ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks’ Eugenio Suarez has recent history of overcoming slow starts

Jun 19, 2024, 9:19 AM

Eugenio Suarez...

Eugenio Suarez #28 of the Arizona Diamondbacks prepares for a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Chase Field on June 13, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks are hoping for history to repeat itself with third baseman Eugenio Suarez.

There has been a trend with Suarez over the past three seasons to find a groove after a very slow start at the plate, and his first two months-plus with the D-backs have followed a similar pattern.

Among 151 qualified hitters, Suarez entered Wednesday with the ninth-lowest OPS at .612 and 11th-lowest slug at .328. A usual 25-30-home run player is still at six this season without missing any time to injury.

The organization is aware Suarez has overcome tough starts and put up respectable final numbers. President and CEO Derrick Hall referenced it last week on Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta.

Manager Torey Lovullo has started to split third base reps roughly five starts for Suarez to two for Blaze Alexander in a given week.

“I referenced that to him, and I told him I was going to ride it out with him. We’re going to wait for that time to come,” Lovullo said. “But we talk about shortening gaps here. Instead of a 1-for-25, let’s go 2-for-12 with a couple walks and some sacrifice flies in there. Whatever you can do to just save that at-bat or two and get an extra hit in there by being stubborn when you’re not feeling your best.

“Those are the conversations I’ve had with him. I think he’s in a pretty good spot right now. … He’s had a lot of good results lately, and we’re going to wait for that .800 OPS show up. I know it’s in there.”

Eugenio Suarez’s past turnarounds

2023

Suarez played all 162 games for the Seattle Mariners, but through his first 62 (through June 9), he was slashing .206/.306/.316. He had six home runs for a pretty similar stat line as he has now.

The veteran started putting it together to close out June. By July he was humming (.821 OPS for the month).

For the final 100 games, Suarez slashed .249/.333/.438 with 16 home runs. Far from his best season but workable, especially paired with much improved defense and his renowned clubhouse presence. His strikeouts actually went up from 28.6% early to 32%, but he was much more impactful driving the baseball for a Mariners team that battled for a postseason spot.

2022

Suarez’s stallout did not last as long in 2022, and perhaps you could chalk it up to adjusting in a new environment. The Cincinnati Reds had just traded Suarez to Seattle after seven seasons, two vastly different home ballparks to hit in.

The third baseman slashed .198/.296/.395 with three home runs in his first 23 games (through May 3). That was the last time he sat below the .200 batting average mark.

For the rest of the season, Suarez put up a strong line of .243/.339/.471 with 28 home runs. He was downright dominant over the final two months with an .893 OPS and 15 homers. Only Aaron Judge in his pursuit of 62 had more home runs in that span.

Suarez led the Mariners in big flies as they ended baseball’s longest postseason drought. In the process, he became a fan favorite in Seattle.

2021

Suarez’s last year with the Reds also started off cold like Cincinnati in April. But this time, it extended deep into the year.

His slash line in his first 120 games of the season (through August): .169/.255/.363 with 23 home runs.

He failed to get the batting average up over .200 but made up a lot of ground in September. He had the MLB’s best OPS at 1.268 (minimum 50 plate appearances) along with eight homers from the start of September.

What does this mean for Eugenio Suarez this season?

This is not to say he is guaranteed to break out of this any day now. The Diamondbacks have some urgency as they fight to climb back over .500 and for NL Wild Card positioning despite a plethora of injuries.

They have options, too. Geraldo Perdomo is back at shortstop, allowing Lovullo to deploy infielders Kevin Newman and Alexander in other roles. Alexander started Arizona’s game on Sunday against the White Sox at third. Top prospect Jordan Lawlar was getting reps at third base in the minors before suffering a hamstring injury on Saturday.

Plus, the D-backs have a roster decision to make when outfielder Alek Thomas returns from the injured list as soon as next week, and there is no obvious solution.

Suarez has had some better results of late. He is 4-for-9 with five walks and a hit-by-pitch over his last four games played.

If he can finish this season with similar figures as last year, the D-backs will have a very good hitter the rest of the way. But the runway is not indefinite.

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