1. Eugenio Suárez
This is the year Reds fans. This is the year we’ll look back and realize that Eugenio Suárez became one of the best players in the game. Last year, Suárez finally got some recognition. In his fifth major league season, Suárez belted a career-high 34 homers with 104 RBIs. He led the team in both categories. This year, I look for Suárez to lead, not just the team, but the league in both categories.
Eugenio Suárez was the best offensive player on the Cincinnati Reds last season. While perhaps Scooter Gennett had more clutch hits, no one put together a better season at the plate for the Reds than Suárez. He slashed .283/.366/.526 with an OPS+ of 135 and a WAR of 4.2. Geno was selected to his first All-Star Game, a tough task in a league with Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant occupying the hot corner as well.
Suárez is going to love sitting in the middle of this year’s lineup. There’s not a single “easy out” on the roster. As I mentioned earlier, I expect Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel to clear the way for Joey Votto in the No. 3 hole. Where do Yasiel Puig, Scooter Gennett, and Suárez fit? Does it matter? All three are going to have opportunities for huge year’s offensively.
Suárez has such as pure and confident swing at the plate. I’d expect he or Puig to be plugged in the No. 4 spot, sandwiched between Votto and Gennett. Even if Geno dropped to No. 6 in the lineup, which I don’t expect, he’d likely have José Peraza hitting behind him in the No. 7 hole. Peraza put together a great season offensively himself in 2018, leading the NL in singles.
An improved roster, another year of experience, and a sound approach at the plate are all reasons why I expect a career-year from Eugenio Suárez. There’s no pressure on him. He’s already signed a long-term deal with the Cincinnati Reds and he’s ingratiated himself with the fan base.
With Billy Hamilton now gone and Scooter Gennett’s future foggy, Reds fans will be looking to Suárez as a player that they can root for and cheer on for years to come. He’s got a vibrant personality that will have Reds Country at his back every time he steps to the plate. Suárez is primed for a huge season.