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