Kurt Suzuki’s renaissance, and his value to Atlanta

At 34-year old years old, catcher Kurt Suzuki has had a bit a surprising renaissance at the plate.  The veteran’s renaissance at the plate has been a big surprise that’s helped the Braves offense dominant through the first two plus months of the season as he’s already been the fifth most valuable position player on the roster.

Through 173 plate appearances, Suzuki has hit  .273/.335/.474 while earning a wRC+ of 118; and he’s done this while having a below average BABIP of .263. What’s surprising is that we could see those numbers improve because of that low BABIP. Suzuki’s hard hit and line drive rates are within career norms — which is surprising considering his age — so that indicates he’s been unlucky with the balls he’s put into play.  Especially since he hasn’t been particularly pull heavy this season.

A quick look at the 34-year old’s spray charts would show that he’s done a good job of spreading the ball around the field.

suzuki spray chart

That means is BABIP should regress more to his career average, which will lead to more offensive success. Which is exactly what Atlanta would like because it would continue to lengthen the depth of its line-up.

Suzuki’s strikeout rate is also unsustainably low as it’s currently sitting at a career low of 9.8% despite a swinging at pitches outside 36.1% of pitches outside of the zone. At the same time as he’s swinging at more pitches outside of the zone, he’s also swinging at more pitches inside of it too…while his contact rates stay stable. It’s unlikely that the veteran’s strikeout rate is going to stay so low when he’s swinging at more pitches than he has in the past.

Even if he starts striking out more, Suzuki will still continue to be a valuable offensive piece for the Braves as they continue to chase the Washington Nationals in the NL East…especially as his BABIP regresses more towards his career norm.