Kurt Suzuki - Signed to be the starter?
by, 01-25-2014 at 04:07 PM (486 Views)
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?