Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Players Who Have Made Dramatic Improvements
By Noah Wright
Young outfielder Jack Suwinski has been nothing but awesome to start the 2023 season. After a solid but worrisome rookie campaign, there were questions as to how Suwinski would fare in his sophomore season. So far, there's almost no part of his game he hasn't improved upon, based on the first few weeks of the 2023 campaign.
In 65 plate appearances, Suwinski has an MVP-like .269/.385/.635 triple-slash. He currently has a wOBA above .400 at .422 and a wRC+ well above 160 at 166. Suwinski has cut his strikeout rate down from 30.6% to 26.2% and has upped his walk rate to 16.9%. The icing on the cake is he's been an outstanding defensive outfielder with +3 defensive runs saved and +1 out above average in just 143 innings. More importantly, is that 86 of those frames have come in center field.
Suwinski has upped his hard-hit rate to 56.3% and his exit velocity to 95.2 MPH. The former is in the 95th percentile, while the latter is in the 97th percentile. Now sure, it's early into the year, but one could argue that Suwinski has actually been underperforming based on the expected statistics. xSLG pins his slugging percentage at .687 (compared to .645) while his xwOBA comes in at .457 (compared to .421). Both are in the 98th percentile as of writing this.
However, the biggest improvement he's made has been to his chase rate. Last season, Suwinski had a 24.5% chase rate. That was still above average and in the top 75th percentile, but he's cut that down to a minuscule 14.2% rate. That puts him in the 99th percentile. He currently has the 4th best chase rate, tied with Jon Berti.
Now granted, Suwinski's whiff rate is 33%, putting him in the 15th percentile. His 72.6% zone contact rate is way below the league average rate of 82%. But overall, he's not being fooled by pitches outside the zone nearly as much as last season. It's helped him improve both his walk and strikeout rate, and on top of all that, he is also hitting the ball much harder.