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An Improved Jack Suwinski Might be Biggest Boost to Pirates’ Offense

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Jack Suwinski, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — It’s no secret that Jack Suwinski’s 2024 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates has been a major disappointment.

A year after leading the Pirates with 26 home runs and a .793 OPS, Suwinski has looked disoriented for much of the season.

Entering play on Tuesday night, Suwinski was under the Mendoza Line with a .168 batting average and a lowly .543 OPS. Last year’s power has been displayed only sparingly in 2024. Through his first 70 games of the season, he had only six home runs and six doubles with 20 RBIs.

But the 25-year-old had his best game of the season on Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Suwinski went 3 for 3 with a mammoth 448-foot home run to right-center. The ball bounced out of the stadium.

“It was just continuing with the hard work, putting together a couple things,” Suwinski said on what led to his success in the Pirates’ 7-4 loss. “Just some game prep of knowing what (Cardinals starter Kyle Gibson) has and what he likes to do and know how we’re going to attack that.”

It marked the first time this season and the first time in nearly a year that Suwinski recorded three hits in a game with the Pirates. His last three-hit performance came last year on July 24 against the San Diego Padres.

Perhaps having the kind of night he did against the Cardinals will help him break out of his prolonged slump.

“Just confidence in general,” manager Derek Shelton said on what a performance like that can provide. “When you’re not having consistent swings and have three really good at-bats, that’s a really positive moving forward.”

Considering how grim the Pirates’ offense has looked this season, a Suwinski turnaround would pay large dividends.

Even though he hit just .224 last season and struck out in nearly a third of his plate appearances, Suwinski was a large presence in the Pirates’ lineup in terms of both his power and his ability to get on base.

Suwinski’s .339 on-base percentage last year was second on the team behind Andrew McCutchen, who posted a .378 OBP. His .230 ISO was by far the best mark on the team.

Though he’s not alone, his struggles this season have been a big reason as to why the Pirates are near the bottom in most offensive categories.

Of the 13 position players currently on the roster, Suwinski (.180) is one of three players hitting below .200. The others are Yasmani Grandal (.174) and Michael A. Taylor (.191). Jared Triolo, who is batting .202, is not far off.

Grandal’s struggles at the plate were highlighted in Tuesday’s loss. In addition to his home run, Suwinski was erased twice on double plays off the bat of Grandal.

Shelton addressed Grandal’s woes following the game.

“Yeah, he’s got to have better swings. That double play ball he hit, he hit it at 103. He just hit it right at people. The ball in Atlanta he hit the other night that Kelenic ran down. … We’ve got to get balls to fall for him.”

While Grandal’s struggles cannot be ignored, it’s Suwinski that could provide a real boost to a struggling lineup if he’s able to look more like the kind of player he did last season.

For Suwinski, maybe his latest performance is a step in the right direction.

“It’s big time, just something I’ll take with me into the next couple games and just keep rolling with that,” he said.

Time will tell if the Pirates look externally for help with the trade deadline four weeks away.

Until those decisions are made, a resurgence from Suwinski could provide the biggest boost to an ailing lineup — both in the short term and for the rest of the season.

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