The Los Angeles Angels brought on 15-year veteran Kurt Suzuki in the offseason to play the backup catcher role to Max Stassi. Because of injuries to Stassi and the general strain of catching at the MLB level, Suzuki wound up playing in 68 games as of Sep. 24.
Suzuki’s main role was being a veteran presence in the clubhouse, and he did that successfully. However, his on-field production was lacking, and he showed clear signs of aging at one of baseball’s most difficult positions.
At the plate, he mustered a .229 batting average and a .635 OPS, with both numbers serving as near career-lows. He wasn’t any better behind the plate either, ranking in the 13th percentile for pitch framing and dropping to the negatives of nearly every catching category.
Because of this, Suzuki is fully aware that his impressive career may be winding to an end, and that’s something he’s fully content with as the 2021 season sits just nine games away from the finale, according to Sam Blum of The Athletic:
“You think about that,” Suzuki said of these 10 remaining games possibly being his last as a big leaguer. “I think just being in the position I am — having won a World Series, things like that — I think playing this long in the big leagues, longer than I’ve ever dreamt of playing in the big leagues, that I’m pretty content where I am and what I’ve done in my career. I feel like I’ve had a pretty good career. I’m just kind of leaving it at whatever happens, happens.”
In classic veteran fashion, he made it clear that he is going to give his all for the Angels remaining games, then take time for himself to figure out the next steps.
“I mean, I’ve got (10) games left. I feel like I can impact the game for (10) days,” said Suzuki, noting that he’ll evaluate all his offseason options. “When I say I feel like I have baseball left, I’ve got (10) games. I’ll do the best I can.”
If this is the final stretch for Suzuki, he can be proud of a career that any catcher would dream of. No, Suzuki won’t make the Hall of Fame, but over 15 years he accomplished plenty.
In 2014, Suzuki made his lone All-Star Game. He’s 14th all-time among catchers for putouts. He won a World Series in 2019 with the Washington Nationals as their backup catcher.
Joe Maddon made obvious his respect for Suzuki, partially by allowing him to play out the season instead of turning to a younger prospect. Now, he has just nine games remaining in the 2021 season, and potentially, his career.
David Fletcher feeling pretty good despite uneven year
This certainly was not the year David Fletcher hoped for after signing a five-year contract extension to stay in Anaheim. However, there were still moments of greatness from the Angels fan favorite second baseman.
Even though things have been very up and down for Fletcher, he was still happy with his approach and his performance throughout the 2021 season. Hopefully, the statistical production comes around in 2022 when the Angels look to have legitimate playoff hopes.