Two years ago Eugenio Suárez crushed 49 home runs, setting a Major League record for a player born in Venezuela in a single season. That mark also tied him with Ted Kluszewski for the second most ever in a season by a Cincinnati Reds player. Only George Foster, in his 1977 MVP season, has topped to 50 homer mark in franchise history when he slugged 52 of them and drove in an absurd 149 runs.

“This year my goal is to break my own record,” said Suárez. “In 2019 it was 49. I want to break my own record, and in 2019 I hit 49, this year I hope and I believe it, and I feel like this is going to be a special year for me – I’m going for 50 homers. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I’ll go for 50. Like I said, I worked on my body, I feel so good. I’m going for 50 homers.”

That’s going to be a tall task. The baseball in 2019, we know now, was juiced. And we also know that in 2021 that Major League Baseball has taken steps to try and deaden the ball a little bit. We won’t know until we start seeing games, and some people get their hands on game baseballs to examine them, but if what we believe to be true about the 2019 baseball and the 2021 baseball, it’s going to be harder to hit a home run in the upcoming season than it was back in 2019.

The 2020 season was a difficult one for many players. For some, it was on the field struggles. For others there were some off the field difficulties as can be felt and understood by so many of us given the shape of the world at the time. And for Eugenio Suárez, it was a mix of both of those things.

“It’s hard to play with no fans,” said Suárez. “But for me it was even harder because my family wasn’t with me. I want my family there, I want that support, I wanted that fan support – they support all of us a lot. When you look back, my last year wasn’t good. I didn’t feel happy about last year – talking about myself, not about the team because we made the playoffs – but especially on myself. I’m better than that. I’m not a .200 hitter. I want to be better, and I understand working on my body and keeping my body strong I have got an opportunity to be better. And I think this year I did a really good job of working on my body, and my mentality is strong – I’m a new guy now.”

After having surgery on his shoulder in January, from a health standpoint, the season not beginning until late July may have been beneficial for Eugenio Suárez. But even with the additional time, the shoulder was still a little bit of an issue.

“Yeah, some, but it was more mentality,”  said Suárez of his shoulder. “I knew there was something in my shoulder and I didn’t want to hurt it again. Sometimes I’d feel something, but it’s not an excuse. It was me and I know I’m better than that, but I did my best that I can. The results weren’t what I wanted. That’s why I worked harder than last year, to see the results, to see what’s going to happen this year. I’m so excited for this year and I’m so excited for this year and happy to be around the boys. Everybody looks good, everybody has good energy and I bring my energy to everybody with my Good Vibes Only – that’s me, man. I want to be the best Suárez I can be, the best ever. This year.”

The offseason was a little bit different for the Reds third baseman. He lost weight, dropping 15 pounds, and focused on getting in better shape. The results have him believing good things are coming.

“Yeah, I lost like 15 pounds,” Suárez said. “I just tried to get my body healthy and I understand that my body is very important to play for a long time in the big leagues. So right now I’ve just been working on my body. No more arepas. No more beers.

“All of my body feels strong right now,” he continued.  “It feels so healthy. I want to keep doing it, I don’t want to lose my power – even though I lost weight, I feel like I didn’t lose my power. My power is there and I feel healthy. Last year for me was tough. Talking about everything, overall. My body didn’t feel very good last year. It felt like I was slow, my footwork wasn’t good. This offseason, in my house, with my family and talking about my future in the game, I understand if I didn’t do anything for my body I wouldn’t play as long as I wanted, I just want to play as long as I can. I know I don’t control that, but I control being healthy, and controlling my body. That’s why I am doing this, and right now it feels so good. My body feels good, my energy is high. This is a new version of myself. I worked so hard in the offseason and I want to see what the hard work brings to me. This is going to be my year.”

As far as his approach at the plate, for now at least, it doesn’t sound like the plan it to change much.

“I don’t want to try and change anything,” said Suárez. “My approach is the same. I think it’s more my mentality – I want to try to see the ball as long as I can and hit the ball as hard as I can and hit the ball up the middle, to the opposite field. I haven’t faced pitching yet, but that’s my plan, that’s what I have in my mind. Same approach, same everything, just stronger up here (pointed at his head) and just do the same thing every time, don’t change anything.”

Near the end of the interview, the biggest question in spring training when it comes to the Reds, Eugenio Suárez was asked about playing shortstop.

“(Fingers crossed) Man, you know, it’s not a secret, everybody knows I love to play shortstop,”said Suárez. “It’s my natural position. But, again, I don’t control that. I’ll be so happy if I get at least one game at shortstop. I’m open to playing shortstop. I feel like I can play shortstop right now, I feel like I could do a good job at shortstop. But, you know, we’ll see. Maybe here in spring training I’ll get the opportunity to play shortstop for one or two games.”

As we wrote the other day, the Reds haven’t had serious discussions about that this offseason. But manager David Bell did hedge that comment by saying they “are always open minded.”

63 Responses

  1. Melvin

    From what I saw he never was a good defensive SS but hey. It would be hard to not try him there considering our options (if he really is lighter). Seems like half the 40 man roster wants to try and play SS. LOL

  2. scotly50

    Another year of him uppercutting and striking out. Great News !!!!

    • MuddyCleats

      Agree to a pt, but not sure he’s worse than anyone else. It would be nice to see our vets take more of a gap to gap approach especially w/ runners in scoring position. That and true LO hitters w/ speed is what this team could use a lot more of.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    While he was only 2-9 with 4 strikeouts, I thought Geno grinded out his at-bats vs. the Braves in the postseason. He had a level of focus that was missing for most of the regular season. Hopefully he has a better appreciation and understanding of the mental side. Sounds like he does.

  4. Bred

    The impact of the deadening of the ball will interesting to follow. It is expected to reduce home runs. Hitters that adjust their approach due to the new ball will have a more productive year than those who focus on homers. Will the stitches also be different thereby causing pitchers to adjust? Considering all the shifts a lighter more agile Suarez may be able to play SS. Moose goes to 3rd and Senzel to second. Maybe even get India into the mix. That reduces up the outfield log jam.

    • Aaron B.

      Didn’t Senzel come up as a third baseman? Seems to me it would be simpler to let him play 3B and keep Moose where he is.

    • Brennan

      It seems like the puzzle pieces suddenly fit together perfectly. I’m sure it’s not as simple as it seems but Moose to 3rd, Suarez to SS, Senzel to 2nd, and then a whole bunch of options in outfield.

      I’d be curious to know what’s wrong with that idea.

      • VaRedsFan

        Because Suarez moves like a glacier. His wind up to throw the ball is just short of Satchell Paige.

    • JB WV

      Worked for the Machine when Pete went to third and Foster played every day.

    • 3rdbaseTom

      Or Moose stays at second and the more agile Senzel goes to third covering more ground. That also reduces the outfield log jam and gives Aquino a chance for more at bats.

      • doofus

        Agree that Senzel would cover more ground, but usually a second baseman needs to cover more ground than a third baseman.

    • Matt WI

      Agreed on the thought about how the “deadening” of the ball will be a factor. How about 30 HRs and a healthy side of doubles, Geno? Surf n Turf combo (I don’t know how that phrase applies, but it just felt right, you know?).

  5. JoshG

    I have said all along he can not play SS anymore, BUT If he is back to having a shortstops body, then it’s definitely worth a long look in spring training.

  6. Klugo

    If the Reds were to play their BEST players, then Suarez or Senzel would go to SS and Senzel would play in the infield somewhere, imo.

  7. Roger Garrett

    I love it especially that he has lost 15 pounds.He felt he needed to do something that may help him and losing weight is always a place to start.He is saying the right things and understands what he needs to do so lets play ball.Go Eugenio.

  8. Andy

    Moose to 3rd, Geno to SS fixes a lot of problems.

    • greenmtred

      Strikeouts account for fewer than half of the outs a team records. Defense is still important, particularly at shortstop, so basing lineups strictly on offensive ability may be counter-productive. The Reds have become a pretty lousy defensive team overall, and Suarez was not a good shortstop even when he was younger and thinner. They’ll give him a try, seemingly, and maybe he’ll pleasantly surprise us, but there’s little reason to expect so.

  9. Optimist

    As I see the schedule they have 106 games thru 7/31, which IIRC is the trade deadline. Is it possible the try 6 players at SS, roughly evenly, 16 games each? Oh my.

    Also, what’s up with the single away game with the Cubs on May 31?

  10. JB WV

    Amazing how much better guys are when fully recovered from surgery. Let him play short, live with a little weaker defense and open up the offense by getting Senzel to the infield where he excels. I remember an outfielder who became a mediocre third baseman but opened up a spot for George Foster. Worked well.

  11. Stock

    if Suarez lost 15 pounds this all starts to make sense. Even he has regained his quickness he should be realtively the same SS as he was when he first came to Cincinnati. That means not good but decent.

    Lets say he moves to SS and his defense is 50% worse (from a WAR perspective than his last year at SS). In 2015 his defense was at -6 WAR. Lets say it is now -9 WAR. Galvis was at +1.7 last year in about 30% of the normal games so 5.6 defensive war converted. This puts the Reds down 14.6 defensive WAR with this shift. How can the Reds make this up?

    Mike Moustakas has averaged 3 defensive WAR at 3B in his career. Lets say he moves back to 3B and averages only 1.5 defensive WAR. This would be a 3 defensive WAR upgrade at 3B from 2020.

    Moustakas had a -1.4 defensive WAR at 2B last year (or about -5.1 over the course of a full season). I have never seen Senzel play 2B but Doug raved about his defensive play in the minors at 2B. He would need a +6.5 WAR to have the Reds break even from 2020 across the diamond. This would put him as a top 5 defensive 2B which is doubtful. But it without a doubt makes the Reds better offensively. The defensive downgrade at SS may have more impact than the upgrades at 2B and 3B but it may be offset by the offense. I will look into that further.

    As for the 50 HR. That seems very plausible. in the last 33 games of 2020 once he became more mentally into the game and comfortable he hit 12 HR. His final 79 games (50% of the 158 he played in 2019) he hit 33 HR. in this 112 games he hit 45 HR or one every 2.5 games. Suppose he is effected 10% (instead of the projected 5%) by the deadened ball. That means he would have to play 138 games to reach 50 HR.

  12. ClevelandRedsFan

    Seems like all the Reds are coming out and saying they want to hit for more power and/or homeruns. That scares me. The problems last year weren’t from a lack of homeruns but rather a lack of hits.

    At least Suarez said he wants to hit opposite field.

  13. JB WV

    Hey Doug, my posts aren’t going through. Is there a problem?

    • Doug Gray

      I checked both the spam and trash folders and did not see anything in there from you…. so if there’s a problem, it’s not something from our end that I can see. You did have two comments go through about 10-15 minutes before this one. Not sure if for some reason your phone is just showing you cached versions of the page or what.

      • Matt WI

        Yes… I think there has been a chaching issue. This thread had only 5 replies for most of the day on my device, and the post I made never showed up until checking now.

      • Doug Gray

        Yeah, that’s basically what I’ve come to believe. Had to deal with customer service and they are now “investigating the problem”. The issue had to be pushed up the chain because the “chat” guy couldn’t figure it out and was more perplexed than I was. I know a “workaround”, but I have to do it for every comment, and every story I publish, and that’s just not realistic. So hopefully they get it figured out quickly. Until then, though, I would say that comments may just not appear right away, then a few will show up all at once when I “workaround” that issue.

        Going to publish a new article in a few minutes, which will then “update” everything, but then I’m going to go transcribe some interviews and there may not be a new “update” of comments for a while as I’m doing that.

        Websites are stupid when they don’t work as you want them to.

  14. Hotto4Votto

    The defense will already be poor. The only above average defenders we’ll have will be Barnhart when he plays, and when Akiyama plays LF. When he’s in CF he’ll likely be average at best. Suarez has been inconsistent at 3B but Moose would probably be better at 3B than 2B. How much worse can it be if we just sacrifice defense for offense? I know that neither Suarez or Senzel are shortstops, but we need offense and we need to get our best hitters in the lineup. As many have mentioned, with the amount of shifting and defensive positioning happening would it even make much of a difference?

  15. John C.

    I know it might be a pipe dream but Suarez playing SS completely changes the dynamic of this team. Defense could improve at both 2nd base and 3rd base and we could have a much less crowed outfield if Senzel can stay healthy and play second base. That lineup looks a little more scary.

  16. AllTheHype

    Successful power hitters focus on hard contact, not homers, and let the homers come with contact. If he’s really focused on homers, definitely not a good thing.

    • TR

      You are correct. The advice of Mr. RBI, Tony Perez, was ‘see the ball, hit the ball.’ Centering on homeruns will mean a continuation of the poor Red’s offense of last season with the spotlight on zero runs in two playoff games.

  17. Klugo

    If the Reds were to play their BEST players, then Suarez would be at SS and/or Senzel would be in the infield somewhere, imo.

    • AllTheHype

      You are really saying “If the Reds were to focus on offense not defense, then Suarez would be at SS and/or Senzel would be in the infield somewhere”.

      Suarez at SS and Akiyama (presumably) in CF would be the worst up the middle defense in baseball, no matter who is at 2B. For a pitching first team, that would spell disaster.

  18. Sliotar

    No disrespect to @Bred, who only referenced India in passing.

    IMO … India = desperation.

    Why he has come up several times recently on Reds Twitter and elsewhere is beyond me.

    India had 111 AB … in AA … in 2019.

    He is one of the few currently identified Reds minor league position players that may, may … be a contributing major-leaguer someday.

    If in Cincinnati, India could outperform Garcia’s 3 wRC+ in 67 AB in 2020. But, why force that? Because the team signed lousy FA contracts and now won’t spend?

    It would be more short-termism, knee-jerk stuff.

    • Doug Gray

      2019 was a long time ago. And India wasn’t exactly healthy for much of 2019, either. His stock, if you will, is up significantly based on how he performed and looked at Prasco, compared to what it was in 2019.

  19. Roger Garrett

    I like it.He knows what happened and is taking steps to correct it.Don’t know about 50 homers and playing short but why not.Go Eugenio.

  20. indyDoug

    I mean seriously why not him at SS? It’s not like the rest of the IF (or OF for that matter) is above average defensively. Let’s out-slug them! Earl Weaver was ahead of his time waiting on the 3 run HR!

  21. Jimbo44CN

    There is some sort of problem as my comments aren’t going thru either.

    • Doug Gray

      Not sure if you, or anyone else is going to see this or not – but comments are going through…. sort of. I’ve checked different devices now and it seems that if you aren’t logged in, that you are not getting an updated version of the site right now, including submitted comments. I have no idea how that’s even possible as there is no caching plugin being used, which would be able to explain why that would, in theory, happen.

  22. Jimbo44CN

    Well, it happened on two different posts. ON this one, the Suarez post, I got the email to confirm my comments, and then went back to the website to see if my post was there and it wasnt. Another strange thing is that I added a comment to the Jose De Leon post, and it did not show up as they usually do . The web page just stayed on the header and did not go down to the last comment as it usually does. Hope this helps. Jim

  23. Jimbo44CN

    Got your email but nothing showed up on the website.

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, there is something weird happening. I’m looking into it…. I’m not really sure what’s causing it. Attempting to troubleshoot it now.

  24. Steve Schoenbaechler

    He may want to get 50 HR’s, but he needs to get on base better than an 312 clip. So, I would forget about the 50 HR’s. He will get plenty of HR’s. Get on base.

    • MBS

      When Suarez hit 49 he had a .358 OBP, which was highest on the team in 2019. I think you can disregard 2020 stats across the board, unless the 2021 stats are similar. At that point then you have a legitimate concern or trend.

  25. doofus

    If we curse in a comment when our posts are not showing up, will anyone be able to read them?

  26. Max Bragg

    All I hear about is Senzel the real fix for this team is a LEGIT LEADOFF Hitter, dropping Votto lower for RBI opportunities.

  27. Optimist

    For several years I’ve thought the odds of Suarez ever playing SS again were firmly set at 0% (including D Bell’s comment about him being there during shifts). Given the non-activity this winter, the more recent chatter about Farmer, and now the past few days with Suarez himself, as well as some in the media – what are the odds now? 5%, 10%, 20% – I still cannot get past 20.

    Doug – I think you’ve been in the 0% camp – are you still there?

    • Doug Gray

      Let’s call it 5%. The odds that he’ll start more than a few games? I’ll go ahead and stick at 0%.

  28. Kevin Patrick

    Everyone seems interested in having Senzel come into the infield if Suarez were to play short… uh…I think he’s fine in center. The outfielder to move in would be Castellanos at third. This would give guys that need to see more regular at bats play more often… ie…Akiyama, Senzel, Aquino, and Winker. It would also make it easier to justify keeping a glove only bench player and keep Castellanos happy…Castellanos is good. I don’t care what happened last year… besides, I’m under the impression that the most important defensive positions are catcher, pitcher, short and CENTER. The Reds simply don’t have anyone better to play center now.

    • MBS

      Shogo? He almost won a GG last year in LF while playing all 3 OF positions. I do get your point. I also think if the new Votto, is like the old Votto, 1B might be getting a bit more crowded. Maybe Winker could transition to 1B, or Moustakes.

      • Kevin Patrick

        Shogo will get plenty of time in center… he and Lorenzen are really the only good options other than Senzel… maybe Aquino against lefties but then you might as well have Senzel in anyways.

      • DaveCT

        I think teams would run on Shogo’s arm. I also still subscribe to the idea of leaving Senzel alone at this point. He had to learn a new position in the ML’s plus had the team de-construct his swing at the ML’s ‘s in the same season. Bouncing a younger guy around doesn’t always play out well. That said, returning Senzel to 3B would likely be ok over time. I like his range there to help cover for Geno’s lack thereof.

  29. Still a Red

    All the talk of shuffling positions is intriguing, but I have to believe that doing so will not lead to better defense in the short run. That said, Geno does play short on shifts…though its not clear how many chances he gets doing that. Castellanos moving to third sounds plausible (since I believe he has played there)…but again, probably not better than Geno there). It would be nice to get Winker in more frequently (I think if he could face more left handed pitching his stats against LHP would improve). If he could play more 1B when Joey rests that may be where he should end up.

    • Doug Gray

      I see that thought a lot that “Geno plays short on the shifts”, but the team doesn’t actually expect the ball to be hit there, which is why the shortstop isn’t playing there. If the team expected the batter to hit the ball to where we typically assign the shortstop, Geno would not be playing there.