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Reds: Alejo Lopez should start, but not at shortstop

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Alejo Lopez (98) fields a ground ball.
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Alejo Lopez (98) fields a ground ball.
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With the recent rumors that Alejo Lopez will receive his chance at major league level, now comes the debate of how the Cincinnati Reds should utilize the 25-year-old. While it’s tempting to give Lopez the opportunity to try his hand at shortstop, he hasn’t played there since 2019 and was limited to just 19 fielding the position.

As much as fans may not like the idea, Cincinnati’s best option at shortstop is Eugenio Suarez. When Mike Moustakas returns from injury, Suarez will inevitably shift back to shortstop anyway, so the Reds should get a jump on the concept and put Geno back at shortstop.

Alejo Lopez should start for the Reds, but not at shortstop.

In all honesty, the Cincinnati Reds don’t have any real shortstops on the 40-man roster outside of Jose Barrero. Cincinnati gave Barrero at shot in the majors last season, but decided it was in the 23-year-old’s best interest to begin the season at Double-A Chattanooga. Barrero is hitting .300/.367/.481 for the Lookouts this season, and a promotion to Triple-A seems inevitable.

Until Barrero is MLB-ready, the Reds seem content to ride the ice-cold bat of Eugenio Suarez. Suarez is hitting just .173/.256/.375 this season with 16 home runs and 44 RBIs. Suarez’s 93 punch outs are among the highest in Major League Baseball, but that’s nothing new as Suarez has been among the league leaders in strikeouts for the past three seasons.

The problem this season, however, is the lack of walks and the putrid batting average that has accompanied Geno’s play this season. According to FanGraphs, Suarez has just an 8.7% walk-rate, his lowest since 2016.

If you’re looking for Kyle Farmer to save the day, you can spare yourself the trouble and just look at his .213/.285/.313 slash line to know that he’s not the answer at shortstop either. Yes, Farmer is the far superior defender, as the 30-year-old own 1 defensive run saved while playing shortstop this season. Suarez has -7 DRS at shortstop this season.

Alejo Lopez will ultimately land on the Reds’ bench.

While we’re likely to see Alejo Lopez garner a couple starts in the coming weeks, it’s hard to foresee a rookie supplant Kyle Farmer or Mike Moustakas for the long-term. In fact, it will not happen. However, all is not lost for Lopez, as he can find a nice spot on the Reds bench if he continues to produce as we’ve seen him do in the minor leagues this season.

David Bell will likely take to Lopez relatively quickly, as the Mexico native is a switch hitter. This versatility fits right in with Bell’s philosophy and will give the Reds’ skipper a talented hitter regardless of who the opposing pitcher may be.

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I’m ecstatic that Alejo Lopez is getting the opportunity to be part of the major league experience for the Cincinnati Reds. He’s put in the work this season, and he’s going to get his chance to shine. Let’s just temper our expectations and see Lopez for what he is; a skilled ballplayer who’s quick bat and defensive versatility give the Reds a chance to compete and win games.

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