Miguel Sano missed 39 games in 2017 with a stress reaction in his left leg. He underwent surgery to repair the issue, but this surgery lead to the unintended consequence of Sano bucking the trend by showing up to spring training in the “worst shape of his life.” Sano is listed as 260 pounds on Baseball Reference now, but judging from pictures at spring training he looks closer to 280+. This lack of conditioning and added pressure on his legs leaves Sano open to higher risk of future injury. On the other side, Eugenio hasn’t missed a big league game due to injury in the past two seasons.
Kanye once wrote of Sano, “no one man should have all that power.” Well the clocks ticking and we’re just counting the hours until we see him put it all together. We were all promised annual 50 HR power from Sano, but we’ve all been tripping off that power by drafting him way too early. Miguel’s season high HR total so far is only 28 in 2017. Suarez himself hit 26 HRs in 2017. Although Sano accomplished his total in 110 fewer ABs due the aforementioned injury. No one will ever confuse Suarez’s power with Sano’s, but with his third straight year of increasing HR/FB and a consistent hard-hit percentage — there is the potential for 30 HR in Suarez’s bat.
In the run scoring department Sano (.335) and Suarez’s (.342) OBPs have been nearly identical over the past two seasons. However, again due to Suarez’s reliable health he’s scored 33 runs more than Sano in that time. In 2018 Sano is likely to hit 4th in front of Logan Morrison, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario who had a combined .227 batting average with RISP in 2017. Including a particularly low .168 by new Twin Logan Morrison. Eugenio is scheduled to bat 4th in front of Scooter Gennett, Jose Peraza and presumably other Reds players. 2017 breakout player of the Scooter Gennett actually had a .349 AVG with RISP which we’re all expecting to come down, but still — not bad. And Peraza should be replaced by May by top prospect Nick Senzel which will help out Eugenio and the entire city of Cincinnati.
As for their own batting average with RISP Eugenio has hit .281 for his career compared to Sano’s .259. Sano will have plenty of opportunities to log RBI with the two guys hitting in front of him. Over the past two seasons Brian Dozier has a .349 OBP and Joe Mauer hitting out of the two-hole has a .373 OBP. However, Eugenio has two and a half men in front of him with solid on base percentages as well. Projected by Roster Resource to bat second, Jesse Winker in 2016 and 2017 between the minors and the bigs had a .395 OBP. Joey Votto hitting right ahead of Suarez is obviously the king of OBP with a .444 mark in the past two seasons. Winning! Leading off for the Reds should still be Billy Hamilton who unfortunately doesn’t have great OBP skills (.308 between 2016 and 2017) but still automatically finds himself in scoring position when he does successfully reach first base.
While neither of these guys will light up the base paths Suarez does have a 20 stolen base season on his resume — even if it was in the minors six years ago. He did steal 11 bases in 2016, but was brought back down to reality with 4 in 2017. As for Sano — God help the shortstop covering second during the rare 280 pound Miguel Sano stolen base attempt.
On the batting average side Sano has a career .254 mark while Suarez has a .258. However, Sano’s .264 average in 2017 came on the back of a .375 BABIP. With a career contact rate under 60% and a strikeout rate over 35% his batting average is more likely to be under .250. In 2016 when Sano’s BABIP was .329 his batting average was only .236. Suarez had the opposite problem. His contact rate was 73% while his BABIP was only .309 which lead to a .260 batting average. When his BABIP was .341 in in 2015 he had a career high batting average of .280. With a bit of luck I think Suarez could have a .270 average in 2018.
Miguel Sano: 462 ABs/74 runs/30 HRs/87 RBI/1 SB/.245 AVG
Eugenio Suarez: 540 ABs/81 runs/25 HRs/83 RBI/7 SB/.257 AVG
Sano’s projection obviously comes with an expectation of him missing time. With an off-season recovery from a leg surgery, 20 additional pounds of mass pushing down on that leg and a history of leg injuries, that projection has a high likelihood of coming true. As you can see, another full season of a healthy Suarez will perform about equally to Sano. Sano’s average ADP (yes — average average draft position) across all fantasy baseball sites is currently 100 while Suarez’s is 206. The upside of Sano is what drives his ADP so high over Suarez. If you don’t want to take the high injury risk of Sano and would rather take another player like Cody Allen, Jose Berrios, Rougned Odor or Ryan Braun around pick 100 — you could wait and grab Suarez 10 rounds later.