PITTSBURGH — At times this season, Jack Suwinski has performed at an All-Star caliber level. At other times, he’s looked overmatched.
Such is baseball over the course of a 162-game season, though the difference between his production for sometimes weeks at a time has been drastic.
The overall numbers for Suwinski in 2023 are strong. In 142 games, he’s registered an OPS of .796 while getting on base at a healthy .340 clip. He also leads the team in home runs with 26 and has driven in 72 runs.
Looking deeper into those numbers, though, there have been some extreme peaks and valleys. Take April, for example. In the first month of the season, Suwinski slashed .297/.413/.656 with five doubles, six home runs and 18 RBIs in 21 games. That’s an MVP-like pace.
Then look at August. Last month, he hit only .130 and posted an OPS of .529 with just a single home run and only four RBIs in 26 games. That’s closer to what a pitcher hitting would do rather than an everyday position player.
The good news for Suwinski? He’s looking more like an All-Star in the final month of the season.
In 25 September games, the 25-year-old is hitting .293 with an OPS of .868. He has eight extra-base hits — four of which have been home runs — and has driven in 16 runs.
“Just hammering away at a lot of stuff we’ve been working on for a long time,” Suwinski said on his strong month. “Just really dialing it in and seeing some of that take place in the games. But yeah, just getting in the cage and doing some posture work and letting that roll into harder stuff and challenging stuff and letting it out there.”
There’s an apparent reason to Suwinski’s success this month. Entering play on Friday night, Suwinski had the second-highest strikeout rate in baseball — 32.4%. That trailed only Brent Rooker of the Oakland A’s (32.9%) and made him one of only six qualified hitters with a strikeout rate of at least 30%.
This month, it’s still high, but Suwinski has struck out at a more manageable 26.3% clip.
With his contact rate improving, he’s getting rewarded. Suwinski has as many singles this month (16) as he did the last three months combined.
In Friday’s loss to the Miami Marlins, he went the other way for a base hit, something he’s been doing more of in the season’s final stretch. Early on in the season, that was something that hardly happened.
It’s an encouraging end to what’s been an overall solid season in his first full year as a major league player, and the motivation for a strong finish is simple.
“Just going out there and playing as hard as I can to help us win these last couple games and end it on a good note,” he said.
Suwinski’s power is something the Pirates have needed for quite a while, and his left-handed swing is a dream for the short porch in right field at PNC Park, but consistency has been an issue.
If his strong finish this season can translate into a more consistent 2024, it’ll give the Pirates’ lineup a nice boost as they look to take another step in the right direction as a team next year.