- Third baseman
- 28 years old
- From Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
- Objectively the most adorable Reds player, and also easily the most affable since Jay Bruce.
- Signed by the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent in 2008
- Made MLB debut on June 4, 2014
- Traded by the Tigers to the Cincinnati Reds for Alfredo Simon following 2014 season
- Signed a 7-year, $66 million extension with the Reds before the 2018 season. He is under control through at least 2024, with a team option for 2025.
|162 Game Avg.||162||649||571||82||151||25||2||30||87||5||3||62||161||.265||.345||.473||.817||115||270||14||9||2||5||3|
|CIN (5 yrs)||714||2925||2573||373||688||113||10||143||407||23||14||286||727||.267||.347||.486||.833||117||1250||65||40||4||22||12|
|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 (5 yrs)||714||2925||2573||373||688||113||10||143||407||23||14||286||727||.267||.347||.486||.833||117||1250||65||40||4||22||12|
|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|
Ken Gif-y Jr.
Earlier this week, I wrote about Joey Votto through the lens of, “These don’t have to be Joey Votto’s Reds anymore.” In it, I wrote the words, “Even if the Reds hadn’t brought in several offensive pieces for the 2020 season, it was more likely than not the burden of the Reds offense would lie on Suarez’s shoulders rather than Votto’s.”
It wasn’t supposed to be punny, and I cringed a bit after realizing what I wrote. As we know, the status of Eugenio Suarez’s availability for Opening Day is currently up in the air due to a minor procedure he had to have on his shoulder this offseason.
Putting any more weight on that should would, of course, not be advisable at this point.
Still, what I wrote is figuratively true. Until further notice, Eugenio Suarez is the best offensive player on this club, and he has been for the better part of two seasons now (no offense meant to Scooter Gennett, of course). Whether that bares itself out over the course of the 2020 season is anyone’s guess, but at the end of the day, if the Reds are really, truly going to be good this season, Eugenio Suarez is going to have a major say in it.
Suarez has actually been really good now for three seasons, dating back to 2017 when he put up 3.9 fWAR in a season that was, to that point, his best offensive season of his career. Posting a 116 wRC+, 26 home runs, and good defense, that’s when he really arrived.
His offense found a further gear in 2018, where everything stayed pretty much the same except for the power output. In 13 less games and nearly 30 less plate appearances, Suarez swatted 34 more home runs for a 135 wRC+, nearly 20 points better than previous season (still good for a 3.9 fWAR, because defensive numbers are fickle beasts).
So, what did he do to follow up those performances in 2019? Well, how about 49 home runs in 662 plate appearances with an ISO that topped .300 for the first time in his career. Of National League hitters with at least 250 plate appearances, Suarez’s .301 ISO trails only Christian Yelich (MVP), Cody Bellinger (MVP), and Peter Alonso (Rookie of the Year, 2019’s NL Home Run King). Those 49 home runs ranked second only to the aforementioned Alsono, too.
There’s some evidence to suggest that Suarez sold out for some of that power. His 28.5% strikeout percentage was easily the highest of his career, and he went from pulling only 42.7% of his batted balls in both 2017 and 2018 to 52% of them in 2019. More swinging, more emphasis on pulling likely equals a bigger emphasis on hitting the ever loving shit out of the baseball.
And with the run environment and the 2019 baseball, that’s fine. Fangraphs suggests that Suarez actually hit the ball hard a bit less in 2019 than in 2018, but it’s relatively negligible (48.6% vs. 46.7%). Statcast tells a bit different story, coming in at only 40.8% of the time in 2019 (vs. 45.6% in 2018). Largely driven by that, I think, Statcast isn’t nearly as bullish on his expected stats for the 2019 season. After ranking in the top 8% of the league in expected slugging percentage and top 9% of the league in expected weighted on base average in 2018, Eugenio merely ranks in 79th and 75th percentile, respectively, for 2019.
Which, I guess, somewhat brings us back to the shoulder issue. By all accounts, Suarez’s shoulder injury is relatively minor, and effected his throwing more than his hitting. He’s even progressing well, and after some doubts about being ready for the start of the season, Opening Day is now in play, according to Mark Sheldon over at MLB.com. (Also, can we take a minute to recognize that, despite it being a scary proposition for the Reds, how fucking adorable is it that Suarez hurt himself playing with this toddler daughter by her “throwing” him into the pool). Still, shoulder injuries and surgeries are no small things for hitters. If it takes any time for the shoulder to get right-right, and Suarez doesn’t have the expected power from the jump, it’ll take an altered approach for him to get things done. And it’ll need to be figured out quick.
But, such is the life as the Reds best batter (Best Player is probably strong in a world where Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray exist). It’s somewhat uncharted territory for Suarez. I have a feeling he has what it takes to live up to it.