The A’s 2011 season can be described with probably just one word: inconsistent. Oakland’s offense, while posting some lofty numbers in the second-half, got off to a rough start and ultimately wasted a first-half of stellar A’s pitching. Oakland’s young arms pitched well during the first-half, despite losing both Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson for the entire season.
Oakland had some lofty expectations to meet heading into the season, but the team’s early struggles and injuries derailed the team’s playoff hopes. The Athletics had several players experience a free fall of sorts, en route to subpar 2011 performances. One of those players was catcher Kurt Suzuki.
Suzuki, 28, is largely seen as one of the leaders in Oakland’s clubhouse. While that may be true, Suzuki’s 2011 season wasn’t very aspiring. Oakland’s catcher handled the pitching staff well, but the team isn’t paying him just to play defense.
The A’s backstop hit 14 homers this season, second-most on the team, but he also drove in just 44 runs. Last year, Suzuki managed to drive in 71 runs. Under Bob Geren, the A’s used Suzuki as a middle of the order type guy, especially after his strong ’09 season. During the ’09 season, Suzuki hit 15 HR and drove in 88 runs. Since then, however, Suzuki hasn’t been able to replicate that type of success.
He hit a paltry .237/.301/.385 this year, down from his 2010 .242/.303/.366 slash line. Should these numbers worry A’s fans? Well, probably not.
After that pretty solid ’09 campaign, a lot of people, including myself, regarded Suzuki as the next best thing to Minnesota’s Joe Mauer. After a few subpar seasons, however, Suzuki, in my mind, at least, is a pretty average major league player. So, my expectations going into 2012 will probably be very low compared to previous seasons.
Don’t get me wrong, Suzuki is still a very valuable player for Oakland. His handling of the young pitching staff makes him almost irreplaceable—until a guy like Max Stassi comes along—and he does have some decent power for his position. He also starts a lot behind the plate for the A’s. This year, Suzuki appeared in 129 games as the A’s catcher.
Bottom line, Suzuki remains an integral part of Oakland’s team, but expectations regarding Suzuki’s offensive contributions next season shouldn’t be extreme. Expect a similar, but hopefully slightly better, numbers next year.
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