When the Cincinnati Reds traded for Eugenio Suarez over the winter it was hailed as he 9th best move of the offseason by Dave Cameron. It seemed that the acquisition of a young shortstop with big league service time, who outperformed Zack Cozart at the plate in 2014, was a sign that the team had found the guy to replace Cozart if he couldn’t get things turned around and rather quickly.

Spring training began and early on the manager said that there was no competition for the shortstop position and that Zack Cozart had the job, much to the dismay of many fans and experts alike after what transpired in the 2014 season. Cozart was coming off of arguably the worst offensive season in baseball, and while Suarez didn’t blow things out of the water with the Tigers, he was entering his age 23 season and coming off of a better big league campaign in 2014 than Cozart was. At the very least a competition during the spring was expected by nearly everyone.

Fast forward to the end of April and Zack Cozart had the best month of his life, hitting .280/.318/.500 with nine extra-base hits, including four homers. He hit four home runs all of last season. He’s continued his strong performance into May as well, currently with an OPS over 1.000 on the month.

For Suarez, things didn’t start out nearly as well. The shortstop hit just .213/.289/.387 in April with the Louisville Bats. He had seven extra-base hits, including three home runs to go along with seven walks and just 12 strikeouts. The approach was there, but the hits just weren’t falling. His batting average on balls in play on the month was just .217. For his career it’s been well over .300 in the minors and Majors.

The calendar flipped over to May and while the first day didn’t go so well (0-5), things have turned around ever since. In fifteen games in the month with the Bats, Suarez has hit .313/.452/.500. He’s had three doubles and two home runs to go along with 11 walks and 13 strikeouts.

The difference between the two months comes down to a few things. First, Suarez is both walking and striking out more often. Second is that his batting average on balls in play is much higher than in April, even higher than his career rates in past seasons.  Let’s take a look at his monthly splits and his overall numbers:

April 83 4 0 3 8.4% 14.5% .213 .289 .387 .217
May 64 3 0 2 17.2% 20.3% .313 .452 .500 .382
Total 147 7 0 5 12.2% 17.0% .252 .359 .431 .277

The walk rate more than doubled from April to May, which is always a very good sign. The batting average on balls in play jumped 165 points, which in itself doesn’t always mean much. Perhaps he is just having more luck on the ball finding the grass. Maybe he’s hitting the ball a little bit harder, though it’s not showing up in the power output as the isolated power was .164 in April and it’s .177 in May.

If we look at the overall line a few things jump out. First, the on-base percentage looks pretty good, but the average is a little lower than you’d like to see. Then we look over at his batting average on balls in play and see that it’s sitting at .277 on the season. Suarez has never had a number anywhere close to that low in his career at any stop. It’s going to continue to rise throughout the season, and as long as his walk rate, strikeout rate and power stay roughly where they are overall, he’s going to see all of his triple-slash numbers increase as well.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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