In the season’s first 13 games, Oakland A’s catcher, Kurt Suzuki has made it to the batter’s box 45 times. In those 45 trips, Suzuki has collected a total of nine hits and has driven in four runs. His line of .200/.294/.333 is not what most expected to see from a guy who last year hit 15 homers and drove in a team leading 88 runs. It’s still mid-April, and Suzuki has more than enough time to raise his offensive numbers, but hitting in the fifth spot may not be the right spot for Suzuki. I see him hitting in the third spot, honestly. Last season, Suzuki bounced around in the lineup, but this season A’s manager, Bob Geren seems to think Suzuki is best fit for the fifth-spot, right behind 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff.
As I’ve said all spring, I think the A’s will have trouble playing consistently well on offense and that guys like Suzuki will have to step up and provide most of the production. After driving in a team leading 88 runs last year, Suzuki was clearly Oakland’s best offensive player. This year, however, Suzuki is swinging at certain pitches he normally wouldn’t. The A’s are currently fourth in the AL in runs scored with 62, but are also eighth in batting average (.252) and 12th in slugging (.362). After a hot-start offensively, the A’s have gradually begun to cool off. The A’s best hitters have been Ryan Sweeney (.320, 9 RBI’s), Daric Barton (.310/.474/.405) and Cliff Pennington (.262, 2 HR, 10 RBIs).
The A’s pitching staff, however, really benefits from Suzuki, who rarely sees time off. Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer have both been solid so far, especially when you consider that both veterans missed the entire 2009 season due to injury. With the A’s pitching staff dominating right now (2.90 ERA), Kurt Suzuki and the rest of the offense will have enough time to make proper adjustments at the plate.
Kurt Suzuki will get better as the season progresses, and so will the A’s. This young team is full of promise and has the arms to compete in the American League West.