To the best of the knowledge of Baseball Reference dot com, some 1,879 individuals have had at least 1 plate appearance wearing the uniform of the Cincinnati Reds over the course of the franchise’s great history. It’s a storied history, one that dates back to the very beginnings of the American Association in 1882 and the dawn of the National League in 1890.
Of those 1,879 individuals, only 5 have ever hit more than 40 homers in one single season. George Foster, of course, holds the Reds single-season record of 52, which he accomplished in his MVP season back in 1977. Ted Kluszewski managed to bicep his way beyond the 40 dinger mark twice, belting 49 in 1954 and backing it up with 47 a year later. Before settling in to only hit 40 in a trio of consecutive seasons, the inimitable Adam Dunn walloped 46 in a brilliant offensive campaign in 2004, while both Johnny Bench (1970) and Greg Vaughn (1999) belted 45 in their best individual dingerating seasons as Reds.
Last night, we watched as Eugenio Suarez destroyed a Kyle Keller meatball late against the Miami Marlins, scorching it off the facade of the video board above the LF wall in Miami for a homer in excess of 430 feet. It was the 36th round-tripper for Geno this season, already a career-best mark for the Reds 3B. And with 32 games remaining, he’s now on pace to flirt with 45 dingers in this remarkable season - assuming he keeps up what he’s done so far.
It would be quite the accomplishment for the Reds stalwart 3B, one that admittedly I did not see as possible when he was acquired as a then-SS from the Detroit Tigers prior to the 2015 campaign. He hit 8, 10, and 6 homers combined across all levels in the 3 previous years before being traded to the Cincinnati organization, and power certainly was not his obvious calling card.
Still, in today’s modern baseball era where homers are flying out of ballparks at record-breaking rates, Suarez has managed to become the Reds go-to dinger-crusher. On top of that, 3B has historically been a position where power hitters reside, and to date despite a current crop that features stars like Alex Bregman, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Kris Bryant, and Josh Donaldson, there isn’t a single 3B in baseball who has bashed more homers in 2019 than Suarez.
To tie a bow on this Suarez dinger-tracker, if he does continue on his torrid pace and blow past the round number of 40 this season, he’ll set the Reds single-season record for homers by a 3B, too. That is currently held by Hall of Famer Tony Perez, who belted 39 of his 40 homers in 1970 while manning the hot corner.
Geno, of course, is still a flawed baseball player, as all are. It appears as if his bWAR and fWAR will likely end up lower in 2019 than they were last season, as will his OPS thanks to a dip in walk rate and a spike in his strikeouts. Still, he’s rocketing towards hallowed territory in one particular category, and nothing shines brighter than dingers in the memory banks of baseball fans.
Keep on crushin’, Geno.