Should We Be Worried About Eugenio Suárez?

Eugenio Suárez is struggling. Is it a slump or is he just ... bad?

There probably isn’t another team with as disappointing of a season as the Cincinnati Reds. After an offseason that made it very clear they were looking to contend, the Reds sit in fourth place in the NL Central with a 15-19 record. Their starting pitching is the best in the league, and after a rocky start to the season, their bullpen has been lights out. But the bats have struggled mightily. Surprisingly, one of their biggest offensive pains is coming from their best hitter the past two seasons — Eugenio Suárez. Had you asked me who I thought would struggle to hit two months ago, Suárez wouldn’t have made the list. He’s had two straight seasons of at least a 133 wRC+, but nonetheless, here he is slashing .179/.298/.393 with an 84 wRC+. So, what gives?


Reason for Concern


Suárez’s struggles aren’t all that complicated, but they can definitely be seen as concerning. If we start on the surface and look at his Statcast percentile rankings, we can see a few clear contributors:

We see a respectable barrel rate and xSLG, supported by the seven homers he’s hit, but nothing else looks like what you’d expect from your team’s best hitter. Now, maybe some of it is skewed by a terrible start to the season — he’s still only had just 131 PA — but extending his profile to the past two seasons is where the concern grows:



That’s a lot to look at, so we’re going to break it down. But in short, Suárez has taken a step back each season:


Eugenio Suárez Expected Stats


The trend shown speaks for itself, but to reiterate the obvious, Suárez has gotten worse each year in every expected form. Expected stats are built off batted ball quality. More precisely, they use a ball’s exit velocity and launch angle to determine the expected outcomes based on quality of contact, instead of relying solely on the actual results. This is important to emphasize, because Suárez isn’t doing anything noticeable to counter his decline in contact. His hard-hit rate has gone down each year — from 45.6% in 2018, to 40.8% in 2019, and to 32.9% in 2020. In fact, his last 50 batted balls aren’t very encouraging, even with the positive results he’s recently had:


Hitting the ball consistently hard is arguably the most important thing a hitter can do, making Suárez’s inability to make consistent hard contact my biggest worry. Is he losing his strength? Or is he going with an approach that is hindering his consistency? To me, it looks like he selling out for one thing: homers. Let’s keep going.


Eugenio Suárez Batted Ball Data


When we look at his batted ball data, we see an uptick in ground ball rate, a big decrease to his line drive rate over the three years, and a steady increase in fly ball rate. But we also see a commitment from Suárez to really pulling the baseball the past two seasons. Pulling the ball is generally good, because it’s where a hitter will hit the ball the hardest, but we’re not seeing this pay off for Suárez this year because of the angle he’s pulling the baseball at.


Eugenio Suárez Pulled Ball Data


Even more than his overall batted ball data, when Suárez pulls the ball he’s hitting it more often on the ground, resulting in a xBA of .217 on these balls. Last season, we saw what looked to be a conscious change to Suárez’s approach: One that saw him pull more balls in the air but act as a trade-off. Suárez hit more homers but made less consistent quality contact. This season, he’s still pulling the ball as often, but is struggling to elevate the ball and is seeing the worst quality of contact he’s had over the three-year span. This is a recipe for disaster for just about anyone, but especially someone who is looking to lead the team in home runs. Suárez still has a 92.2 mph average on FB/LD, which isn’t far off from the averages he’s posted the past two years, so his power is still there. But if Suárez wants to be the hitter he was the past two seasons, he’s going to need to either get the ball off the ground, or shift back to an all-fields approach.

To add to concerns, Suárez is struggling against the one pitch he crushed last season.



Last season, Suárez took a big step back against off-speed and breaking pitches, but made extreme improvements versus fastballs. This season, his xwOBA versus fastballs has dropped by .040.

To sum it all up, Suárez has shown a decline in how hard he has consistently hit the ball. I don’t believe that he’s lost his ability to hit the ball hard at a 45% rate like he did in 2018, but by actively trying to pull the ball more, he’s adding in more soft contact. It’s a trade-off that a lot of players are willing to make. The big question is how much consistency will Suárez be sacrificing to maximize his power?


The Bright Side


Contact has been a big struggle for Suárez, but his plate discipline has stayed the course. He’s chasing a bit less than last season and currently holds a career best 13.7% walk rate. His whiff rate has increased by about 2%, but has improved in where he ranks among the league’s hitters. Additionally, over his last 52 PA, Suárez is hitting .255/.327/.596 with a 135 wRC+ while still holding just a .226 BABIP. We can see Suárez is starting to figure it out as of late.


He’s still been a roller-coaster, but his recent offense has undoubtedly been good. Part of the positive results come from the five homers he’s hit in those 52 PA, but he’s seen improvements versus non-fastballs a bit this season too.




His Pitch% by each pitch group hasn’t changed all that much, so it’s not like he’s seeing more or less of any kind of pitch. He’s just hitting those off-speed and breaking pitches better than he did in 2019. He still isn’t hitting them like he did in 2018, where he hit every pitch fantastically, but the improvement is evident.

Lastly, Suárez has been the victim of bad luck.

Here’s a list of the worst hitters in the league by BABIP:

  1. Matt Olson — .151
  2. Tyler O’Neill — .178
  3. Rio Ruiz — .183
  4. Eugenio Suárez — .188
  5. Max Muncy — .190

Not all of it is bad luck, because a high ground ball rate and weak hit balls are going to yield poor results, but Suárez has a BABIP and xBABIP that tell two different stories. Let’s take a look at his numbers of the past three seasons.


Eugenio Suárez Poor Luck


Again, we see the expected results on a decline, but the margin between the difference is much greater than his past two seasons. So, we’d have to think some better luck is in the near future.

I think it’s fair to say that we will see some better fortune for Suárez going forward, but I also think it’s fair to be concerned about what’s to come. His steady decline in hard hit rate is worrisome, and if he doesn’t get back to more line drives, he’s really going to minimize the damage he can do at the plate. I don’t want Suárez to be a guy that slaps a single to RF every other at bat, that’s wasting his power. But I’m not sure I want him selling out completely to his pull side. His best season came from that 2018 data and those numbers seem much more sustainable long-term than those of his 2019 season. Let’s hope he can get back to some middle ground.

Photo by Jay Anderson/Icon Sportswire

Kyle Horton

Kyle is a former Division 1 baseball player and Quinnipiac University alumni. Please follow him on Twitter @Hortonimo, he already told his mom that you did.

One response to “Should We Be Worried About Eugenio Suárez?”

  1. Charlie Mullen says:

    I think what’s missing from consideration is injuries. He was potentially going to miss the start of the season (preCOVID) with a shoulder injury, and now we see a 4 mph drop in exit velo.

    The year before, he had an end of may hand injury, and his exit velo dropped to 87.5 for the following month as he came back. Then it starts to come back in July (91), but in August he hurts his thumb and his exit velo drops a lot again (86 mph).

    I’m not going after him this year, but next year (assuming no more injuries) I’m going to be looking at buying low.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login