Five Burning Questions for the Cincinnati Reds in 2016

Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America

Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America

How will the Reds fill the shoes of now-departed Todd Frazier?

Frazier began to show signs of what he could be when he played 128 games in 2012 swatting 19 HR and finishing third the Rookie-of-the-Year voting behind Bryce Harper and Wade Miley. He had a sophomore slump in 2013 as his average dropped nearly 40 points and his HR total stalled at 19 despite 22 more games.

But the past two seasons featured Frazier asserting himself as one of the premier third basemen in the league, earning All-Star appearances each year and a HR Derby title — albeit trivial — last season as he homered a career-best 35 times including 25 in an unforgettable first half.

So how do the Reds replace the greatness that became FlavaFraz and the ToddFather?

Eugenio Suarez.

Acquired last offseason in the trade that sent Alfredo Simon to Detroit, Suarez came to Cincinnati with minimal expectations with double-play combo Zack Cozart and Phillips already in place and Frazier manning the hot corner. He had just 244 major-league at-bats, all the year before with Detroit, with a paltry .242 AVG. However a season-ending knee injury to Cozart in the middle of June thrust Suarez into an everyday role.

Never hitting more than 10 HR in a minor league season with a career .276 AVG, Suarez exceeded expectations as the Reds’ starting shortstop, hitting .280 and slugging .446 with 13 HR. Outside of a final-month slump, Suarez had been even more impressive, and maybe the most reliable hitter in Cincinnati’s lineup for two months. Disregarding his .333 AVG following a 1-for-3 performance in his first game, Suarez’ average peaked at .329 on July 6 following a 3-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI-game. He carried a .300-plus average through August 25.

What Suarez proved in this time is that he is more than just a bench player. After embracing a new role in 2015, he will be embracing a new position in 2016. While nobody should expect a 35-homer season as Frazier provided, Suarez could prove a solid regular as he looks to develop and enhance his value in his age-24 season.

2 Responses

  1. Carl Insco

    Nice article Brandon. I find it amusing that you said of Suarez when describing his experience: “with a paltry .242 AVG”. Given the fact that it looks like the Reds will have Hamilton, Cozart and Bruce (1/3 of the lineup) as starters, a .242 average looks awesome. Let’s face the facts: Hamilton cannot and probably will never be able to hit and will never or should never be a lead off hitter, Bruce has lost his mojo and should have already been traded giving someone valuable experience and Cozart has never been a high average hitter and even though he started off last season hot he was beginning to tumble like a rock right before his injury. It is sad when 1/3 of your lineup everyday can’t hit their weight. Sure it is nice to have the gold glove type defense of Hamilton and Cozart or the speed of Hamilton or the HR power of a Bruce, but man they have to get on base more and cut down on the SO. Hey I’m all for the rebuild, but they need to trade Cozart and Bruce to add to the rebuild. I would give Hamilton one more year and if he doesn’t improve then either trade him or send him to the bench as a defensive replacement/pinch runner. As far as Bailey goes….well they screwed up giving him the big contract instead of Cueto! He is nothing more than a .500 pitcher with injury concerns. Sure the 2 no hitters were exciting, but I’d rather have a healthy pitcher with an above .500 average.

    • Brandon Shrider

      I couldn’t agree more, Carl. Cozart has never been an offense-first player, and despite a nice start last season, I don’t expect that to change. I’ve never been a fan of Bruce, but he did have a nice run from 2010-13 hitting 30+ HR in three of those four years. Always seemed to be too inconsistent and unreliable to get the big hit. Hamilton, possibly switching back to RH-only could prove beneficial. I doubt he ever hits .300, but I think he can improve enough not to be a liability, and his OBP will prove crucial — maybe he’ll improve on taking walks.
      And definitely agree on the Homer deal. I said that from the time they signed him. The Reds are paying him like an ace, but hasn’t proven to be much more than a No. 3 starter who can’t stay healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of this rebuild goes, with Bruce, Votto and Phillips all possibly on their way out if the Reds can find any takers … and the players waive their NTC’s which I think Phillips and Votto both have.


Leave a Reply