Suarez much improved defensively at 3B

Entering Tuesday's game, Reds' third baseman yet to commit error in 2017

April 25th, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- The defense that Reds third baseman has displayed in the season's first month has been nothing short of impressive. That was something few would have said a year ago.

In 2016, Suarez led Major League third basemen with 23 errors, but 12 of them came over his first 53 games. Entering Tuesday, the 25-year-old has yet to make an error. At the plate, Suarez also entered Tuesday batting .343/.429/.687, tied for the team lead with five home runs.

"I don't think anyone can confuse how well Suarez is playing third base with where he was this time last year," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's just been sensational. That's a guy who I think has made the biggest leap defensively, having to learn a new position and the footwork, the throwing angles and all of that stuff."

Suarez was converting from shortstop to third base before last season and played full time in the big leagues for the first time.

Suarez came into the day leading Major League third basemen in defensive WAR (2.4), ultimate zone rating (2.3) and second in defensive runs saved (three) -- all according to FanGraphs.

"When you work hard, the results will be there," Suarez said. "That's what I do every day, try to be better, because I know how important defense is when we have young guys pitching. When we get ground balls, we have to make the routine plays and the outstanding plays."

Besides the good stats, Suarez's ability has passed the eye test, as well. He's made several nice backhanded stops near the line and his throws have been accurate and on time.

"His arm strength, a lot of times you see that backhand at deep third base and then a quick shuffle and that ball is on its way with some hair on it," Price said.

"I'm getting my feet in the right position. I move my feet up quick and try to make those plays," Suarez said.

Offensively, according to Statcast™, Suarez's expected batting average (xBA), which is based on exit velocity and launch angle, is .350 and tied with the Braves' Freddie Freeman for the best in the Majors. He's also third (.457) in xwOBA, behind only Freeman (.509) and the Tigers' (.467).