Don’t look now, but the Cincinnati Reds are 5-2 to start the 2016 season. Since they are amid the process of rebuilding, the Reds are not expecting to contend for a postseason spot this season. Nevertheless, Cincinnati is already watching one of the players that they hope will contribute when they are sculpted for playoff contention.
That player is utility infielder Eugenio Suarez, the team’s primary third baseman to begin the season. Suarez, who is 24 years old, appears destine to be a regular in Cincy’s batting order for seasons to come.
Acquired from the Detroit Tigers in December 2014, Suarez spent just under half a season in the Reds’ farm system before being promoted to the major-league level in June. When called up, Suarez served as the Reds’ shortstop, filling in for the injured Zack Cozart. In his 372 at-bats with the Reds last season, Suarez compiled 34 extra-base hits, including nineteen doubles and thirteen home runs.
Cozart, who tore ligaments and a tendon in his knee in June, rehabbed well during the offseason and reclaimed his role as the starting shortstop this spring. The Reds traded All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox in December, freeing up a full-time role for Suarez in 2016.
Suarez complemented his new gig at the hot corner with a fine spring training, one where he slashed .356/.457/.576 in 59 at-bats and scored a team-high twelve runs. In addition to the daily third base nod, Suarez has a spot in the top chunk of Cincinnati’s batting order with his name on it.
The team’s primary first-hole hitter a year ago — center fielder Billy Hamilton — is starting the season in the ninth spot in the order, where the Reds hope the speedy 25-year-old can generate more time on the bases. In turn, the Reds have shifted Cozart to the first hole in the lineup. Following Cozart are Suarez and first baseman Joey Votto, owners of two of the team’s three highest on-base percentages to begin the season.
Thus far, Suarez has smoothly translated his solid stretch of exhibition play over to the regular season. In seven games, Suarez has batted .370 with four home runs, nine RBIs, and has scored an MLB-best nine runs, implying a high on-base percentage (.500). If it weren’t for Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, Suarez would be leading the National League in long balls.