What is Jack Suwinski? We’re about to Find Out

12-11-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

If I told you the Pirates would call up a rookie this year directly from AA Altoona, he’d play excellent defense in all three outfield positions, and he’d hit 19 homeruns in 336 at bats you’d probably think you have a potential all star on your hands right?

For Jack Suwinski, that’s not the case.

He may wind up being an all star of course, but if you watched his season unfold here in Pittsburgh you know that even while Jack was putting up some big numbers, he was also putting up some of the most stark split stats we’ve ever seen.

His home and away splits are simply unreal.

Home: 201 PA, 16 HR, .282 AVG, .982 OPS
Away: 171 PA, 3 HR, .112 AVG, .395 OPS

Crazy right?

How about just good old fashioned Left vs Right pitching?

Left: 111 PA, 5 HR, .122 AVG, .511 OPS
Right: 261 PA, 14 HR, .237 AVG, .795 OPS

I mean…

So think of what these stats combined say. This dude was RAKING at home vs righties to a Ruthian level. Everything else was a real struggle.

Let’s make it even more messed up. Oh yes, it’s possible.

This dude struck out 114 times. So looking at those stats, he clearly just can’t see lefties and struck out a ton against that pitching right? Not so much. 78 Ks against righties, 36 against lefties.

Now, that’s less at bats facing lefties of course but still that’s not the numbers I would expect to see.

Here’s the bottom line with Jack, he’s a 24 year old who really didn’t start finding himself until his 2021 season in AA with San Diego. He found power there, finally started getting some OPS results and was included in a trade to Pittsburgh, largely seen as a long shot or late bloomer.

In fact last season when he was called up by the Pirates, most people including Jack assumed he was only going to be there for a weekend. Maybe a little longer if he got a chance at all.

Through struggles, and stretches of ice cold plate appearances, the Pirates stuck with him.

They had a former number one pick outfielder sitting in AAA. They had another AA player hitting homeruns seemingly every other at bat from the right side of the dish which they sorely needed in the lineup. Longtime prospects like Cal Mitchell ready to get their shot, and still they stuck with Jack.

Until they didn’t.

On July 14th the Pirates sent Jack Suwinski to AAA Indianapolis after another particularly cold spell.

He didn’t perform especially well in Indy. Yet earned a recall on August 29th after working on timing.

Entering 2023 Jack Suwinski is one of the biggest question marks on the club. At 24 he’s not a guy you’re going to immediately plan to platoon but you’d have to imagine if the numbers stay that stark you have to consider it. The power is very real, but he’s got to solve the home and road splits.

As promising as those 19 homeruns are, this could still go either way for this young man.

This is one of those spots that most fans tend to consider filled. He’s a kid, he’ll get better for sure right? All those homeruns at home, man that’s just an anomaly right? That stuff will average out, it has to.

Think about him this way. If this team was ready to compete, or even get to .500, could you pencil in his numbers next year? Can you assume you don’t need someone to help him lift the weight of his position? If you were to want to trade him, do you think other teams would look at those splits and ignore them as a statistical anomaly?

Good teams keep the door open for kids like this, but they rarely anoint them.

As it stands right now, the Pirates have very few platoon options for Jack should he struggle or his trends stay the same. Miguel Andujar should he make the team (and no that isn’t a guarantee) could certainly handle the job against lefties. He’s a funny case too. His left vs right splits with the Yankees were actually inverted slightly, then with the Pirates violantly swung traditional. So there’s that.

After him, the Pirates have newly acquired Ryan Vilade, Matt Gorski and Matt Fraizer. Everyone else is a lefty.

Jack is the one guy who has to get a shot to be an everyday player because of those power numbers, but he’s also not someone I think they can just believe WILL be an everyday player.

The argument here is really in my mind should the Pirates make bringing in a quality right handed bat for the bench as a direct answer to having this situation with Jack? I believe they really should.

This doesn’t have to be a star, but it really should be someone a bit more accomplished than Andujar. This could even be someone you’d want for a couple years as nobody from the right side is a guarantee to be here beyond 2023.

I’ve looked at the overall depth in the outfield and generally I like where it’s headed, but as Bryan Reynolds situation has shaken the only constant out there, and even feeling strongly he won’t be moved before Spring Training, The Pirates need to support the youngsters as best they can everywhere they identify a hole.

Jack Suwinski’s 19 homeruns can be blinding to that effort if you aren’t careful. I’d like to see the Pirates add here but remain willing to let Jack prove to them they didn’t need to. That’s sometimes a tall ask for a team that is loathed to spend.

So lets decide if we’re serious about truly showing improvement this year or not. To me, if you’re serious, you don’t go into 2023 hoping, you go in feeling at least OK that you have it covered even if guys like Jack don’t evolve.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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