2016 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Candidate — Eugenio Suarez
It has hard being a fan of a rebuilding team. You know your team has no chance of competing and there is nothing worse than trying to psyche yourself up for something when you already know the outcome. That being said, there is always a silver lining in that cloud. With infinite holes comes infinite possibilities. Truth be told, the Reds aren’t chock full of holes. They have some good performers at some key spots on the diamond. A few spots will take a leap of faith though.
Looking back of rebuilding efforts by other teams, one of the fun things is when you find a diamond in the rough. That player becomes a cornerstone when you don’t expect it. We could count off countless examples from every team, but we’ll let each of you picture that guy. For the Reds, it could end up becoming Eugenio Suarez. Suarez actually debuted with the Tigers in 2014, but he got his first extended playing time last year when Zack Cozart went down for the season.
Now, he slides over to play third base. Fantasy baseball is one of those funny things because we don’t always live in reality. The reality is that he likely won’t play shortstop unless Cozart goes down again. Yet, he will eligible at shortstop in most leagues and will likely outrank Cozart in all of them. The whole idea of the breakout series was to identify the player that might help his team get to the playoffs. The Reds aren’t going to the playoffs, but Suarez could end up leading them to respectability.
Where he has been
There’s a lesson to be learned here somewhere. Fantasy baseball experts and players correctly focus on the draft as the single most important fantasy event of the year. A bad draft can set your team back for the entire season. That being said, there are countless opportunities every year to improve your team through the waiver wire. Suarez presented one of those opportunities last season. No one expected him to be a fantasy option last season, but there he was at the end of the season. He certainly wasn’t the best shortstop on the board or even one of the top ten, but in deeper leagues he certainly would have helped.
Some leagues employ a middle infielder in addition to a shortstop and second baseman. Other leagues have as many as 15 or 20 teams. In those leagues, Suarez almost certainly would have been a better option down the stretch than someone a team was employing. That goes doubly for this season because he almost certainly will get a chance to play every day from the get go.
What could be
Carlos Correa isn’t exactly shaking in his boots, but these numbers aren’t that bad for a shortstop. You cannot make it through a draft successfully unless you deemphasize at least one position. Fantasy players make sacrifices to get high quality players at as many positions as possible. If you find yourself missing out on the top shortstops, you could do a lot worse than Suarez late in the draft. Depending on your league, he might even last all the way through to the final rounds. ZIPS is projecting a full season’s worth of at bats as opposed to the other two. So, ZIPS might actually be a better rosy picture option and if Suarez could produce those numbers he could end up being a top ten shortstop in standard five category leagues.
A Rosy Picture
Keep in mind, the “rosy” picture above is nothing more than mathematically estimating his current level of production across 600 plate appearances. One of the fun things about young players is that they usually show some level of growth through their fourth or fifth season. There was huge growth between year one and year two for Suarez. A similar level of growth is not likely this season, but if it came we would be looking at a player hitting around 20 home runs or more.
Winning at fantasy baseball is as much about luck as it is about skill. However, teams can make their own luck by identifying a handful of players that could make the next step. Suarez isn’t likely to make that step based on his pedigree, but we’ve said that before on numerous occasions. If you pick him up on your bench the worst thing that can happen is that you have a steady performer that you can plug in at shortstop or third base in a pinch.