Friday, March 4, 2011
30 A's in 30 Days: Kurt Suzuki
Acquired: Drafted in second round (2004).
Contract: Signed through 2013 (with club option for 2014).
Position: Starting catcher; burgeoning cause for concern?
2011 Projected BA/OBP/SLG: .266/.329/.398
2010 Season: Suzuki collected more than 45% of his 544 plate appearances in the three-hole of the batting order. His .294 OBP and .294 SLG as Oakland's number three hitter was an indictment of both our nonexistent offense and the lengthening of Suzuki's swing, attempting to play a power game that ill suits him. Approaching his chronological prime, Suzuki finished with career-lows in all three slash categories (.242/.303/.366) -- including a god-awful August (103 PAs, .185/.252/.239).
2011 Over/Under: The above projection isn't too far off of Suzuki's career numbers. After an offseason in which the A's brought in a handful of serviceable -- if not superstar -- bodies to fill out the top of the order, moving Suzuki down toward the bottom half of the batting order should alleviate some of the pressure for him to be a run-producer. I'll take the slight OVER on that projection -- with an increase in walks and doubles -- as Suzuki further establishes himself as my all-time second-favorite Hawaiian athlete. (Sorry, Kurt, but you'll never overtake Ricky.)
By the Numbers: 1, 1, 2 -- Suzuki's American League ranking for games started at catcher in each season from 2008-2010. He missed more than three weeks with a rib cage injury last year and still finished just two starts behind the league leader. Is he the most durable ballplayer to wear the number eight since Cal Ripken retired? I don't know, but it sure sounds like the lede of a 500-word puff piece on MLB.com someday, no?
Surefire 2011 Prediction: In recent years, it hasn't been that difficult to come up with a prediction for any A's starting catcher. No matter who he is, he'll get WAY too much credit for the success of the pitching staff. So, let's establish another over/under -- how soon will the media write its annual "Without Suzuki, A's Rotation Would Wallow in Mediocrity" piece? MLB.com -- March 15; San Francisco Chronicle -- May 15; Sports Illustrated -- July 15.
Old School Rap Track for the Season: Hawaiian Sophie, Jaz featuring Jay-Z