Last season the Oakland Athletics opened the season with sluggers such as Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Jack Cust and Eric Chavez. The sluggers were supposed to provide ample support for the young pitching staff. However, Holliday and Giambi got off to slow starts and Chavez played in only 8 games.
Holliday was later traded to St. Louis and Giambi was released upon hitting .193/.332/.364. The A’s offense didn’t have too many bright spots aside from their catcher, Kurt “Clutch” Suzuki.
A product of Cal State Fullerton, Suzuki hit .274/.313/.421 for Oakland last season. Aside from blasting 15 homers, Suzuki drove in a team leading 88 runs.
Suzuki also helped young starters like Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06 ERA) and Trevor Cahill (10-13, 4.63 ERA) in their transition into the big leagues. As a whole, the A’s finished with a team ERA of 4.26 (3rd in AL) and held opponents to a .265 BAA (7th in AL). And Suzuki, who led the pitching staff, deserves a lot if the credit for the A’s pitching success.
As the backbone of the defense, Suzuki will look to anchor a squad that has recently been upgraded with the likes of Kevin Kouzmanoff and Coco Crisp. Suzuki will also have the opportunity to work with veteran pitchers like Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer, provided that they stay healthy all season.
Although Suzuki is not a top-tier catcher, he’s really developing into his own. He has solid numbers against right-handed pitchers (.283/.317/.420, 9 HR, 63 RBI) and should be able to build upon his strong 2009 campaign. His only area of improvement should be improving against left-handed pitchers. Last season, Suzuki only managed to hit .250 against lefties.
Despite his “struggles” against lefties, Suzuki should come into his own this season. He’s entering just his third-full season in the big leagues, so I expect a career year for him.
.286 BA, 17 HR, 91 RBI