3. Kurt Suzuki (Minnesota Twins)
Sep 17, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) throws the ball to first base for an out in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
A look at last season:
Kurt Suzuki batted .288 during the ’14 season, and with that, he improved his average 66 points from the previous year. Granted, Suzuki went from 281 plate appearances in ’13 to 503 last season, but his numbers from one season ago showed what type of player he can become.
To go with that near .290 BA, Suzuki compiled a .345 on-base percentage and .383 slugging percentage. Also in ’14, the Twins’ catcher hit just three home runs, but to offset the lack of power, Suzuki did have 61 RBIs and 34 doubles on a team which finished last in the AL Central.
In 1,017.2 innings caught (119 games) last season, Suzuki had a .995 fielding percentage with just four errors in 780 chances. For his career, Suzuki has 43 errors in eight seasons (923 games).
Aug 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) catches Oakland Athletics outfielder Jonny Gomes (not pictured) fly ball behind home plate in the eighth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
2015 Baseball Prospectus Projections:
The projections for Suzuki are lower than what he achieved last season, with BP projecting the catcher to have 435 plate appearances, where the right-handed batter will have a .256 BA with a .311 OBP and .372 SLG.
The publication also projects seven home runs from Suzuki in ’15, which would be a career-best, along with 22 doubles and 42 RBIs. His walk numbers are said to be lower in ’15 as well at 28, compared to 34 from last season.
Suzuki could be the most intriguing catcher in the division for the single reason of which player will he be? Will Suzuki be the player who batted .288 in ’14, or will he be the catcher who bats .256?
If Suzuki can stay in the high .280s with his average, he could prove to be a very valuable asset for a Twins team who have struggled in recent memory.
They said it:
In an 1500 ESPN article on Feb. 25, Suzuki was quoted by 1500 ESPN writer Derek Wetmore about his career-best season and if he can sustain those numbers:
"“I don’t see why not. I know there’s a lot of people say, ‘Oh, he had a lot of luck,’ or whatever. I don’t pay too much attention to that stuff. I think that this is who I am, you know? That’s the player I was last year and that’s who I plan on being again this year.”"
Next: No. 2: Yan Gomes