To start the 2020 season, Eugenio Suarez looked flat out awful. At the beginning of August, I wrote an article about Eugenio Suarez as an almost benchwarmer. So, what do we make of Eugenio Suarez, the slugger who underperformed in 2020? Through the first month or so, Suarez totaled eight home runs, 17 runs, 19 RBI, and two steals while slashing .185/.302/.412. In almost a full month of September, Suarez hit seven home runs, 12 runs, 19 RBI, and zero steals with a triple slash of .228/.326/.557. He matched his RBI total and almost matched his home run total in the first half. Suarez’s slash line also increased in the second half that boosted his end of season statistics.
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Eugenio Suarez, The Slugger Who Underperformed in 2020
What Happened in 2020?
Over the full 2020 season, Suarez logged 15 home runs, 29 runs, and 38 RBI with a slash line of .202/.312/.470. It’s safe to call Eugenio Suarez the slugger who underperformed in 2020 as he didn’t perform as expected after monster 2018 and 2019 seasons. With that, let’s compare Suarez’s 2018 and 2019 season on the surface.
Initially, the slash line stands out with the batting average and on-base percentage looking almost like Rougned Odor type numbers. If we estimate a full season’s worth of plate appearances and pace out the counting stats for Eugenio Suarez, we end up with similar numbers. In roughly 635 plate appearances, he potentially finishes with 41 home runs, 80 runs, 104 RBI, and a little over five steals. Granted, Suarez likely experiences ups and downs throughout the season, similar to his start to 2020. However, the slash line in 2020 looks the most concerning. So, what happened to Eugenio Suarez in 2020?
Batted Ball Profile
Over the past three years, there’s a noticeable downwards trend in Suarez’s line drive rate with the lowest percentages in 2020. From 2018-2020, his line drive rate went from 24.6% in 2018, 21.7% in 2019, and 18.2% in 2020. His ground ball rate also dropped about 2% each year down to 34.8% in 2020. However, Suarez’s fly ball rate gradually increased from 37.1% in 2018, 42.3% in 2019, and 47% in 2020. He typically displayed the pull-heavy approach, especially with a 52% pull rate in 2019 and 54.5% in 2020. In 2020, Suarez’s 24.2% HR/FB rate finished close to his 23.4% HR/FB rate in 2018. We’ll also note here that unsurprisingly, his .214 BABIP falls in line with the drop in batting average in comparison to a .322 BABIP in 2018 and .312 BABIP in 2019.
Before we dive into plate discipline, let’s note that Suarez increased his 13% walk rate in 2020 from identical 10.6% walk rates in 2018 and 2019. His 29% strikeout rate in 2020 gradually increased over the past three seasons but hovered close to his 28.5% strikeout rate in 2019. In terms of plate discipline, a few notable differences include a slight dip in swing percentage and contact rate but a slight increase in swinging-strike rate.
Suarez finished with a 41.6% swing rate in 2020, down from 44.4% in 2019. He also ended with a 70.7% contact rate down from 73.1% in 2019 and made almost 2% less contact (82.7%) inside of the zone. The lowered swing rate makes sense with the increased walk rate, and the decreased contact rate also aligns with the lowered BABIP and batting average.
Next, let’s dig into his Statcast data. Interestingly, Suarez performed similarly or better across the board. In 2020, he finished with a 14.4% barrel rate (91st percentile), 89.1 mph average exit velocity (55th percentile), and 44.7% hard-hit rate (78th percentile). Suarez’s barrel rate and hard-hit rate finished higher than 2019, with a slight difference in percentile rankings.
The average exit velocity ranked almost identical to 2019, and his 94.2 mph average exit velocity on FB/LD (No. 96) finished higher than 2018 and 2019. Seeing the average exit velocity on FB/LD gradually increase over the past three seasons tells us that Suarez holds legitimate power. The table below shows the different categories and trends over the last three seasons.
It looks like 2018 rates as an outlier across the board, particularly with the percentile rankings for the average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. However, the barrel rate increased, and the hard-hit rate finished similar to the career-high hard-hit rate in 2018. As expected with the down season and dreadful slash line, Suarez’s expected stats also significantly dipped compared to 2018 and 2019.
It’s alarming to see the gradual decline in expected stats for Suarez, and hopefully, that evens out with more time in a full season. A two-year track record from 2018-2019 for Suarez averaging 41 home runs, 83 runs, and 103 RBI with a triple slash of .277/.362/.550 provides us reasons for hope moving forward.
Pitch Type Struggles
Typically, Eugenio Suarez crushed fastballs, but he struggled against fastballs in 2020. Let’s look at the fastball struggles for Eugenio Suarez, the slugger who underperformed in 2020. With notable differences across the board, monitor Suarez in 2021 if he continues to struggle against fastballs. Again with the track record, I’ll show patience before souring on Suarez.
2021 Outlook for Eugenio Suarez, The Slugger Who Underperformed in 2020
What’s the 2021 outlook for Eugenio Suarez, the slugger who underperformed in 2020? Suarez had a 73.51 ADP on NFBC with a high pick of 13 and a low pick of 133. In our #Fantrax2021Mock, I drafted Suarez at pick 63 since I still believe in the skills after a down season. However, I anticipate that fantasy managers can wait a little longer since the slash line looks worrisome. As mentioned earlier, Suarez paced for a similar amount of home runs, runs, and RBI in a full season. In 2019 and 2020 combined, Suarez ranked 31st with a .368 wOBA and 35th with a 125 wRC+. Thus, swoop in on any ADP value with Suarez’s legitimate power and run-producing ability.
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