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How Does Seiya Suzuki Stack Up?

Yukihito Taguchi / USA TODAY Sports

With Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki signing with the Chicago Cubs (written about by Kevin Goldstein here while Dan Szymborski ran projections on him here), I wanted to compare him to other Japanese position players who have moved to MLB in recent years. The comparisons I made were to the final NPB years of Shohei Ohtani, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, and Shogo Akiyama. But considering Ohtani was injured in 2017, his stats will be from both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Data is based on 1.02 – Essence of Baseball public data managed by DELTAGRAPHS.

Comparing Recent Japanese Position Players’ WAR
Player Year PA Batting Base Running Fielding Pos WAR
Shohei Ohtani ’16 382 33.2 3.4 -0.2 -5.9 4.4
Shohei Ohtani ’17 231 15.9 0.3 0.2 -5.2 1.9
Tsutsugo Yoshitomo ’19 557 23.3 -1.5 -16.7 -9.8 1.3
Shogo Akiyama ’19 678 31.0 2.3 -4.3 4.7 5.6
Seiya Suzuki ’21 533 57.6 -0.4 11.2 -4.4 8.6

Suzuki posted 8.6 WAR in 2021, the best for position player last year. His high WAR is based on great batting value (+57.6 per 500 PA), higher than Ohtani (+43) and twice that of Tsutsugo (+21) and Akiyama (+23). His baserunning value of -0.4 is average in NPB, and his total baserunning value of +1.4 from 2019-2021 is neither good nor bad. Meanwhile, he is a good right fielder, putting up a fielding value of +11.2 (equal UZR). Tsutsugo (-16.7) is a left fielder and Akiyama(-4.3) is a center fielder, so we cannot simply compare them, but I think we can expect better fielding stats than Tsutsugo in MLB. Read the rest of this entry »