2017 Reds

Eugenio Suarez Must Play

There has been a lot of talk this season about where to play all the hot prospects coming through the system. Peraza has to play somewhere. So does Herrera. So does Senzel. Many people are ready to give Adam Duvall the LF job. Winker, of course, is also going to play eventually.

But one name is often forgotten in this discussion – Eugenio Suarez.

The reason, I think, is pretty simple, fans naturally put too much weight on how a player starts his season. When I tweet about Joey Votto, for instance, I get occasional complaints of how unacceptable his start to the season was. Never mind that his numbers are in line with his career norms now. He was bad at the beginning of the year and that is unacceptable. However, these same fans often ignore steep declines in production when a player starts out really hot (See: Frazier, Todd – 2015 edition). This happens, I assume, because when a slump comes later, it never really makes the numbers look bad. It just makes them look how we expect them to look.

So now, let’s do a little exercise here.

Player A: .274/.344/.443

Player B: .226/.296/.457

So which player do you want? It’s pretty easy, right? You take Player A every time. Player A, of course, is Suarez, Player B is Adam Duvall. Those are their numbers since June 1 (excluding yesterday’s game).

Now, to be clear, I am not saying we should pretend April and May didn’t happen; they did and they matter. The month of May is why, for the season, Adam Duvall’s numbers have been better than Eugenio Suarez’s numbers.

However, there are other things going on here. In May, Suarez was just going into his 2nd month playing 3rd at the major league level. A position he hadn’t played since he was 18. Adam Duvall was playing left, a much less demanding position which he had begun transitioning to the previous season. Duvall looked good in left and was hitting well. Suarez looked bad at third and was hitting poorly. There’s your narrative.

Except, well, the season progressed. And now Suarez is a good third baseman. Both the numbers and the eye test agree that he’s come a long way. Offensively, in recent months, he’s started to display the plate discipline he showed in the minors. Something that .344 OBP since June 1 illustrates. Also, he’s shown off 20+ HR power. Oh, and he just turned 25. You can do a lot worse.

The point of this post isn’t to say that other guys shouldn’t play. It’s to say that, of all of them, Suarez is the one who is both young AND has proven himself capable of contributing at the major league level. Given that, he should never be looked at as the odd man out.

Now, obviously, it is possible that any of the above mentioned players could fail to produce. If that’s the case, Suarez can be slotted in wherever there’s need. However, if all the players DO work out, the Reds need to realize what they have in Suarez. That is, they have a player who can be slotted in at SS, 2B, 3B, and likely LF or RF. Frankly, he’d probably be okay at CF or 1B in a pinch.

You don’t let that kind of player go. You let him play, even if it means turning him into the Reds’ version of Ben Zobrist. If I’m a member of the Reds management talking to Suarez, I tell him we appreciate everything he brings to the table. I tell him that we need to see how things shake out but that no matter what, he will play every day or nearly every day. And then, if the Reds are transplanted into a magical fantasy land where all prospects pan out, Suarez becomes a super-sub, playing all over the diamond giving other guys a rest and becoming the best fill-in you could ever hope for if someone gets hurt.

So don’t forget about Eugenio Suarez because, while he might not be the best of this new bunch of players, it’s unlikely he’ll be anywhere near the worst.

20 thoughts on “Eugenio Suarez Must Play

  1. Agreed. Fortunately, it’s not really a problem yet, and I don’t see it being one moving forward. We’ll lose Cozart and BP soon enough, and as we all know, depth has been the Red’s achille’s heel for years on end. I’d like to see them stockpile versatile players and condition them to this usage in the minors. It’s paid off in spades with Peraza already. It’s everything the forward thinking franchises like Cubs and Cardinals do right. At the big league level, it starts by establishing a team first culture, and that comes from the manager. Unfortunately, in this respect, Price is the wrong guy. Just seeing him routinely slot Dejesus #2 in the order so as not to upset the delicate sensibilities of the veterans who are used to batting in a certain spot is the exact opposite message he should be sending.

  2. Completely agree. His age and production dictate he is lay regularly. If anything Duvall hasn’t proven as much as Suarez has the past 3 years.

  3. Agree with this sentiment 100%. It’s unfortunate that people remember that 0-for-whatever streak and high error tally from early in the year and wrote him off. I think the fact that his name isn’t Todd Frazier has also hurt, but I still think he’ll be a part of the next good Reds team.

    FWIW, Cozart cratered similarly to Duvall — in the second half, he’s hitting just .223/.291/.312, yet he’s continued to get the bulk of starts at SS and bat in the two-hole. That’s another column, though!

  4. Only reason to play certain vets in September is to showcase them for off-season movement. Not sure if this even works anymore, and it can backfire, but if you don’t play a guy another team can have 1001 reasons to low-ball their offer.

    Personnaly, I’d go total youth, its more fun and optimistic, but perhaps they are trying to squeeze a little more trade value out of some vets.

  5. I like Suarez at 3B, but I would love Suarez at 2B. Suarez has steadily improved his defense over at 3B as the season has gone along. I not sure that putting Suarez in another defensive position to learn by OJT would be best, but I think his defense would shine through there better, plus his bat plays very well there. Keeping Suarez at 3B and moving Senzel to 2B is an option I guess. When Senzel is ready, an infield of Votto, Suarez, Peraza, and Senzel looks very good. Winker in LF, BHam in CF and a stud OF in RF.
    Herrera could be a nice part of a big trade package for a quality OF hitter.

    • Senzel will be a few years, MAYBE. Suarez is getting better and is already equal to Frazer. So leave him at 3nd. Peraza is SS and Herrera is at 2nd. There they are, our next infleid.

  6. As I have often said I like it when young guys learn to play at the major league level and when you have no hope to compete for the playoffs that is exactly what you do with as many as you can.We have found out about Suarez and it is a no brainer in that he plays somewhere.He took the challenge to learn a new position and has turned it around the second half.We have learned about Duvall and Schebler/Peraza should play every day the rest of the year so we can get some data on them.I wish we had auditioned more guys just to see what we have but it really hasn’t been that bad.This off season and next year will tell us more.I feel the future is bright but we will see.

  7. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the Reds let Suarez go. But it matters what position he ends up in. Suarez’s run creation (wRC+) is 98 this year so far. His wRC+ was 84 before the All Star break and has been 122 afterward. Last year it was 106.

    Here’s a list of the MLB average wRC+ for each position and 2016 numbers for the Reds:

    1B: 108 (Votto 152)
    2B: 101 (Phillips 93)
    SS: 93 (Cozart 91)
    3B: 107 (Suarez 98)
    LF: 96 (Duvall 105)
    CF: 96 (Hamilton 78)
    RF: 101 (Schebler 93, Bruce 126)

    The MLB average numbers change from year to year.

    • I think its fair to say 3B and LF should both be “offensive” positions (especially if CF and SS are not on your team). Suarez needs to be kept at 3B until Senzel is ready because 1) he deserves the chance based on performance 2) there is no better option. 2B will be Herrera, Peraza, or BP next year so no need to muddy the waters there. Lets hope SS opens up for Peraza (but am worried we get very little in trade for Cozart).

      • A shortstop that runs about a 5.6 forty and can’t hit….warm body to be named later is about it! We did get a couple good years out of Nick Masset though for Ken Griffey Jr…the cheeseburger edition

      • Any expected return on Cozart has practically evaporated. Just opening a positional spot for Peraza is good enough now.
        The likelihood of this happening is very remote, but the Reds might even non-tender Cozart if they think it’ll be hard to trade Cozart this winter. The Reds need to go into spring training without Cozart or BP on the 25-man roster and not waste any time on whether they think they’ll be able to trade either at the end of spring training or sometime next year. Indecision on the Reds part in this area will be harmful and a setback to The Re-build. The Reds have to wait through spring training to see what they have with Mesoraco.

    • I don’t think anyone thinks Suarez is going to play 3B longterm. Senzel is as close to a sure-thing as the Reds have (and that’s what’s supposed to happen when you have the 2nd pick). But this approach to things is flawed. A 107 wRC+ is the highest 3B numbers since 1951. Which is to say, its’ extremely anomalous.

      The 20-year avg. wRC+ for a 3B is 97.65. Or almost exactly what Suarez has done. Given that he’s a reasonable bet to improve for a few more years, odds are the Reds would be just fine if he was the everyday 3B. It isn’t typically an elite offensive position and is unlikely to remain so for long.

      • Good info, but I don’t think the average production matters at all. A winning team will need a few elite and most over average players. WHERE they play is less relevant than the production of the team altogether.

        • Yes. I tend to agree. Value is value. The point I was making was that this is an elite year for 3Bs (in fact, it’s been the best year ever, believe it or not), so judging Suarez against the standard set this year isn’t an accurate reflection of what’s likely to be reality going forward.

  8. I find it funny that you said, “that’s the kind of player you don’t let go”. It’s funny bcuz IF Suarez becomes an elite offensive & defensive player, he’ll then BECOME a player we HAVE to let go. Now one can differentiate between now and then. In other words, for NOW he’s a plyr you don’t let go, but IF he becomes elite, he’ll THEN become a player we have to let go bcuz we can’t afford him…which would be understandable. That’s how life goes for a small market team (you know, that typical line). And that’s the truth and a cold hard fact that can’t be reasoned with. Again, that’s understandable and even acceptable to a certain degree. But my question for you guys has nothing to do with how the Reds have to conduct their business, I understand that’s how things are. But actually it’s not so much a question that needs answering but, rather, something to be pondered. And the question is, isn’t it funny how easily a players status can change, how fickle & thin that line truly is between the 2 statuses? PS: Now the kicker here is whether or not Suarez becomes elite or a super-utility backup. IF he becomes a backup, the Reds just might be able to keep him until he retires (which even then is highly unlikely bcuz he’ll either drop in production from being a backup & not getting regular playing time OR he’ll still become too good to keep and we’ll trade him for more young prospects). Ahh, the ups & downs of a small market team.

    • I take issue with this sentiment. The only legitmately elite players the Reds have let go in recent years are Chapman and Cueto. They signed Votto. They signed Phillips. They signed Bailey when he looked like he might be elite. Cueto, they got a good haul for. Anyway, the other players who’ve left haven’t performed as well as their replacements, so I don’t know what the complaint is.

      The fact is, if you have young replacements coming, it is usually (not always) better to let the veteran talent go because players tend to get worse as they get more expensive. It’s just the way the market it set up.

      • I understand what you’re saying about the Reds signing some of their elite talent. But I think the Phillips situation is leaving a little bit of a bitter taste in their mouths just bcuz they can’t seemingly get rid of him. Bailey’s often injured and that could possibly be a bitter pill to swallow for upper mgmt as well (not sure). Votto, well what can I say, he’s my favorite player and he’s one of the best hitters in mlb history so he’s well worth his contract if you ask me. It seems though that what you’re saying is that IF Suarez did become an elite level plyr, that the Reds would probably sign him to a LTC. It would seem to me that Jocketty started a new way of doing things in the Reds organization. A new blueprint if you will. It seems as if this blueprint will work. If that’s the case and this does indeed work, then I could possibly see a future where the Reds no longer dole out LTC’s (maybe every now and then). I think this blueprint of trading veteran talent for young Major League ready talent is something that could stick around for awhile.

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