With many factors working in his favor, Pirate outfielder Jack Suwinski could be in line for a big 2023 season
The Pittsburgh Pirates saw young outfielder Jack Suwinski make his debut last season. Suwinski was nearly a 2.0 fWAR player in less than 400 plate appearances and 110 games. His rookie season was overall decent, but the slugger could be in for a big 2023 based on his splits and other underlying numbers from 2022.
Suwiinski didn’t do terribly last year with the bat. He hit .202/.298/.411 with a .311 wOBA, and 100 wRC+. While he struck out in 30.6% of the 372 plate appearances he took, he also walked at a strong 11% rate. He also hit for some pop with 19 dingers and a .209 isolated slugging percentage. When everything was said and done, he was about league average in every measure.
But there are a few factors that will significantly help Suwinski next season. The first is that he’ll mostly face right-handed pitchers. With Connor Joe, the Pittsburgh Pirates can mitigate some of Suwinski’s struggles against same-handed pitching. The power-hitting outfielder hit for quality of .237/.330/.465 triple-slash with a 122 wRC+ vs. RHP, but when he faced a southpaw, he hit just .122/.225/.286 with a meager 47 wRC+. That’s a massive difference in production. He had very similar numbers to Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker when he faced a right-hander, but something more akin to Austin Hedges.
The next reason is he had a barrel rate of 12.2%, which was in the top 86th percentile last year. With the new shift rules, Suwinski can fully take advantage of his ability to make quality contact. The outfielder was shifted 71.2% of the time last year. He should be able to find grass more often next year, given his ability to hit the ball hard with a good launch angle and the lack of a full-on shift.
Suwinski could make major strides this season. With his ability to consistently make quality contact and a much more toned-down shift, batted balls should fall more often. Now that the Bucs have the ability to platoon him and take advantage of his ability to crush right-handed pitching, Suwinski will have a lot working in his favor next season.