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Kurt Suzuki - Signed to be the starter?

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Mike Berardino reported yesterday that Terry Ryan expected Kurt Suzuki to start at catcher. At the time of the signing, it appeared that Suzuki was signed to gibe 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 shown to be a poor pitch framer, Doumit and Buck are at the bottom.

Pitch Framing Data

Does it matter that Suzuki is a poor at framing pitches? Perhaps he makes it up 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?

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

Over 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 that are very good catchers? It was 12 different guys on two different teams.

The Twins needed a back up 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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  1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    Excellent analysis, as usual. I'm not excited about seeing Suzuki as the starter, but hopefully Pinto will be dynamic at AAA and force his way into the starting lineup.
  2. stringer bell's Avatar
    I'd certainly like to see Pinto start the season as the Twins regular catcher, but I won't be overly concerned if Suzuki starts the season getting most of the starts. Pinto has a bit of work to do, having played just a month in Rochester. I hope he starts the season with the Twins, but if he doesn't, good play at Rochester will get him back to Minnesota soon enough.

    It's a long season, first of all, and secondly, everyone will get a chance to play and if Pinto is better, I trust he'll get plenty of work.
  3. johnnydakota's Avatar
    Would be nice to have other options in the wings , other then Herrmann and Fryer.
    By signing Garza , that would make Correia avalible to trade ,and coming off Kevins career year
    this is the time to trade him. 2 catcher who come to mind are of course Johnny Monnel and Stassi from Huston. Im sure there are others who would fit the bill, but the Idea is to have more then Plan A and hope
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