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Updating the Top 100: Eugenio Suarez

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Cincinnati Reds v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

In a bloodless coup, Eugenio Suarez ascended to the throne of Alpha Ballplayer on the Reds in 2018 and he had the decency and grace to miss nearly three weeks with a broken thumb so as to not make the takeover appear non-competitive. Sometimes when I scratch my head about why the front office signals that they are Going For It in 2019, I like to remember that Suarez will be entering his age-27 season in 2019. There are no guarantees that he will peak next year, but it seems well within the bounds of probability that there will be a breakout season in the near future and the team should be well positioned to capitalize if & when it does.

One of the interesting things about Suarez’s 2018 season is that he became less selective at the plate, but it didn’t affect his strikeout rate at all. In essence, he traded walks (13.3% walk rate in 2017 to 10.6% in 2018) for home runs (4.1% HR rate up to 5.6%), with the other underlying peripherals staying pretty flat. That’s a great trade off if he can maintain it.

2019 will be a telling year for Suarez. His value as a batter (OPS+ over the last three seasons: 92, 115, 135) has tracked closely with his power output (look at HR rate, ISO, XBH%, whatever). If there’s more power growth still to be unpacked, then we’re looking at an MVP-ish kind of player. Improvement tends to level off at some point, but the improvement over the last few years has been so significant that one gets the feeling that there’s still some more goodies under the tree.

Defensively, Suarez transitioned from a not very good shortstop to a pretty-much-average third baseman, which tells me that: a) he’s absolutely at the right position right now; and b) he’s got to hang on as a cromulent third baseman for at least five more seasons, because once third basemen hit the defensive decline there’s typically nowhere for them to go except to first base, which isn’t much of an option on this club.

There are several pivotal questions surrounding the Reds that will determine how enjoyable their next few seasons are. How their elite prospects emerge is one, whether the Reds ever Get The Pitching is another. Somewhere on that list, fairly high up, is what Eugenio Suarez looks like at his peak. Here’s hoping for a wild ride.

Over four seasons, Suarez has appeared in 555 games with the Reds and has a batting line of .266/.344/.461 (112 OPS+). He has 91 doubles, 94 dingers, and 304 RBI with the team. His outstanding 2018 season catapulted him from #180 on the all-time Reds list to #105 and he breaks onto the list of franchise best third basemen, debuting at slot #12, displacing Edwin Encarnacion from the list.

Top 15 3rd Basemen in Reds history

  1. Heinie Groh
  2. Arlie Latham
  3. Grady Hatton
  4. Chris Sabo
  5. Hans Lobert
  6. Harry Steinfeldt
  7. Bobby Adams
  8. Billy Werber
  9. Todd Frazier
  10. Aaron Boone
  11. Chuck Dressen
  12. Eugenio Suarez
  13. Charlie Irwin
  14. Babe Pinelli
  15. Lew Riggs