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The Red Report 2018 - Eugenio Suarez

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The Reds next star in the making.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Workouts Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts:

  • Born on July 19, 1991 in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela.
  • Signed as an international free agent by the Detroit Tigers at the age of 17. Eugenio’s been doing this for a while.
  • Came to the Reds in a trade for not only him, but a former first round pitcher Jonathan Crawford. Crawford is probably gorked now, but the Reds only gave up, and hear me out, Alfredo Simon. And then they GOT SIMON BACK the next year (not that he was any good or that any of us wanted him, but still).
  • Look at that damn hair.

Organizational History:

Signed By the Detroit Tigers as an international free agent, October 9, 2008.
Debut June 4, 2014.
Rookie Status: Exceeded Rookie status during 2014 season.
2017 Contract Status: Signed thru 2018, 1 yr/$3.75M.
Arb Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2021

Career Stats

Standard Batting
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
2014 22 DET AL 85 277 244 33 59 9 1 4 23 3 2 22 67 .242 .316 .336 .652 85 82 3 5 5 1 1 6/5D
2015 23 CIN NL 97 398 372 42 104 19 2 13 48 4 1 17 94 .280 .315 .446 .761 106 166 7 3 4 2 0 6/5
2016 24 CIN NL 159 627 565 78 140 25 2 21 70 11 5 51 155 .248 .317 .411 .728 92 232 10 8 0 3 0 *5/6D
2017 25 CIN NL 156 632 534 87 139 25 2 26 82 4 5 84 147 .260 .367 .461 .828 115 246 16 9 0 5 1 *5/6
4 Yrs 497 1934 1715 240 442 78 7 64 223 22 13 174 463 .258 .333 .423 .756 102 726 36 25 9 11 2
162 Game Avg. 162 630 559 78 144 25 2 21 73 7 4 57 151 .258 .333 .423 .756 102 237 12 8 3 4 1
CIN (3 yrs) 412 1657 1471 207 383 69 6 60 200 19 11 152 396 .260 .336 .438 .774 104 644 33 20 4 10 1
DET (1 yr) 85 277 244 33 59 9 1 4 23 3 2 22 67 .242 .316 .336 .652 85 82 3 5 5 1 1
NL (3 yrs) 412 1657 1471 207 383 69 6 60 200 19 11 152 396 .260 .336 .438 .774 104 644 33 20 4 10 1
AL (1 yr) 85 277 244 33 59 9 1 4 23 3 2 22 67 .242 .316 .336 .652 85 82 3 5 5 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2018.

Scouting

2018 Projections

SOURCE PA HR R RBI SB AVG/OBP/SLG DEF fWAR
SOURCE PA HR R RBI SB AVG/OBP/SLG DEF fWAR
Depth Charts 623 24 78 80 7 .254/.340/.447 3.8 2.7
Steamer 596 23 72 73 6 .251/.338/.438 3.3 2.4
Fans 650 26 86 99 6 .263/.363/.466 7.7 4.3
ZiPS 618 25 81 83 9 .257/.343/.456 4.7 3

PitchF/X

Outlook

I don’t usually like to make these write-ups particularly topical, but I think we need to lead off talking about Eugenio Suarez’s hair.

As you can see in the picture above its... different. It wouldn’t be the first time an athlete has done something dramatic to his hair. Hell, a lot of them even go “platinum blonde” in an effort to change things up going into the season.

Eugenio just went platinum. I was first reminded of R&B artist Sisqo, best known for this early 00’s “gem,” but some of my colleagues here at Red Reporter immediately went to “Eugenio Fieri”. I’ll complain with neither.

But let me steer this back into a baseball direction; what if Eugenio Suarez’s hair is just the first act in a Silver Slugger winning 2018 season?

You see what I did there, with the silver hair in relation to a baseball award? That’s why we get paid the big pennies here at Red Reporter dot com.

But back to Suarez. Is there any reason to think that a Silver Slugger title is really that outsized of a goal for the Reds young 3B? Let’s ignore for a moment that the voting for this kind of thing is fairly, uh, arbitrary. And tht someone like Joey Votto hasn’t actually ever won one, which is patently absurd and nearly capable of discrediting the whole thing on it’s face. (Did you know that Paul Goldschmidt actually won the 2017 Silver Slugger at 1B, despite Joey Votto being better than him in nearly every measurable way? Oh, you did? Me too, I just like to write it out from time to time).

Despite those factors, would it surprise anybody for Eugenio to leap into that discussion, coming off his best season to date and still only 26 years old? Suarez showed well in his first Major League action with the Reds in 2015, filling in for the injured Zack Cozart at SS, but there were some obviously worrying numbers. In nearly 400 PA, Suarez walked less than 5% of the time, and his BABIP reached .341, which is about as high as it had ever been in his career, minor leagues included.

So somewhat predictably, Suarez struggled a bit in his first full season in 2016, finishing with a 94 wRC+ while also adjusting to a new position on defense. Thing is, he’s always making adjustments, which is exactly what we want every young player to do.

And then, 2017 happened, and it was like he spent 2016 learning on the job. Eugenio boosted his BB% by >5% while striking out less than he ever had as a Major Leaguer. He upped the power significantly (+50 points in SLG and +33 in ISO, both easily career highs), probably by pulling the ball more than ever (haven’t they all?).

But he did it without really sacrificing anything else. It’s not like he was lucky; the BABIP bairly changed from 2016 to 2017. He didn’t actually hit the ball any harder (it dipped a point over the two season). But he did swing less at pitches outside the zone, while also punishing the ones that he saw in the zone. Overall, he swung less! I mean, just read this fuckin’ thing.

And all of that goes without talking about his defense at his newfound position. He never looked exactly slick as a SS, but his transition to 3B in 2016 wasn’t without growing pains. Then, all the sudden in 2017, the guy was nearly automatic.

Out of everyone in the National League who played 3B and had at least 250 PA, Suarez’s defense grades out as third behind only Anthony Rendon and Nolen Arenado. Defensive metrics aren’t perfect, and especially so when we’re talking about only a season’s worth of sample, but still. That’s the company that Eugenio kept according to the numbers at the hot corner last year. And the eye didn’t lie, either. It was easy to see that he wasn’t just good at it in 2017, he was pretty great.

Circling back to the Silver Slugger talk, even if it WERE an objective award, Eugenio Suarez’s biggest hurdle probably wouldn’t be his own play. Playing 3B in MLB right now is extremely difficult. I already mentioned Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon. But Kris Bryant also plays there. Justin Turner is still alive and well as far as I know. They don’t play in the National League, but Josh Donaldson, Jose Ramirez, Kyle Seager, and Alex Bregman also can play the position a little bit.

What I’m saying is: being a top flight 3B in this league is difficult. Maybe more difficult than it ever has been.

Eugenio Suarez could very well make that leap.