Tuesday, March 28, 2023

MLB Star Power Index: Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki working smart, not hard; a salute to the cosplaying 1995 Mariners

Welcome to the MLB Star Power Index — a weekly undertaking that determines with awful authority which players are dominating the current zeitgeist of the sport, at least according to the narrow perceptions of this miserable scribe. While one’s presence on this list is often celebratory in nature, it can also be for purposes of lamentation or ridicule. The players listed are in no particular order, just like the phone book. To this week’s honorees …

Seiya Suzuki, Cubs

Among those of us who have no choice but to engage in gainful employment, “Work smart, not hard” remains sagacious advice. To be sure, “Work not at all and certainly not hard; heaven forfend working at all” would be better guiding wisdom, but the means to do so elude all but the most heavily trust-funded. 

This naturally enough brings us to Cubs rookie cloutsman Seiya Suzuki. The terms of his contract presumably bar him from not showing up to games in favor of watching prestige television, which means working smart but not hard is the most prudent path forward for him. Lo, he is doing that like no other. 

You see, Monsieur Suzuki at this writing has swung at just 30.2 percent of pitches presented to him by opposing tossers. While that’s not the lowest swing rate in MLB at this writing — Spencer Torkelson, Pavin Smith, and demi-god Juan Soto are just a bit south of Suzuki’s mark — it still stands out. That’s because Suzuki has actually been presented with an above-average percentage of strikes this season (45.2 percent versus a league mean of 41.8 percent). While the author is certainly not going to be bothered to manually determine whether what follows is precisely accurate, Suzuki boasts the biggest divide when it comes to swing rate versus the rates of strikes he has borne largely and laudably indifferent witness to. You shall meet him on his own terms or not at all. 

Suzuki at the plate is in some ways not unlike a Spanish cobbler who quite rightly prioritizes the observance of siesta time over having consistent working hours. “You are here to do business?” the cobbler says to the customer just as Suzuki says to the opposing pitcher. “Wait here while I decide whether my nap is over.” 

This would still be an admirable approach to human existence — one that, in a metaphorical sense, involves summoning a coworker to your office for an immediate meeting and then going home for the day before that coworker arrives — even if Suzuki had not thus far been one of the best hitters in baseball. The reality, though, is that Suzuki at this writing is slashing .400/.543/.960 with four homers in nine games and an NL-leading OPS+ of 321. Best of all, those bestowals have come in the marked absence of any Kevin Youkilis-grade grunting, huffing, and sweating. If Suzuki were a sales professional, then he’d hit his numbers by mid-morning and not return from lunch, instead opting to play video games in a hammock or lie in his yard. 

This is fully in keeping with the professional ethos recently voiced by aggressively retired Metropolitan David Wright: 

The advancement of this, the only first principle worth getting out of bed for (after 11:30 a.m.) is why Seiya Suzuki has been added to the sacred honor roll of Wild Boars in Haifa Taking Naps After Eating All the Garbage:

Hear ye, hear ye: 

Welcome, Seiya Suzuki to the heights where only eagles dare — dare to relax and watch some wrestling with a hot and restorative Tombstone pizza near at hand. 

These particular Seattle Mariners fans

The various and sundry “me and the boys/girls after we get the vaccine” memes have all led up to this moment, which is brought to us via the concerted and heaven-sent efforts of some Seattle Mariners rooters: 

Excelsior! The ’95 Mariners are fondly remembered in Seattle and environs for winning the AL West over the Angels in white-knuckled fashion and then coming back from down 0-2 in the best-of-five ALDS to stun the Yankees. Sure, the M’s fell to Cleveland in the ALCS, but that ’95 Cleveland team stands as one of the best of the modern era. 

More to the point, all available hosannas go out to this band of cosplaying ticket-holders for repping the best Mariners team of the 20th century right down to Junior’s backward cap, Dan Wilson’s full gear, Randy Johnson’s plunging tresses, Rich Amaral’s choice of beverage, and Jay Buhner’s baldness. Speaking of baldness: 

The similarities cease there because Jay Buhner, unlike Mr. Met, isn’t a bulbous cuckold loser. 

In any event, good work by these particular Seattle Mariners fans. 

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