Reds: Eugenio Suarez in leadoff spot is bold, yet brilliant move

ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after striking out. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after striking out. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

On the surface, putting your coldest hitter atop the batting order might seem like the stupidest idea David Bell has ever dreamed up. However, there’s a method to Bell’s madness, and if Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez has protection behind him in the lineup, perhaps he’ll see more pitches he can hit.

The complaint for the past week has been the lack of protection in the Cincinnati Reds lineup around the hot-hitting of Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker. Cincinnati’s corner outfielders are one-two in the National League in batting average. Putting Geno at the dish ahead of Castellanos and Winker may afford more hittable pitches for Cincinnati’s sluggish star.

The Reds are putting protection behind Eugenio Suarez.

What’s been the biggest problem the Reds have had over the past week when it comes to scoring runs? Unless Jesse Winker or Nick Castellanos take care of business on their own, there’s no real threat behind them in the batting order.

Joey Votto is out of the lineup with a broken thumb, Nick Senzel is nursing a sore knee, and Mike Moustakas has a heel contusion. All three Cincinnati regulars are on the 10-day IL. Not to mention, Cincinnati’s home run leader in 2019 is hitting just .148 on the season. Eugenio Suarez is 3 for his last 25 and has struck out nearly 33% of the time during the past seven games.

There’s no easy way to say; Eugenio Suarez has been bad! Suarez leads the National League in strikeouts (62), and trails MLB’s leader in punch outs Joey Gallo by only five. Interestingly enough, Suarez is second on the team in walks (15), trailing only Castellanos (16). That said, his 7.9% walk-rate represents his worst such mark since his first season in the Queen City.

This will be Eugenio Suarez’s first career game for the Reds batting leadoff.

Eugenio Suarez has a current OPS of only .571, so for any and all who want to criticize David Bell’s decision to move Geno up in the batting order, I’m not going to argue too hard against you. However, much as I’ve said when it comes to Luis Castillo, you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result; that’s the definition of insanity.

Suarez has never led off a Major League Baseball game in his entire career. Geno has seen time batting third, fourth, fifth, and as low as sixth in Bell’s lineup this season. The lion’s share of his starts (21) have come with Suarez hitting in the No. 4 hole.

Suarez has seen his best production at the dish during his four starts batting sixth. So why doesn’t Bell move Suarez down in the batting order? Simply put, he doesn’t have the horses to get it done right now. Without Votto, Senzel, and Moose, Bell is without his leadoff hitter, his No. 3 hole batter, and his No. 5 hitter. If it appears as though Bell is grasping at straws, he kind of is.

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On the plus side, Geno’s best slash line comes when the bases are empty. Eugenio Suarez is 17-for-93 (.183) when no one is aboard. He’s racked up four doubles and six round trippers when no other Reds are on base. Hey, that’s gotta count for something.