Following an up-and-down rookie campaign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, outfielder Jack Suwinski must improve on the road this season
Looking ahead to the 2023 season, despite there being some known commodities, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield. As long as he is not traded, Bryan Reynolds will start in center field. Other than that there are plenty of question marks about outfield construction.
Now, what is not a question mark, is if Jack Suwinski will crack the team's Opening Day roster. Unless an injury or something absolutely unforeseen happens between now and March 30th, Suwinski, along with Andrew McCutchen (duh), are two other outfielders locked into an Opening Day roster spot. Connor Joe is a safe bet to be there as well.
What is not known is what role will Suwinski, along with other Pirate outfielders, play to complement Reynolds. Suwinski is coming off a rookie season in which he flashed plenty of power with 19 home runs and a .209 isolated slugging (ISO). However, his 30.6% strikeout rate, 100 wRC+, and 98 OPS+ still left something to be desired.
Due to his struggles against left-handed pitching it appears a safe bet that Suwinski will be a platoon bat in 2023. Suwinski hit just .122/.225/.286 with a wRC+ of 47 and an ISO of .163 against LHP last season.
If paired with McCutchen and/or Joe, Suwinski can be a fine platoon bat in the outfield. However, there is one area where he must take a big step forward in 2023. Suwinski must show drastic improvement away from PNC Park this season.
At PNC Park last season Suwinski hit for a strong .282/.373/.609 slash line with a 172 wRC+. He posted a .328 ISO at home, to go with a 25.9% strikeout rate and a walk rate of 11.9%. 16 of his 19 home runs came at PNC Park.
On the road, Suwinski was a completely different hitter. The results he posted on the road are that of a hitter who has no business even sniffing a major league roster. Seeing splits like that was truly unexplainable.
Away from PNC Park, Suwinski hit .112/.211/.184 with a wRC+ of 15. He walked at a 9.9% clip, but struck out in 36.3% of his 171 plate appearances. His ISO on the road plummeted all the way to a woeful .072.
It's not a surprise to see Suwinski post better numbers at home. After all, most MLB hitters have better stats at their home ballpark if it is not a pitcher's park. Additionally, the Clemente Wall and short porch in right field is built for left-handed hitting success. That said, the splits should not be that extreme.
Looking ahead to 2023, Suwinski will have to find a way to improve on the road. The results he posted on the road in 2022 are stats that make a hitter unplayable. Whatever changes need to be made, whatever may need to be done to become more comfortable away from PNC Park, Suwinski and the Pirate coaching staff must find a way to make those happen this season.