So we are at that time in the season when we start to look back. Look back at the disappointments and the triumphs, the status quo and the surprises. The tale of Eugenio Suarez has been a fascinating one to tell. At the All-Star break this year he had 20 HR and a .248 AVG, and since then he’s hit 25 HR with a .300 AVG. Right now he’s sitting on 45 HRs and making a run at the homerun title, behind only Pete Alonso. Suarez, we all know, was acquired from the Tigers for the low low price of only one Alfredo Simon, veteran reliever. That’s right. Since joining the Reds, he has bested his season HR total every season. On top of that, he’s increased his wRC+ and oWAR every year except this one shockingly, 2019 (including fewer RBIs). What does that mean? Well, on the whole, it means he’s not quite as efficient as he was at the dish the year prior. He’s evolved each season, but for some reason, despite the HR surge he’s produced less with it this year. So sports fans, lets dive in and see what we learn.

2017 13.3 23.3 .309 .260 .367 .461 .200
2018 10.6 23.4 .322 .283 .366 .526 .243
2019 9.7 28.9 .307 .269 .349 .570 .301

So looking at the last 3 years we see the surface of the result data. In 2017 he learned to walk, jumping from an 8.1% walk rate to 13.3%, and drive a few more balls out increasing his ISO to .200 for the first time. Then in 2018 everything clicked. He traded those walks for selective hits and started to put more power in those hits. Hmmm, then in 2019, he’s taken a step back. Walks dropped again but instead of adding hits he has struck out more. His ISO has climbed a lot in the last 2 years, but the only XBHs that have increased are homeruns (doubles have been stagnant or gone down). More balls leaving parks means hitting them harder right? Not always.

Barrel% Exit Velo Launch Angle FB% HR/FB% Pull% Hardhit%
2017 6.9 86.2 14.7 24.2 17.9 39.5 32.0
2018 9.7 91.2 14.7 30.7 23.4 39.4 45.6
2019 13.7 89.7 17.4 31.3 30.6 51.7 42.1

Along with production, he’s been down in EV, Hardhit% (and wOBA). What he has been up in is Barrel%, LA, pulling balls 50%+ (10% more) of the time. This has resulted in a ballooned 30.6 HR/FB rate. The increase from 2017-18 seems like real growth on the heel of hitting the ball in the air more. His 2019 looks a lot like others 2019s, Suarez joining the Launch Angle Revolution. AND I’ll add, that him pulling the balls more looks to be him compensating the drop in average and walk rate. Suarez appears to be trying to jump on balls early (pulling) that creates more swing and miss chances, making him more vulnerable to offspeed pitches in order to maximize power in his swing.

2017 .314 .513 .179 .358 .189 .472
2018 .312 .529 .224 .493 .254 .593
2019 .317 .660 .208 .468 .179 .375

So my initial thoughts seem to be in pointed in the right direction. Suarez has always hit fastballs well, and this year, he is really crushing them at a .660 SLG clip. 29 of his 45 HRs have come off of fastballs, vs only 18 last year. But this leap forward in dominating FBs has come at the cost of reduced effectiveness against breaking balls and severely handicapping his ability to handle offspeed pitches; whereas, last year he had a very balanced approach and managed all pitch types without a glaring hole.

So this leaves the question then, what will Suarez do next year? Will he continue to sacrifice effectiveness for power and roll the dice on flyballs? His HR/FB rate is likely not repeatable as very few players can duplicate that over multiple seasons. If his approach remains the same and flyballs return to norms, he could end up with 36 HRs and a .240 AVG. Or he could adjust back to a more balanced 2018 approach and hit .275 with 32+ HR. One thing is true, he always seems to improve.

I’ll leave you with this final Table…

Mar/Apr May June July Aug Sept*
AVG .230 .321 .185 .289 .269 .394
HR 7 7 3 12 10 6

With the exception of a dismal (word of the day) June, on a month to month basis Suarez has been a pretty consistent source of power like a nuclear plant. Last year he was consistent too, save the month of April. 6 HRs a month with one down month will still get you to 33+ HRs, so a bit of a dropoff would still be good. Because, despite the concerns 1) he does play in the NL Central and 2) the field he calls home is  Great American Sandbox (which is always friendly to hitters that can get the ball in the air). His approach to deadeye fastballs will be something to ponder this offseason. But then whoever heard of snozberries? We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams.

  1. Grey

    Grey says:

    Gonna be hard to get too negative on anyone’s power going into 2020 with MLB confirming the balls are staying the same one more year, but, I don’t know, not feeling Eugenio for reasons I mentioned last week

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:

      Yeah it’s a tough call. I was half-lucid when I wrote this, haha, so i may have not clearly stated my position. There are some numerical concerns from his success this year, as well as the fastball/offspeed thing i mentioned. But part of me wants to dream that this is more than a hot streak due to his track record of getting better and a friendly division for power. HOWEVER (uhoh Coolwhip can do reversals too)… i don’t think we should pay the ticket price for this 50 HR season next year that is almost assuredly going to happen. 2 years in a row now he’s come out of the gate slow, so if he does the same next season could be a nice buy low from someone with an itchy trigger finger.

      • Grey

        Grey says:

        Yeah, it’s gonna be a real tough call… If it was normal balls, I’d discount him a lot…With juiced balls, hard to root against HRs

  2. bigbear says:

    Good stuff C-dub! I was looking at Suarez’ numbers a couple of weeks ago. I agree in that he’s gone full LA bashball. Heading into this year Suarez was the peanut butter on a PBJ sammich. You forget about him, but he actually provides nutrition. The EV drop isn’t a big deal (1.5 mph). I agree he’ll be overrated heading into 2020.

    Suarez, Harper, Hoskins, Machado, and Goldschmidt heading into 2020? Everyone else is around .250-.260 with 30-35 HR. Anyone not named Machado has a tough case to make. A few other guys with similar surface stats: Pete Albombso, Josh Bell, Donaldson, Chapman, Soler. Obviously, Pete goes higher. I trust Suarez more than the other guys.

    Thinking he’s still a solid top 50 guy.

    • Coolwhip

      Coolwhip says:

      Thanks man, yeah i agree, his value should be about the same it was in this year’s draft.

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