Player Spotlight: Eugenio Suarez
I’m going to be spotlighting a couple players per position that I find especially interesting each week. These are going to be more of a stat based, analytical deep dive on a specific player. The projections next to the player’s name are an average of THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, and ZIPS projections systems found on Fangraphs. NFBC ADP data is from the date range 02/01/2019-02/25/2019. It’s time to get used to Eugenio Suarez being elite.
Eugenio Suarez, CIN (ADP 55): 630 PA, 84 R, 30 HR, 96 RBI, 4 SB, .264/.350/.487/.837
When Suarez was traded from the Tigers to the Reds before the 2015 season, the biggest story was about the player Detroit was getting back: Alfredo Simon. Well, Suarez has made the trade one of the most lopsided in recent memory with the way he’s played the last two years. Suarez was viewed as one of Detroit’s top prospects by the time he came up but scouts didn’t see a real standout tool. Despite many years of .275+ batting averages, average speed, and average power in the minors, the Tigers shipped him off before his age 23 season.
2015 was his first taste of the MLB with Cincinnati and he didn’t disappoint. He slashed .280/.315/.446/.761 with 13 HR and four SB in 97 games. He took a step back with his ratio stats in 2016 despite hitting 21 HR and swiping 11 bags. His career was at a crossroads heading into his age 25 season and he answered the bell, improving every aspect of his game besides stolen bases. He followed up his 2017 breakout with an even bigger one last season (.283/.366/.526/.892 34 HR) and receiving MVP votes.
The fuel behind Suarez’s breakout is an increase in both walk rate and hard hit rate. According to Baseball Savant, he posted the highest hard it rate, average exit velocity, and barrel percentage of his career. The only downfall with the player Suarez has become is the disappearance of the steals. That’s forgivable when he hits 30+ HR and bats .280 like he did in 2018. He’s posted back-to-back .365+ OBP seasons so he’s just as valuable in OBP leagues as standard AVG ones.
Going into 2019, I’m all systems go with Eugenio Suarez. It seems like he still gets discounted because he doesn’t have a flashy pedigree, but it’s important not to fall into traps like that. Look at the numbers he’s put up. This is a stud hitter that you can snag in the 4th round. Being late to buy in to a good hitter in his mid 20s isn’t a great way to win in fantasy baseball. He had some struggles in the second half of 2018 but don’t let that scare you off. He was dealing with a back injury that has since cleared up. He’s a great bet to hit the above projection with the upside of a star going in to his age 27 season.