He was nickamed "Kurt Klutch" by his college teammates at Cal State Fullerton. Most A's fans have christened him with the nickname "Hawaiian Punch" for his strong play in the big leagues. However, I simply call him "the best defensive catcher in the American League".
Of course. I'm talking about A's catcher Kurt Suzuki .
Drafted in 2004 out of Cal State Fullerton, Suzuki had quite the college career. In 2004, Suzuki was named an All-American by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He also won the Johnny Bench Award, which named him the country's top collegiate catcher and was honored with the first ever Brooks Wallace Award, which is given to the college baseball player of the year. Suzuki's Cal State Fullerton Titans also won the College World Series thanks to an RBI single by him in the 7th inning of the championship game. He was drafted by the A's in the second round of the 2004 draft and moved up through the system rather quickly making his big league debut in mid-2007.
Now, in his third big league season it seems as if most have forgotten about how good of a player Kurt Suzuki actually is.
While Suzuki surely doesn't compare much to Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer , he has quietly made his impression on the league. For the past two seasons, Suzuki has been second in the league each season at throwing out baserunners and for all those stat geeks like myself out there that love sabremetrics, Suzuki's catcher's era (otherwise known as CERA) has been second best among AL Catchers as well. Considering the pitching staffs that Suzuki has had to work with the past two seasons, this is remarkable.
Of course, in the age of fantasy baseball, no one cares about defensive stats, even for a position as important as catcher Looking at the current update for all-star voting this is made clear. Suzuki isn't even in the top five in votes.
Those 5 spots belong to Mauer, Jason Varitek , Jorge Posada , Jarrod Saltalamachhia, and Victor Martinez .
However, Suzuki isn't all that bad offensively either. Among all American League starting catchers (including those who don't have the qualified number of at bats), Suzuki is 1st in doubles (18), 1st in stolen bases (3), 5th in batting average (.277) and 6th in RBI (28).
And even though baseball fans haven't voted for Suzuki to make the All-Star game, the decision of him getting in will rest with Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. And while many in Oakland, including the A's team website, have been boasting offensive stars Matt Holliday and Adam Kennedy among the A's to be selected, there is a general feeling in the A's clubhouse is that Suzuki will get in instead.
With only Mauer and Martinez being above the rest of the AL catchers, the American League will carry three catchers in the midsummer classic and Suzuki likely could be the third catcher selected. If Suzuki is selected, it will be the first time an A's position player was chosen for the All-Star game since former A's catcher, Ramon Hernandez , made it in 2003. The chance of the A's having more than one representative is unlikely given their record and position in the standings.