Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jack Suwinski had a strong September after making improvements to his game
Jack Suwinski had a quality breakout season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The powerful outfielder slashed .224/.339/.454 with 26 long balls, a .341 wOBA, and 112 wRC+. Suwinski was a three-true-outcomes kind of batter. He struck out in 32.2% of his plate appearances but also walked at a 14.4% rate, and his .230 isolated slugging percentage was the 9th best among all qualified batters in 2023.
But Suwnski made some improvements to his game in September. Throughout the final month of the year, Suwinski sacrificed some power in exchange for fewer strikeouts. He hit .289/.359/.489 with a .355 wOBA, and 126 wRC+. Suwinski still hit for some pop with a .200 ISO, but his strikeout rate took a step back to just 26.2% while keeping a 10.1% walk rate.
First, Suwinski got more aggressive with his swing decisions. He upped his chase rate from 21% in April-August to 26.6% in September. Even though he was swinging outside the zone more often, he was making more contact. His 50.7% chase contact rate was well below the league average rate of 62.3%. However, he was nearly league average in September at 60.3%. A big part of the game for guys like Suwinski is their swinging strike rate, and he kept that the same throughout the whole year at just 10.9% where the league average rate was 11.2%.
Suwinski went from striking out over a third of the time in April-August to striking out much less than 30% of the time in September. But are these changes the real deal? Only time will tell, but there’s no doubt that Suwinski changed his approach at the plate.
While Suwinski made as much contact out of the zone in April as he did in September, he chased outside the zone far less often. Overall, his 70.3% contact rate in April was far lower than the 75.6% contact rate he had in September.
This kind of change is what could help Suwinski take a step forward in 2024. If he can combine his raw power with the approach to the plate he took in September, he could start to hit .260 with 30 home runs a season. The potential is there for one of the best offensive threats out of any outfield in the National League next season.