine. Suzuki played for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp that plays in the Central (and somehow also Western, but for the sake of the article stick with Central) League of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Hiroshima finished 63-68, good enough for fourth in the league. They averaged 3.9 runs per game and 4.1 runs given up per game, according to Baseball Reference. Suzuki had a monstrous season, hitting .317 (best in the league), 38 home runs (3rd in the league), and 88 RBIs (4th in league). Seems good, right? Well, let's dive in a bit deeper.
The obvious good aspect of Seiya Suzuki is that he is a great all-around hitter based on the three triple-crown stats. Judging by this. he very clearly has 2 of 5 tools from that alone. The thing I liked best about Suzuki when I dove into his stats was he did this with a very low amount of strikeouts. He had 88 strikeouts in 533 plate appearances, which leads to a 16.22 K%.I would add that he had one less walk than strikeout rate, so his BB% is about the same as his K%. To me, this screams leadoff-hitter potential for a team like the Phillies, one of the more aggressive suitors for Suzuki that has lacked a spark from the leadoff spot all of last season.It's the perfect fit for a generally strikeout-happy team. Might I add he's only 27? A prime Seiya Suzuki is exactly what the Phillies need to make a playoff push
This is where the contract comes in. Suzuki is expected to receive a 5 year/$55 mil. contract this offseason. That doesn't even include the posting fee, which is based off of a percentage of the salary he receives. Don't worry; I calculated it for you. If he receives $55 mil, the Phillies would pay $10.125 mil. to Hiroshima upfront for a posting fee. In theory, this would be another eight-figure contract on the payroll. Dream about signing Suzuki all you want, but when you realize that this team handed out $10 mil. to Corey Knebel (I get signing him and bidding against themselves, but $10 mil. for one of the younger relievers for only one year, what the hell are we doing?). Again, let's remember DD and company don't want to go over the luxury tax, so is this move that likely? Probably not. Then we get to the player development aspect. Do you guys remember Yoshi Tsutsugo? Probably not, right? That's because after having a MVP-level 2018 and 2019 seasons in Japan, he came to America and stalled out. Hard. And it's not like he didn't have the opportunities to. he played for a playoff contender in the Rays and is now contending for a starting spot on the Pirates. I get that Suzuki has slightly better stats, but do you take the risk? Isn't the reason we history is to look on the past in order to improve our future? Isn't that the reason we quote the definition of insanity? Don't become insane Phillies; stay away.
If you are somehow able to shrug off the bad, there are two things that are way worse that the Phillies can't control: the market and their location. As you are probably aware by the current makeup by the Phillies roster, Philadelphia isn't really appealing when compared to the West Coast. Before you cancel me, just think of the percentage of players from Japan that sign in Seattle, LA, San Francisco, etc. Speaking of San Fran and Seattle, the Giants have been reported to be one of the more aggressive suitors for Suzuki, and Seattle have reportedly been in contact with him. Considering salary and appeal, do you think the Phillies can pry him away from the west coast? This brings me to the inevitable conclusion about the Phillies relationship with Seiya Suzuki: It's time to say "See ya!" to Seiya.