We can be technical and acknowledge that Eugenio Suarez played his first game slightly over a month ago and that he currently has 29 MLB games played, neither of which equate to “a month,” but stop being so pedantic and getting hung up on titles of blog posts. That’s not a good look on you. What is looking good, however, is Suarez’s stat line through 100 or so plate appearances. What do we know so far?
Let’s start with the basic numbers. In 102 plate appearances he’s hitting .273/.347/.432 (.346 wOBA, 117 wRC+) with a 9.8 BB% and 24.5 K%. He’s at 0.3 BsR and -1 DRS and 0.2 UZR. The whole package is a tidy 0.8 fWAR in about a month of work. If Suarez was exactly this player for a full season, that’s good for about 4.5 WAR. Suarez probably isn’t that good, but that’s totally okay. Not many players are that good.
The scouting report on Suarez’s defense was that he was good enough to stay up the middle and has the arm for short. He’s no Iglesias, but the predominant opinion is that he can handle the position. He’s not an elite runner, but he’s not lumbering either. Both of these reports line up with what we’ve seen visually and in the numbers so far.
So the question with Suarez is the bat…duh. It’s always the hit tool. Scouts always liked his approach and the difference between a good player and a utility profile was going to be how well he squared up the pitches he decided to attack. So far the walks look about right and the strikeouts are only a touch above what you’d think for a guy that gets into deep counts without an elite contact ability.
If you look at his minor league batting lines, you’re expecting right around the player you’re seeing right now. About 9-10 BB%, 20+ K%, high BABIP, decent pop for a SS. A guy’s stats probably shouldn’t translate directly, but the shape of the line is plausible.
The projections aren’t buying it yet and see him as a .290 wOBA guy instead of .340. That’s a world of difference. One is a fringe starter/back up and one is a star. I think the projections are too pessimistic here, but that’s their nature. I don’t think .340 is very likely but if he’s a .320 wOBA guy that would be terrific. He has enough power, discipline, and BABIP skills for that to work for me. I wouldn’t expect a great bat, but I think it’s good enough to keep him in a starting role, although long term that’s probably at 3B or LF for the Tigers, but a lot can happen.
Granted, these are just initial impressions, but I think Suarez can handle himself in the majors. We’ll revisit this again once we’ve had a longer look, but given what the Tigers were trying at SS for the first two months, this is fantastic.