MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Twins catcher is having an All-Star caliber season, leads the team in batting average, and is in the thick of the race for the American League batting title.
Yes, Kurt Suzuki has stepped in to Joe Mauer’s old job quite nicely.
“I think he and Joe are actually really alike,” pitcher Kyle Gibson said. “They’re both really cerebral.”
When asked how Mauer and Suzuki are different, Gibson took a long pause.
“Ah, that’s a good question,” he said.
Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?
When the Twins signed Suzuki this offseason, they became his third team since August. Hardly a splashy move.
The 30-year-old was brought in mainly to hold down the job until Josmil Pinto was ready to take it over.
Instead, he is having a career year. His .321 batting average leads the Twins and is sixth in the American League. He leads all AL catchers in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS, is second in hits and doubles, third in RBIs, and fourth in WAR. And he’s the hardest player in baseball to strike out — his 18 K’s the fewest among all players with enough at-bats to qualify in the batting race.
This from a guy who’d never hit above .280 in his career — hadn’t hit above .240 since 2010. He credits his time working with Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky with the improvement.
“We work so much every single day in the cage — talking, hitting,” Suzuki said. “He knows my swing probably better than I know my swing.”
By the numbers, Suzuki ought to be a lock to make his first All-Star Game at Target Field in three weeks. Go figure, a Twins catcher in the All-Star game. How original.
He’s currently fourth in the fan voting for AL catcher. Funny, because growing up in Hawaii, young Suzuki never even thought he’d be a baseball player.
“To tell you the truth, baseball wasn’t my first love, growing up,” he said. “It was soccer. I loved playing soccer and I’ve always loved it growing up and, obviously now baseball is my favorite sport, but growing up, I just played soccer, I loved it.”
He’s now loving this season with the Twins. He’s even loving the comparisons to Mauer that will, inevitably, always be there.
“Rightfully so,” Suzuki said. “I’ve got so much respect for Joe. So to be able to be on his team now, I’ll take the comparisons all day long if I get to suit up next to Joe. It’s all great.”