Impact of slugging Mariners 3B Eugenio Suárez can’t be overlooked
Jun 6, 2022, 3:36 PM | Updated: 3:46 pm
(AP Photo/LM Otero)
The Mariners are trying to will their way back out of a hole they dug in late April and early May, and they made a significant move in the right direction with a series win over the weekend in Texas.
Seattle’s two wins in the three-game set were both dramatic, and neither would have happened without the bat of veteran slugger Eugenio Suárez.
Down a run in the ninth inning Friday, Suárez blasted a two-run shot that brought the M’s back from the brink and lifted them to a 4-3 win. Then on Sunday, the Mariners clawed back from a 5-2 deficit with three runs in the ninth, including two to tie the game on a double by Suárez that scored Julio Rodríguez and J.P. Crawford. Seattle went on to win 6-5 in 10 innings.
Entering a new series Monday in Houston, Suárez has an eight-game hitting streak, and for the season he leads the Mariners with 11 home runs. Maybe that last part isn’t too much of a surprise considering Suárez has the most homers of anybody in the game since 2018, but the fact that the former Cincinnati Reds All-Star is doing so while maintaining a 133 OPS+ and playing strong defense at third base is huge for Seattle.
BYE BYE 👋 pic.twitter.com/7FS00SQsz1
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 5, 2022
This kind of impact wasn’t expected when the Mariners acquired him along with fellow All-Star Jesse Winker in a trade with the Reds during spring training, as Seattle Sports’ Stacy Rost explained in telling a story from a conversation with Curtis Rogers, the producer of Jake and Stacy, on Monday morning.
“I never, ever thought that when the trade for Winker and Suárez was made that on this day, June 6, 2022, Curtis would turn to us and say, ‘Imagine where the team would be without Eugenio Suárez,'” Rost said. “If we’re going to talk about how the (Mariners) should have done more in the offseason, and I will die on that hill and I’ll never change my mind, you’ve also got to point to areas where (general manager) Jerry Dipoto did a good thing, and one of them was bringing in Eugenio Suárez. You have to say, ‘Credit to you for this.'”
Jake Heaps, Rost’s co-host on Jake and Stacy, pointed to how Suárez has answered a big question mark for Seattle, and that’s filling the hole left by previous third baseman Kyle Seager.
“One of the things that you wanted with Suárez is to legitimately replace the production of Kyle Seager, and that’s what Suárez has done,” Heaps said. “I mean, he’s hit 11 home runs, he’s just five RBIs underneath Ty France (for the team lead) at 32, and yeah, he is somebody who who strikes out a lot… but also Kyle Seager, isn’t that what a lot of his game was?”
Strikeouts have always been a part the package with Suárez, who led the National League with 49 homers in 2019 while also striking out an MLB-high 189 times. He’s striking out just as much this year (he leads the American League with 71), but the risk-reward of that is paying off so far for the Mariners, especially since his glove and arm in the field have been better than advertised.
“He’s been great. He’s been very good,” Heaps said. “And I’m sorry, I have not seen the same bad play at third base that a lot of people try to proclaim. Has Suárez made some mistakes this year? Yeah, he has. But overall, he has not been a negative over there at third base. Not even close to it. He’s played good, solid third base for you, and I think that he has been everything that (the Mariners) were hoping he would be.”
Heaps has hope that Suárez is just getting started with his hitting streak, too.
“In my opinion, we have not seen Suárez get hot yet, and he has every ability to be one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. You look at his 2019 season, he’s one of the best power hitters in all of baseball. So he has that ability in him and we have not seen him up to this point go on a hot streak, and that would be so much fun to watch, but maybe in the month of June you start to see that happen. If Suárez kept this level of play and just raised his batting average, if he was sitting around .250, man, he would check every single box off for me, but he is bringing a legitimate contribution to this team.”
You can listen to the full conversation in the final segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.