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Oakland A's: 5 Reasons Kurt Suzuki Should Win the Gold Glove

Jared FeldmanContributor IIIMay 24, 2011

Oakland A's: 5 Reasons Kurt Suzuki Should Win the Gold Glove

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 01:  Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Oakland Athletics fails to tag out Brendan Ryan #26 of the Seattle Mariners on a single hit by Ichiro Suzuki during an opening day game of Major League Baseball at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Oakland A's fans know how good Kurt Suzuki is at his job behind the plate.

    It's certainly time the rest of the nation begins to take notice. He's been a steadfast member of the team for the past three-and-a-half years. He's handled some the best pitchers in the American League, and his team has the lowest ERA in the majors this year.

    He keeps runners off the bases, and when they do reach, they don't stay long.

    There are many reasons why Suzuki should get his first Gold Glove this season. It was difficult to pair the list down to five, but I gave it a shot.

Blocking the Plate

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    OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 04:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins scores past Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Oakland Athletics on a single hit by Jason Kubel in the sixth inning during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on June 4, 2010 in Oakland, Califo
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Obviously, catchers don't like runners crossing their plate (perhaps that's where Dallas Braden got his mound defensive-training courses).

    Suzuki is one of the best at blocking base-runners trying to score. His quickness allows him to get the ball and dive back in an attempt to tag runners out.

    He's also hefty enough to absorb a few necessary blows taken in the line of duty.

Blocking Balls in the Dirt

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    ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 06:  Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a single in the fifth inning as home plate umpire Charlie Reliford and Oakland Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki #8 look on, on Opening Day at Angel Stadium on April 6, 2
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    This is really where Suzuki shines.

    I have never seen a catcher make so many acrobatic plays around the plate. From his left, to his right, to down in the dirt, Suzuki has incredible lateral movement that prevents wild pitches. He is sure-handed and has allowed only a pair of passed balls all season.

    His mobility lets breaking-ball pitchers like Michael Wuertz throw their best pitches in the dirt, knowing he will never let it get by him.

His Quickness on Plays in the Field

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    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 27:  Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Oakland Athletics catches a pop up during their game against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Coliseum on May 27, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    If batters ever get a chance to make contact, Suzuki is very good at directing traffic, as well as backing up first and third base when necessary.

    Catching does its harm on one's knees, but Kurt has yet to show much wear and tear. He is most adept at quickly pouncing on balls near the plate, whether they be fair or foul. His throws to first are extremely accurate, which keeps the ball out of the hands of erstwhile defensive pitchers.

Throwing out Attempted Basestealers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16:  Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Oakland Athletics fields against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 16, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 5-4 in ten innings.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Im
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Suzuki and the A's pitching staff are the best at preventing steals.

    This year Suzuki has caught 18 stealing in 38 chances, good for a .474 percentage. Only Matt Wieters has a higher caught-stealing rate, albeit with 10 fewer chances.

    Kurt is very good at calling pick-off throws and directing pitchers to step off to break up potential stealing opportunities. Suzuki has a dynamite arm, as mentioned, and rarely overthrows his intended base on steal attempts. 

Pitch Calling and Handling of the Pitching Staff

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    OAKLAND, CA - JULY 21:  Michael Wuertz #48 of the Oakland Athletics is congratulated by Kurt Suzuki #8 after they beat the Boston Red Sox at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 21, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    I'm not sure if this is actually factored into Gold Glove consideration, but it should be.

    Handling a pitching staff is the most important part of a catcher's job. Year in and year out, Suzuki has been at the tops of the league in catcher's ERA and fielding percentage.

    He's extremely durable and has yet to miss any significant time (other than for the birth of his daughter). He shows no signs of breaking down and seems to have life and energy every time he steps on the field.

    He might not get the respect he deserves because of playing in Oakland, but the pundits and voters would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate for a Gold Glove at the catcher position this year.

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