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Article: Kurt Suzuki - Signed to be the starter?

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#1 jorgenswest

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 12:46 PM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...-be-the-starter

#2 Chance

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 01:06 PM

I still believe Suzuki was the best option. Why? I would say gut feeling. I have always been a fan of his. Every time the Twins played Oakland I would take notice of Kurt. At the plate and behind the plate. I can't name anything in particular, but It always left me thinking, "this guy is a good player."

I also believe that, despite what Ryan has said, Pinto will play himself into the majority of starts. Maybe Kurt will click with a particular pitcher (Butera, Pavano) and catch all those games. I just don't see Pinto regressing like Parmelee did following his September showing. This is all gut feelings, I could be completely wrong, but the BP article projected using stats and that seemed to be nonsense. Maybe my gut feeling is more reliable? Time will tell.

#3 UCLA_YANKEE_COLA

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 01:44 PM

Gut feelings are obviously less reliable than statistics. That's why we have statistics. I do agree that Pinto will likely earn his time and will "steal" the job but these kinds of moves (assuming Suzuki really does get the job) is what makes it hard to be a Twins fan sometimes. He can't hit and all signs point to him not being a good defender (truthfully, I've seen him play probably less than 30 games in my life, tough to judge defense in that sss). At least Butera had a notable tool.

#4 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 01:48 PM

John Buck was the worst pitch framer in the MLB and comparable to Doumit at the plate. Doumit didn't want to catch this year either. Suzuki was the best choice on the market and just above Arencipibia. That's unless you wanted Saltalamacchia or McCann for their bigger contracts.

#5 Linus

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 01:51 PM

I assumed all along he was signed to be a starter. I have been generally skeptical of framing statistics but the numbers in the article seem meaningful.

Generally speaking, I think most TD posters are getting ahead of themselves when it comes to prospects making their big league debuts. My guess is that Pinto (along with Sano, Hicks, Meyer, Gibson) all start at Rochester and remain there for a couple of months minimum or until they prove they can adequately handle themselves at the AAA level.

I also think this is the correct way to handle this situation - if Pinto (or any of the others) can't handle AAA, there is no point in pushing them to the majors. Losing a year of development (see Hicks, Aaron) is a far bigger price to pay than the benefit of a couple extra months in the bigs.

#6 nicksaviking

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 02:10 PM

I also don't put much stock into framing stats as they make the assumption that an umpire doesn't already have a preconcieved notion of the pitchers strike zone tendancies. This however I can buy. A breakdown of K% and BB% compared to his teamates catching the same pitchers is persuasive. The only thing it doesn't account for is possiblity of pitchers using (or not using) Suzuki as their personal catcher, ala Scott Erickson and Junior Ortiz, Francisco Liriano and Drew Butera. However sub-par pitchers (those that would make inflate/deflate Suzukis BB and K numbers) don't generally get personal catchers.

#7 Kwak

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 03:25 PM

There were reasons he signed with the Twins and for a small (MLB) salary. The starter? we shouldn't be surprised given the contract renewals, the over-belief in AAA experience, and an incentive to delay a player's promotion date.

#8 Linus

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 03:53 PM

I don't think it is fair to say the Twins can be accused of basing any of their promotion decisions on service time. The most recent examples would be Hicks and Arcia who, if anything, were pushed to the majors.

#9 jay

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 03:53 PM

Great job of putting the debate about framing and the impact it has into real, concrete numbers with a huge sample size.

I think Suzuki and Fryer could start the year on the MLB roster unless Pinto shows a lot in the spring. Keeping him in Rochester for a month or three wouldn't be the worst idea ever.

#10 USNMCPO

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 04:01 PM

I have nothing to back this up but I am wondering if something has changed. Perhaps the Twins expected Pinto to be the starter and Suzuki to back him up. Then either through performance or some unknown insider information has made the Twins believe that Pinto is not ready yet to be a starter.

#11 jokin

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 04:05 PM

I don't think it is fair to say the Twins can be accused of basing any of their promotion decisions on service time. The most recent examples would be Hicks and Arcia who, if anything, were pushed to the majors.


Hicks, yes, but only after the Twins decimated their OF in the offseason. Arcia was promoted based on merit and need, he kicked the doors in to get here. Gibson certainly could have been moved up in May, especially after 2 outstanding AAA starts and a near no-hitter, right when many members of the rotation were in varying states of distress, injury or collapse (Worley, Pelfrey, Diamond, Deduno).

#12 old nurse

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 04:11 PM

From a Washington Post article

In eight career starts with Ramos catching before this year, Strasburg punched up a 1.64 ERA in 44 innings with 39 strikeouts, 34 hits allowed and three walks. After he arrived last season, Suzuki caught Strasburg five times. The results: 26 innings, a 4.50 ERA, 27 strikeouts, 22 hits allowed and 13 walks.

#13 jokin

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 04:12 PM

I have nothing to back this up but I am wondering if something has changed. Perhaps the Twins expected Pinto to be the starter and Suzuki to back him up. Then either through performance or some unknown insider information has made the Twins believe that Pinto is not ready yet to be a starter.



Pinto was shut down in Winter Leagues due to a sore shoulder and a .179 BA, and by the end of December, LEN 3 was whispering that Pinto may start out in AAA, right as Terry Ryan was singing Eric Fryer's praises. It isn't hard to do the math, with all the money they are shelling out to Suzuki and Gardy's proclivities towards using veterans, Suzuki's going to play a ton until Pinto proves he's ready to supplant him.

#14 jokin

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 04:17 PM

From a Washington Post article

In eight career starts with Ramos catching before this year, Strasburg punched up a 1.64 ERA in 44 innings with 39 strikeouts, 34 hits allowed and three walks. After he arrived last season, Suzuki caught Strasburg five times. The results: 26 innings, a 4.50 ERA, 27 strikeouts, 22 hits allowed and 13 walks.


Let's do apples and apples, how did Ramos do catching Strasburg, in 2013?

#15 old nurse

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 04:49 PM

2012 statistics comparing Strasburg pitching to both Ramos and Suzuki more than prove the point. The article was written in May of 2013 and would have suffered from the complaint of small sample size

In three starts with Ramos behind the plate this year, Strasburg has a 1.80 ERA over 20 innings with 18 strikeouts, 13 hits allowed and two walks. In three starts throwing to Suzuki, Strasburg has a 5.19 ERA over 17 1/3 innings with 19 strikeouts, 10 walks and 20 hits allowed. (Strasburg also threw to Jhonatan Solano once, allowing three earned runs in seven innings.)

Edited by old nurse, 28 January 2014 - 04:52 PM.


#16 jokin

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 04:54 PM

2012 statistics not valid enough?

In three starts with Ramos behind the plate this year, Strasburg has a 1.80 ERA over 20 innings with 18 strikeouts, 13 hits allowed and two walks. In three starts throwing to Suzuki, Strasburg has a 5.19 ERA over 17 1/3 innings with 19 strikeouts, 10 walks and 20 hits allowed. (Strasburg also threw to Jhonatan Solano once, allowing three earned runs in seven innings.)


Don't we have some overweight, straight-ball-throwing relief pitcher that might be of interest to the Nats for this guy I'm not too familiar with, whatzzhizzname? Ramos?

#17 Lefty

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 05:04 PM

I think the Twins just know that Suzuki knows how to get pitchers to pitch to contact, we all know the philosophy!

I'd rather have Suzuki back there than any of our other current options.

#18 S.

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 05:09 PM

I must be missing something, but what's the point of these 3 game comparisons of Ramos and Suzuki? You can't honestly think comparing 3 games caught for two catchers can give you any sort of worthwhile statistics

Edit: was missing something: other one was 8 games and 5 games. Still way too small a sample with way too many variables to do an actual comparison though. Different seasons, different opponents, different parks, etc. You're gonna need a lot more games before those comparisons mean anything at all in my opinion.

Edited by S., 28 January 2014 - 05:16 PM.


#19 Lefty

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 05:12 PM

I agree with you S. Three games against the Astros vs. 3 games against the Yankees/Red Sox/Rangers are two completely different things.

#20 birdwatcher

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 05:26 PM

I'm wondering if they're just trying to keep the pressure off of Pinto and in reality expect him to win the job this spring.

#21 old nurse

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 07:58 PM

I must be missing something, but what's the point of these 3 game comparisons of Ramos and Suzuki? You can't honestly think comparing 3 games caught for two catchers can give you any sort of worthwhile statistics

Edit: was missing something: other one was 8 games and 5 games. Still way too small a sample with way too many variables to do an actual comparison though. Different seasons, different opponents, different parks, etc. You're gonna need a lot more games before those comparisons mean anything at all in my opinion.


By your argument the statistics that are the premise of the article would be eroneous as there would never be a large enough sample size to suit anyone.

#22 old nurse

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 08:01 PM

Don't we have some overweight, straight-ball-throwing relief pitcher that might be of interest to the Nats for this guy I'm not too familiar with, whatzzhizzname? Ramos?


You and some guy named Smith have about the same knowledge of Ramos

#23 jay

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 10:36 PM

I'm wondering if they're just trying to keep the pressure off of Pinto and in reality expect him to win the job this spring.


After the Hicks debacle, that'd probably be alright.

#24 Shane Wahl

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 11:56 PM

Suzuki literally being the opening day starter is not a big deal . . . because isn't it the White Sox? Do they even have a RH starter???? Pinto can potentially be waiting a bit in AAA. Suzuki getting more than 200 PAs in 2014 . . . yeah, that's bad.

#25 S.

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 11:57 AM

By your argument the statistics that are the premise of the article would be eroneous as there would never be a large enough sample size to suit anyone.

The article is 3 years worth of stats compared ("[COLOR=#3E3E3E]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")[/COLOR]. You were comparing 3 games vs 3 games and 5 games vs 8 games. If you want to draw conclusions from ~2-5% of a season, that's fine, I just don't agree with it. Much the same as I wouldn't read too much into a comparison of 10-30 PAs.

#26 cmathewson

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:13 PM

Gut feelings are obviously less reliable than statistics. That's why we have statistics. I do agree that Pinto will likely earn his time and will "steal" the job but these kinds of moves (assuming Suzuki really does get the job) is what makes it hard to be a Twins fan sometimes. He can't hit and all signs point to him not being a good defender (truthfully, I've seen him play probably less than 30 games in my life, tough to judge defense in that sss). At least Butera had a notable tool.


The most important thing a catcher can do is manage a pitching staff. The results in Oakland speak for themselves, especially considering the churn they have in that rotation. That's what Suzuki brings. It's also Pinto's weakness. So they complement each other well. And Suzuki hits waaaay better than Drew ever has. Drew's career OPS is below .500. Suzuki's is .685.
"If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

#27 old nurse

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 03:04 PM

The article is 3 years worth of stats compared ("[COLOR=#3E3E3E]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")[/COLOR]. You were comparing 3 games vs 3 games and 5 games vs 8 games. If you want to draw conclusions from ~2-5% of a season, that's fine, I just don't agree with it. Much the same as I wouldn't read too much into a comparison of 10-30 PAs.


In BB% I am not as worried about. The question I would ask does Suzuki call for a pitcher to make a tough pitch. If so, the BB % will go up. SO may not go up, but weakly hit ball % would.
The % well hit balls would have been a good comparison, but that statistical comparison was not run. If you think it doesn't make a difference, Maddux is in the HOF with a below average k/9, but because batters couldn't make good contact he got outs. On the other hand, there are a few pitchers out of baseball right now because hitters could make good contact.

In those three seasons, how many times was "other" catching the same pitcher as Suzuki against the same team. Does each pitcher on the team have the exact same K% as the other pitchers on the staff? No. Neither Oakland nor Washington would have had a static staff of pitchers. There is no proof even with the statistics that they were catching the same types of pitchers.
Now, which catcher got to catch the 4/5 starter or the replacement pitcher for the injured starter more versus the 1/2 starter? If it is skewed one way or the other, the SO % for the catcher will be different. There are so many variables unaccounted for that would change the percentages.
Lastly there is the significance in the difference in K% between Suzuki and "other" In 3 years the pitchers thrown to Suzuki had a K % of 18.79% versus 20.45. For every 60 batters "other" got one more strikeout. In making an assumption of league average WHIP and double plays are maintained it is not a strikeout per game unless it is a 14 inning game.

Edited by old nurse, 29 January 2014 - 03:08 PM.


#28 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 03:29 PM

Baring injury or implosion of Pinto, I expect Suzuki to start about 60 games this season. I suspect he'll get opening day out of courtesy as well. I expect Pinto to "earn" the job. I don't see him being given the job.. especially given how Hicks and Parmelee handled that the last two seasons. He's going to have to look the part of a major leaguer. His resume to date says that he deserves the job. I don't have a problem making him earn it though.

#29 BigTrane

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 06:26 PM

Call me skeptical, but intrigued...

First, on the context side of things, don't forget Arencebia. At the time, it was a Buck vs. Arencebia vs. Suzuki vs. Doumit debate; in that pool, I'd still take Suzuki.

Second, I like your overall argument as you have a good sample size and it's centered on K/BB ratio, not on pitch framing- though you do toss that in there. Of all the advanced stats out there, pitch framing has to be one of the most debatable/ questionable, and personally don't find it all that persuasive.

However, finding such a large disparities between Suzuki and 'the other 12' is hard to accept at face value, so I'd like to encourage you to keep digging. Seems like you're on to something, but it sure feels like there must be more to the story that these stats aren't capturing or revealing.

Finally, my take on the Suzuki signing is that Pinto has promise behind the plate, but needs mentoring. Suzuki is noted for his game calling (do we have a good stat for that yet?) so that's where I see his value. I'd speculate that the door will be open to Pinto to prove whatever he can, but we're likely to see more Suziki starts in the first half of the season, and more Pinto starts in the second half- timetable determined by how he does at AAA.

That's just my speculation, but it does seem to fit the facts as we know them, and certainly seems like a reasonable approach.
Feel free to pile on about Suzuki.

#30 cmathewson

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 06:52 PM

Finally, my take on the Suzuki signing is that Pinto has promise behind the plate, but needs mentoring. Suzuki is noted for his game calling (do we have a good stat for that yet?) so that's where I see his value.


This. The best stat is staff FIP, which, admittedly is not a good measure if you're Mike Aviles catching the best staff in baseball. But over a 10 career with a staff full of pre-arbitration pitchers, it works for me in Suzuki's case.
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