Ever since Wilson Ramos tore his ACL on May 13th, catcher had been a position of turmoil for the Nats. The team started four different catchers, none of whom was particularly effective. On August 3rd, however, the Nationals acquired veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland Athletics, who quickly beat out Jesus Floresto become the full-time starter.
Oct 12, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington National catcher Kurt Suzuki (24) forces out St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma (38) at home during the fifth inning of game five of the 2012 NLDS at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Before the season, ZiPS projected Suzuki to hit .259/.313/.393 with 13 home runs and 61 RBI, expecting a rebound from last year’s .237/.276/.328 campaign. Instead, Suzuki was hitting a paltry .218/.250/.286 with Oakland when the Nats traded for him. The Nationals gave up only minor league catcher David Freitas in the deal, likely because Suzuki was making $5 million in 2012, $6.45 million in 2012, and has a $9.25 million vesting option for 2014 thanks to an extension he signed in 2010 after two straight seasons of hitting .275+. The Athletics reportedly also sent money to the Nats in the deal.
It appears that the change of scenery did Suzuki good, however, as he hit .267/.321/.404 in D.C., with a higher OPS than he had in four of his six MLB seasons. He started off fairly coldly, hitting just .222 in the rest of August, but hit .301 in September and October with four home runs, three more than he hit in the first four months of the season with Oakland. In the playoffs, Suzuki was 4-17 with two RBI, one coming as the first run in Game 1 and the other coming as the “insurance run” in the bottom of the eighth of Game 5.
Season Highlight: A two-run, two-out double in the top of the tenth against St. Louis on September 29th, eventually giving the Nats the win, 6-4, as they attempted to lock down the division.
Next Season: Rizzo has said that Suzuki and Ramos will compete for the starting job in 2013. If Suzuki can continue to hit like he did in D.C. in 2012, he’ll certainly earn a sizable share of the playing time.