Cincinnati Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez is positioned for a breakout year

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

After starting for the first time last year, Cincinnati Reds’ Eugenio Suarez is ready to breakout.

Eugenio Suarez was one of the highlights for the Cincinnati Reds in 2016.  He had some embarrassing looking moments in the field and on the basepaths, but he survived.  On opening day he was only 24.

Suarez started 159 games for the Reds last season, his first as a third baseman.  After coming up as a shortstop, Suarez switched to third to replace former Home Run Derby champion, Todd Frazier.  He had growing pains, but at the end of the day he played an average MLB third base defensively.

Suarez was 11 of 16 in stolen base attempts in 2016.  That is impressive because in eight attempts of stealing second, he averaged the seventh slowest time in all of baseball.  In total Suarez gained two bases over the course of the season on the basepaths.

Suarez belted 21 home runs driving in 70 and creating 77 runs in the process.  He only batted .248 and struck out 155 times, but was able to maintain an OBP of .317.  He walked more and struck out less in his first season as a starter.

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Suarez also has pressure coming his way.  Last year’s top draft pick, Nick Senzel, has stated that he wants to make his MLB debut in 2017.  Considering they both play third base, Suarez has to be aware of the potential conflict or position change.

Cincinnati Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez is ready for a career year in 2017.

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Suarez may have maxed out his home run potential.  21 home runs is impressive, but he could easily see his batting average increase by 20  points and his OBP could sustain above .325 at that point.  Suarez may also only be a 75 runs created guy a year, but there is more to having a career year than that.

If Suarez can drop his strikeouts by about 20 and maintain his walk rate, he will be halfway there.  The other step he needs to take is to continue to get better on defense.  He was OK overall, but missed some beginner level plays that he must make in 2017.

The other thing that Suarez must do for a career year is become more aggressive on the basepaths.

As a team, the Reds are one of the better base stealing teams.  They are weak going first to third and second to home.

Suarez also needs to maintain his defensive flexibility.  He played a handful of games at short last season and might do so in again 2017.  Jose Peraza was the back-up shortstop and centerfielder until Brandon Phillips was traded.  Now it is unclear whether someone else will stick with the team so Peraza can just stay at second base.

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Suarez will have a breakout year.  After Zack Cozart joins Phillips in moving on, Suarez and Joey Votto will be the leaders of the defense.  Suarez will maintain that position as long as his offense sustains and his other areas continue to improve.