Reds: Eugenio Suarez’s slump eerily similar to Jesse Winker’s in 2020

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18: Jesse Winker #33 and Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds look on during a team scrimmage. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18: Jesse Winker #33 and Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds look on during a team scrimmage. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Eugenio Suarez is mired in a slump; plain and simple. Yes, it’s painful to watch at times, but even the best players endure long, arduous streaks where they can’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn. Heck, just ask Jesse Winker. The Cincinnati Reds best hitter went through a very similar slump just last year.

No one would dare slander Winker in the same way they’ve been dissing Suarez this season. Winker leads all regulars in OPS (1.058), on-base percentage (.431), and batting average (.373). He’s also second in slugging percentage (.627). And yet, just last year, Winker trudged his way through a slump that was honestly worse than the one Suarez is in right now.

Reds outfielder Jesse Winker suffered through a horrendous slump in 2020.

How soon we forget, right? In September of 2020, after blistering the ball through the first month-plus of the season, Jesse Winker bottomed out. Of the 19 games that Winker played during the month of September, the left-handed slugger slashed .104/.302/.250 with two home runs and six RBIs.

During that same time period, Winker struck out 17 times, grounded into three double plays, and had a BAbip of just .100. This wasn’t a case of Winker being unlucky, this was a case of Winker being in a slump.

It’s easily forgotten because during the month of July, it seemed as though Jesse Winker was hitting everything in sight. Winker hit .369/.459/.798 with 10 home runs and 16 RBIs while racking up six doubles and posting a BAbip of .412.

Winker’s final line from last season was .255/.388/.544 with 12 home runs and 28 RBIs. While the batting average wasn’t the best, Winker led the team in OPS (.932) and had the highest WAR (1.2) among all the Reds position players. Over the course of a 162-game season, Winker was projected to slug 36 home runs and accumulate 70 RBIs.

Reds shortstop Eugenio Suarez is in an eerily similar slump.

It’s a hard pill for fans to swallow; watching their clean-up hitter struggle out of the gates. Eugenio Suarez is hitting just .149 and has a team-worst OPS among regulars of .589. Geno also has 33 strikeouts on the season, which trails only Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs.

The high number of strikeouts don’t concern me much, as Suarez has never been one to lay off a lot of pitches. In 2019, Geno’s 189 strikeouts led the team and all of baseball. In case you were curious, Ronald Acūna Jr. (188), Pete Alonso (183), Jorge Soler (178), and Bryce Harper (178) rounded out the Top 5.

Suarez is ice-cold. He’s hitting .149/.264/.324 with three home runs and seven RBIs in the first 20 games of the 2021 season. Don’t forget, Jesse Winker slashed .104/.302/.250 with two home runs and six RBIs in his final 19 games of the 2020 regular season.

None of this is to say that Eugenio Suarez couldn’t use a day off, in fact, one may be in order. However, it’s hard to envision Reds Manager David Bell sitting Suarez with Mike Moustakas still on the injured list. In a slump or not, Suarez still has plenty of pop in his bat, and bring without two of your big boppers is likely not a strategy Bell is likely to employee.

Moustakas is likely to return Tuesday in Los Angeles, and I foresee Bell giving Suarez a day off on Wednesday afternoon, with the Reds not returning to action until Friday when they come home to battle the Chicago Cubs.

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Yes, Eugenio Suarez is in a slump; that’s undeniable. And while Reds fans are upset, you know that Suarez himself isn’t a happy camper either. Moving him down in the order and/ or benching him for several games is not the answer. This is baseball, not football. One bad month does not a season make. However, if Geno is still riding this slump into June, then we’ve got a big problem.