Japanese right-handed-hitting pitcher Seiya Suzuki might be Major League Baseball’s next superstar. Since joining the Chicago Cubs in March 2022, on a five-year contract worth $85 million, he’s been nothing short of impressive.
In fact, the 27-year-old started his MLB career in top gear with an eight-game hit streak. Only the third player in the history of the Cubs to do so. Previously, Andy Pafko made hits in nine straight games in 1943, and Joe Munson who did it in eight games in 1925.
If it’s true that morning shows the day, we can only expect to see more from Suzuki in the future. Actually, some believe he could become the most successful Japanese player ever to play in the MLB. Even more successful than the legendary Ichiro Suzuki.
Coming to America
Baseball fans and experts alike believe Japan’s Seiya Suzuki has a bright future in the MLB. His achievements in his native Japan have set expectations high. He played nine seasons for the Hiroshima Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) before making the jump to the MLB. In his last season with the Carp, he batted .309 with 38 home runs and 88 RBIs. Thanks to his impressive performances in 2021, he earned a place in the all-star game of the NPB for a fifth time.
His amazing stats put him on the radar of big MLB clubs, including the Chicago Cubs. Which is why it’s not surprising that they agreed on giving a lucrative contract to the Japanese star. From his contract with the Cubs, Suzuki will receive $85 million across five years, while his former team – the Hiroshima Carp – will receive a posting fee worth $14.6 million.
Seiya Suzuki Isn’t the Highest-Paid Japanese Player
Seiya Suzuki isn’t the highest-paid Japanese player in the history of the MLB. The current record-holder is Masahiro Tanaka. In 2014 he inked a seven-year $155 million deal with the New York Yankees. In addition to paying Tanaka, the Yankees also had to pay $20 million to his former club, the Rakuten Eagles. With a total of $175 million spent on bringing Tanaka to New York, the transfer was the largest for a non-US player in the history of the league. Other high-paid Japanese MLB players include Shohei Ohtani, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish, and so on.
To put Tanaka’s transfer cost into perspective, consider the most successful Japanese player in the MLB: Ichiro Suzuki. His transfer cost of $13 million was somewhat of a bargain. When the Seattle Mariners signed him in 2001 $14 million to the outfielder and $13 million to his former club in Japan was the total cost.
Needless to say that the hefty contract had paid off quickly. Ichiro Suzuki quickly became a true superstar, posting some impressive numbers along the way. After his MLB career finished, he had over 3,000 hits in his portfolio. In fact, with a total of 4,367 hits in his professional career in Japan and the United States, he’s the most successful player in the world in that aspect of the game.
More Japanese Players to Follow Suit?
Some believe that Seiya Suzuki’s move will spark a sort of a revolution in the MLB, with many of his fellow Japanese expected to follow suit. Seiya Suzuki is a fantastic player, but he was never crowned the MVP of the Japanese baseball league. In fact, there are several other players still playing in the NPB that have had better stats than him. Let that sink in for a moment.
Tomoyuki Sugano (pitcher) and Hayato Sakamoto (shortstop) are among the players who are thought to be (at least) as equally good as Seiya Suzuki. Sugano, who plays for the Yomiuri Giants is the reigning MVP of the NPB. He’s one of a handful of players to have won that accolade twice.
Yoshihiro Maru of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp also holds two NPG MVP titles. When he won his first MVP title (2017), Maru batted .308 with 109 runs scored, and 92 RBIs. That’s better than what Seiya Suzuki recorded in his final season in Japan.
Then, there’s Rōki Sasaki, a 20-year-old pitcher whom everyone in Japan predicts an illustrious future. The Chiba Lotte Marines player got himself in the spotlight in 2021 after pitching the first perfect game in Japanese baseball after 28 years. Considering that there hasn’t been a perfect game in the MLB since 2012, no one should be surprised if a big American team makes a move to sign Sasaki in the near future.