Third base has been an extremely important position in baseball’s storied history. The position employed some of the greatest defenders the sport has seen, and middle of the order bats. Players like Brooks Robinson, Ron Santo, Eddie Mathews, Mike Schmidt, and George Brett have carved out Hall-of-Fame careers playing the hot corner. Today, we see players such as Nolan Arenado, Justin Turner, Kris Bryant, Jose Ramirez, and Josh Donaldson man the left side of the infield and hold down the heart of the lineup. Hidden under all of those names is a one time All-Star who could be the X-factor to playoff baseball in Cincinnati.
Eugenio Suarez has been a low-key tank for the Cincinnati Reds. He has quietly put up a few good seasons for the Reds, but has just been overshadowed by Joey Votto and the fact that the Reds have been out of the race by mid-May the last few years. Suarez was originally signed by the Tigers and played a mix of third base and shortstop while getting limited action in 2014. A trade for Alfredo Simon sent him packing to Great American Ballpark, which has been his home since 2015. With Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier on the left side, it took a season ending injury to Cosart in June of 2015. He slashed .280/.315/.446 and smacked 13 homers and 48 RBI. in 2016, he transitioned to a full time gig to become the Reds’ starting third baseman after Todd Frazier was shipped to Chicago. That year, he slashed .248/.317/.411 and produced 21 HR and 70 RBI. The stick has always been the staple of his game, yet his glove needed a bit of work. He committed a MLB leading 23 errors that year.
2017 was his true breakout campaign. In 156 games, he raised his batting average from an ok .248 up 12 points to a more respectable .260. He set career highs in HR (26), RBI (82), BB (84), and also cut his errors down considerably from 23 to just nine. Eugenio started picking up steam as being considered one of the games brightest young stars in the game. 2018 was the year he finally got the recognition he deserved.
In July of 2018, Eugenio Suarez was announced as an All-Star for the National League. He finished that season with a slash line of .284/.366/.526 and an OPS of .892. He then reset his career highs in home runs and RBI, as well as hit in 13 less games than the year prior. For reference, here are his offensive numbers next to Nolan Arenado in 2018.
Arenado’s numbers are still another level above, but when you take into consideration the fact that Arenado is a top five player in all of the league (number three in my humble opinion), and the fact that Nolan has 13 games on Eugenio, it starts putting Suarez in a better light,.
With some key off season acquisitions such as Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, as well as another year of development form their younger players, the Reds are in the running for what seems like a more wide open NL Central than we have seen in years past. Could Suarez be that X-factor that put the Reds back into the postseason? Or will he have another monster year buried by the lack of attention his team gets?