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?
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.