It's been almost a year to the day since the Seattle Mariners acquired the elite slugger from Cincinnati. No, I'm not talking about Eugenio Suarez, I'm talking about Jesse Winker. On March 14th, 2022 the Mariners thought they were getting an all-star slugger in Jesse Winker, while taking on the ugly contract of Suarez to help lower the prospect cost. Fast forward a year, and it was impossible to imagine Winker returning to Seattle, while it's impossible to imagine this team making a run without Suarez, who's become a major piece of this core.
Eugenio Suarez was voted as #9 on the 2023 Mariners.
Geno's journey has been like a rollercoaster the past few years. From 2017-2019 Suarez was an all-star and borderline MVP candidate. His average OPS+ over that 3-year span was 127 and he averaged over 36 home runs, with a 49 burger in 2019. Ascending into his prime, his career took a free fall. While the Reds made the playoffs in the shortened 2020 season, Suarez saw his batting average drop from .272 to .202 and his OPS+ fall from 131 to 100. 2021 was even worse, as injuries and a complete disregard for plate discipline led to Suarez being considered an albatross in Cincinnati.
While the Winker/Suarez trade didn’t work out exactly the way Jerry Dipoto and Justin Hollander expected, it was still a success. Suarez had an inconsistent start with the Mariners, continuing to struggle with his plate discipline, but as the season progressed, you could see the Mariners vision for “controlling the zone” take shape. On May 16th, Suarez was slashing .203/.310/.415 with 7 home runs, and before his injury on September 14th, Suarez had raised his numbers to .235/.335/.470 with 24 home runs during that 106 game stretch. These numbers seem to fall in line with his season totals, where he produced a 3.9 WAR, a 129 OPS+, and excellent defense at 3rd base.
While his performance during this 106 game looks like that of a fringe all-star, it was the final 24 games of the season that should have Seattle fans ecstatic about what Geno has in store for 2024. From August 17th to September 14th, Suarez was arguably the best player in baseball, going 26 for 98, good for a .265 average as well as 23 RBI’s and Barry Bonds like 12 home runs in 24 games. Now, I obviously don’t expect Geno to hit 81 home runs in 2024, but Geno went from being an all-star level player to a legitimate MVP talent heading into October before his hand injury limited him for the rest of the stretch run.
I believe that there is evidence we will see a Geno Suarez that is in the middle of his 106 game good run and his 24 game heater towards the end of the season. The strikeouts were a problem, he led the league in them, but with a deeper lineup with guys like Ty France, Cal Raleigh, or Teoscar Hernandez likely surrounding him in the lineup, Geno will strike out less and get on base more. I believe an all-star season, and 40+ home runs to go with an average closer to .240 is realistic for Suarez this season.
The vibes are always good with Eugenio Suarez. He's clearly not just a player primed for a great season, but he and Julio Rodriguez have taken have become the heart and soul of this new era of Mariners baseball. Don’t be surprised if we look back at this #9 ranking for Geno in October and laugh after he puts up a monster season and gets the Mariners deep into October.
Not too bad for a throw in, eh?