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The Store


Kurt Suzuki - Signed to be the starter?

Attached Image: Suzuki_Kurt_Face_US_720.jpg Mike Berardino reported this weekend that Terry Ryan expected Kurt Suzuki to start this year for the Minnesota Twins at catcher. At the time of the signing, it appeared that Suzuki was signed to give the Twins a veteran backup. On this site, there were certainly questions about his defense and concern about the workload he carried early in his career. At the time, the best available options other than Suzuki were John Buck or retaining Doumit. While Suzuki has been a poor pitch framer, Doumit and Buck are at the bottom.

Does it matter that Suzuki is a poor at framing pitches? Perhaps he makes up for it in working with pitchers and pitch selection.

If a catcher has an impact on pitcher performance, how might it show up in the stats? FIP uses the defense independent stats of strikeouts, walks and home runs. I am not sure how much a catcher might impact home runs, but if he impacts anything it will be strikeouts and walks. Suzuki's has worked for two clubs in each of the last two years. Add 2011 and there is a sample of over 12000 batters faced. How does he compare to the 12 other catchers who caught for Oakland or Washington in the last three years?

[TABLE="width: 576"]
[TR]
[TD]Year[/TD]
[TD]Team[/TD]
[TD]Suzuki[/TD]
[TD]Others[/TD]
[TD]Suzuki[/TD]
[TD]Others[/TD]
[TD]Suzuki[/TD]
[TD]Others[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD]k/bb[/TD]
[TD]k/bb[/TD]
[TD]K%[/TD]
[TD]K%[/TD]
[TD]BB%[/TD]
[TD]BB%[/TD]
[TD]BF[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2013[/TD]
[TD]OAK[/TD]
[TD]1.86[/TD]
[TD]2.84[/TD]
[TD]17.06%[/TD]
[TD]19.66%[/TD]
[TD]9.19%[/TD]
[TD]6.91%[/TD]
[TD]381[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2013[/TD]
[TD]WSN[/TD]
[TD]2.78[/TD]
[TD]3.31[/TD]
[TD]19.68%[/TD]
[TD]21.15%[/TD]
[TD]7.08%[/TD]
[TD]6.38%[/TD]
[TD]2795[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2012[/TD]
[TD]WSN[/TD]
[TD]2.6[/TD]
[TD]2.69[/TD]
[TD]20.88%[/TD]
[TD]21.80%[/TD]
[TD]8.02%[/TD]
[TD]8.13%[/TD]
[TD]1547[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2012[/TD]
[TD]OAK[/TD]
[TD]2.15[/TD]
[TD]2.75[/TD]
[TD]17.54%[/TD]
[TD]19.32%[/TD]
[TD]8.16%[/TD]
[TD]7.04%[/TD]
[TD]2720[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2011[/TD]
[TD]OAK[/TD]
[TD]2.13[/TD]
[TD]2.67[/TD]
[TD]18.46%[/TD]
[TD]20.18%[/TD]
[TD]8.67%[/TD]
[TD]7.51%[/TD]
[TD]4811[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3yr[/TD]
[TD]TOT[/TD]
[TD]2.31[/TD]
[TD]2.84[/TD]
[TD]18.79%[/TD]
[TD]20.45%[/TD]
[TD]8.13%[/TD]
[TD]7.20%[/TD]
[TD]12254[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

Over the last three years, the other 12 catchers have a 23% better strikeout walk ratio, a strikeout rate that is 9% better and a walk rate that is 11% lower.

Every year over the last three and on every team, pitchers who happen to be throwing to Suzuki strike out fewer batters and walk more batters. Small sample size? It is over 12000 batters. Maybe he has had teammates who are very good catchers? It was 12 different guys on two different teams.

The Twins needed a backup catcher. The free agent and trade market for catchers dried up quickly and only the catchers with poor framing numbers remained. Suzuki appears to be the best of what was left. Signing a veteran catcher to start in 40-50 games seemed a good move. Before spring training, Ryan has said he expects him to start. It seems the plan all along was to seek a starter. If that is the case, is Suzuki the right guy?


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