P2Daily: Jack Suwinski Showing He Belongs Despite Bad Luck

When the Pirates sent Jack Suwinski to the minors this spring, the initial thought was that he wasn’t going to be one of the first call-ups should the major league team need an outfielder.

Fast forward to now, and Suwinski leads all NL rookies in home runs after his game-tying three-run shot against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.

It hasn’t been all pretty. Despite the five home runs, Suwinski is currently batting below the Mendoza line with a .188 average, and has struck out 26.7% of his plate appearances.

Despite that, he hasn’t looked completely out of place, and depending on how much you buy into analytics, there is actually a lot there that makes a strong case for a huge turnaround.

While the exit velocity is a tad below major league average (86.7, 88.4 ML average), it’s ground balls weighing that down. His average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives is 94.6.

Two other things that Suwinski excels in is chase rate, and barrel percentage. He chases pitches only 23.5% of the time, with the major league average being 28.3%. He also barrel ups balls 10.9% of the time, which is three-points higher than the average.

A ‘barrel’ is the perfect combination of launch angle and exit velocity.

One last number is his average of balls put in play, which for Suwinski is .192. Typically the average BABIP is around .300. For a bigger perspective, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros have the worst team BABIP at .261, 69-points higher than Suwinski’s total.

If we just adjust the math to get Suwinski around the lowest teams mark (19 hits), that bumps Suwinski’s average to .238, which would be the fifth best mark on the Pirates for players with at least 20 games played.

We saw the Pirates get more aggressive with the younger players, and Wednesday’s victory was sparked by mostly them. The best part about Suwinski’s situation is that they have stuck with him to allow him time to learn and grow as a major league player.

We’ll have to wait and see if the numbers play to a jump, which would be impressive since even looking past his average, he’s showing he can be a player that sticks on this roster the rest of the season.

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redwards60

Suwinski has exceeded my expectations for him in Pittsburgh, despite the obvious struggles. He has shown he belongs and he’s improving. Much rather see him play and get more opportunities to improve more, than see proven subpar major league veterans like VanMeter, Marisnick, etc.

RAS TN

He needs to play every day be it at the major league level or at AAA. All projections are just that, how about just showing it in the field, and putting the projections where they need to be…

NMR

The StatCast x-stats are made for this stuff, being able to better tease out true “luck” from actual performance.

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/leaderboard/expected_statistics?type=batter&year=2022&position=&team=134&min=50

(guess we can’t post screenshots on this comment platform?)

Maybe hasn’t quite earned that .238 average Anthony calc’d, but that was a pretty damn good estimate. Luck aside, he’s hitting just shy of an average big league bat. Impressive.

Rest of Season projections also pointing toward a slightly above average stick, I think we’ll all buy that!

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR
emjayinTN

An excellent read, and this kid definitely needs to stay right where he is at – with the Pirates. That also applies to Castro, Mitchell, and Contreras.

NMR

(check out KeBryan while you’re at it…)

TNBucs

I feel like Hayes has been a bit underappreciated since signing the extension as he’s clearly been our best player. Early return on that investment is excellent!

NMR

May wasn’t kind to him after a blistering April, and I kind of think he’ll always be playing in the shadow of that absurd rookie performance in a lot of fans eyes, but I was surprised and heartened to see that the underlying batted ball stuff shows way more power than the top-line stats. Here’s to seeing it come to fruition!

Catch_22

Run him and Cal on the corners. I think Wilbur had the idea of Gamel and Chavis platooning at 1b and dumping Yosh, which makes perfect sense. Build-up Gamel’s trade value, get what you can for him and then call up Martin.

You guys are right – this is the fun part of the rebuild.

Now, if they can get Cruz going, it’s going to be real fun.

Anyone else notice how left heavy this lineup is going to be?

Wilbur Miller

The LH tilt is a bit worrisome, and the guys still in AAA — Cruz, Martin, Bae, Swaggerty, Smith-Njigba — are ALL LH. Even Marcano and Park are LH. Not to mention Sabol, Fraizer, and Scott. All of which gives Chavis and Castillo more value than you’d think. Thankfully, probably the two best hitting prospects after Cruz are RH — Davis and Peguero.

Catch_22

I’m ok with being LH heavy, especially with PNC as the home venue. But, like you said, guys like Castillo, Chavis, etc will be vital short side platoon mates and bench pieces. If your A-lineup has 6 lefties and Hayes, Davis and Peguero, I’m feeling good about it

Wilbur Miller

It’s possible some of these guys will hit LHPs. Cruz has a big reverse platoon split this year, although it’s mainly because he’s been awful against RHPs. He had no split last year. Bae has a slight reverse split this year. Martin is having trouble with LHPs this year. He did not last year. Mitchell couldn’t hit LHPs at all in 2021 but he’s destroyed them this year. CSN had a small split last year, a very big one this year. Suwinski hardly played in AA this year. Last year he had a sizeable split.

So I guess it’s a mixed bag, but MLB lefties are a different kettle of fish. We’re not going to know how this goes until these guys have been in the bigs a while.

PiratePrimate

That swing he put on that tailing, 97mph fastball is proof enough that he deserves the chance to succeed or fail. That swing yesterday gives him another 100+ AB’s to see what he can do. Five HR’s in 80 AB’s? Yeah, I believe it. I don’t care what his average is after 80 AB’s. The K rate is not bad. The swing says he’s a lot better than .180 and the HR’s on a team starved for power says he’s in the lineup..

Wilbur Miller

Sort of OT, but Anthony Alford is off to Korea. That sure went well.

But back to Jack . . . .

mikeschalke

Just keep him away from PNC

Wilbur Miller

Jack, otoh — The moment I watched his dinger yesterday I thought he’s going to like the RF stands at PNC.

JasonR33

One wonders if there is a room on Federal Street wallpapered with busted lottery tickets like this…

AdministrativeSky236

Really well done analysis here. I think we can all agree that if he was hitting .238 with his power output and the corresponding increase in obp and slg then his slash would be very acceptable for a guy jumping up from AA. Still not sure why scouting outlets had his speed and defense rankings so low as he looks to be average-slightly above average for both based on the eye test and his sprint speed reflects being above average

TNBucs

Surely this will change–I have plenty of confidence in Reynolds, but right now the fWAR for our current OF is 0.2 for Suwinski, 0.1 for Reynolds, and…0.1 for Mitchell. Gamel leads all OF with 0.6 fWAR. Get Reynolds going and have some of Suwinski’s bad luck even out and we’ll have a respectable OF.

TNBucs

I wondered how his exit velocity on line drives and fly balls compared to others and based on the Statcast leaderboard he’d rank 49th and higher than any other Pirate if he qualified:

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/leaderboard/statcast?type=batter&year=2022&position=&team=&min=q&sort=7&sortDir=desc

Last edited 1 month ago by TNBucs
TNBucs

If you drop the minimum BBE to 50 to include Suwinski, then he is the second highest Pirate behind Vogelbach. In this same grouping, he ranks 47th in all of MLB and 2nd (again to Vogelbach) in barrel percentage:

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/leaderboard/statcast?type=batter&year=2022&position=&team=&min=50&sort=17&sortDir=desc

Very impressive for a guy making the jump from AA. Just keep playing him.

Last edited 1 month ago by TNBucs
skliesen

There’s definitely something there to like. Although nothing about him wows me, nothing about him makes me cringe either. He’s definitely someone who should be playing regularly to see if he can become something more that a 4th OF type on a contending Pirates team.

PiratePrimate

If that swing doesn’t wow you, then you’ve been watching the Cole Tuckers of the world much too long. But on the Pirates that’s to be expected. His swing and power are why he made the jumb from AA

1979andCounting

Let’s be careful before giving BC credit for calling Jack up because of his swing and power…….as I recall, he was in Akron for a Toona game when Reynolds and Tucker failed a virus test, and Alford had already been cut. So being an hour away, Jack got the call to join the team that day in Pittsburgh. And the rest is history…….good story if he sticks. I’m just not so quick to give BC much credit, just an unusual circumstance.

Last edited 1 month ago by 1979andCounting
PiratePrimate

? He was hitting .350 with a 1.107 OPS and you think it was happenstance that they brought him up in an emergency?

NMR

relax

tedwins

Yup, but a 4th OFer, cheap from system, is huge win, 🤞, allows us to spend the residual on FA pitching, if we ever do that, small change matters, well for our payroll it is key👍

Last edited 1 month ago by tedwins
Stephen B

Considering this vintage Pirate team has cornered the market on starting guys who profile as no better than 5th outfielders, and playing backup infielders as 4th outfielders, having a legitimate 4th outfielder is an upgrade in every sense.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stephen B
Born4rf

We like Jack and we like this article Anthony. Suwing-sky needs to keep barreling and don’t listen to coaches tell him to level out his line drives. Remember when all Castro hit were home runs?

zebug

He just doesn’t LOOK out of place. Seems real comfortable on the big stage. Being a fellow ****ski makes me biased but you can’t keep a good *****ski down  😎 

jon6er

Mlodzin..ski, Gor..ski, Suwin..ski, Dombrow..ski, lol. Well represented. Let’s not forget but Nutting owns a ski resort😏

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

*owned 😉 lol

jon6er

I don’t how they are at cross country ‘ski..ing’ but they are all pretty decent baseball players, lol.

tedwins

Good article, i like how you conservatively adjusted his avg, , Anthony, thoughtful. Nice first impression, for sure, by Jack👍

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