Suárez on 2021: 'I'm going for 50 homers'

Re-energized and leaner, Reds third baseman says 'this is going to be my year'

February 24th, 2021

So much about the 2020 season was different with no fans in the ballparks and, for some, no family in town. Few on the Reds felt this was missing more than third baseman , who endured a down year of offensive production.

“For me, it was harder because my family wasn’t with me. I wanted my family back, I wanted that support, and I wanted the fan support,” Suárez said from Spring Training on Wednesday. “When you watch it back, my last year wasn’t good. I don’t feel happy about last year. Talking about myself, not the team. We made the playoffs and everything. But especially on myself, I’m better than that. I’m not a .200 hitter.”

In 57 games, Suárez batted .202/.312/.470 with 15 home runs, 38 RBIs and a 102 OPS+. But those numbers came after he began by batting .118 with two homers and 25 strikeouts in 82 plate appearances over the first 20 games.

Suárez was able to get fan cutouts of his family in the seats, and it made him feel a little bit better. He eventually was able to take paternity time to be home in South Florida when his wife gave birth to their second child.

Once the season ended, Suárez rededicated himself to getting better and stronger physically. He dropped 15 pounds by cutting beef, pasta, rice and beer from his diet and staying with chicken, fish and quinoa. He was noticeably leaner to the club when he arrived at camp.

“Right now, I feel so good, I feel like my body feels very good, my energy is high,” Suárez said. “This is a new version of myself. I’m working so hard in the offseason that I want to see what the hard work brings to me. I believe this is going to be my year. This is going to be a better year than last year.”

Suárez, 29, also doesn’t have the issue of a shoulder rehab. He needed left shoulder surgery on Jan. 28, 2020, to remove loose cartilage following an accident at his pool. The shoulder is completely healed and stable.

“My body feels strong right now, I feel so healthy, and I want to keep it and I don’t want to lose my power,” he said. “Even if I lose weight, I don’t feel that I’ll lose my power. My power is there, and I feel healthy.”

It was an odd statistical season for Suárez in 2020. He had a BABIP of .214, nearly 100 points below his career .310. His barrel rate of 14 percent was a career best and ranked 16th in the Majors overall. He also had an expected slugging percentage of .522, 52 points over his actual slugging percentage.

Reds manager David Bell plans to keep Suárez in the middle of the order. He most often batted fourth last season.

“He does a lot of damage. When he puts the ball in play, it usually leads to runs,” Bell said. “The expectations are high, and the best players and the great players, they continue to rise to the occasion. It's not easy. It says a lot about Geno. He's definitely someone on our team that plays that part and has done it very successfully for several years now.”

During his All-Star 2018 season, Suárez hit 34 homers and had a career-best 136 OPS+. Two seasons ago, he slugged a career-high 49 home runs -- also a record for Venezuelan Major Leaguers -- while batting .271/.358/.572 with 103 RBIs and 132 OPS+.

“This year, my goal is to break my own record,” Suárez said. "This year in 2021, I hope, and I believe and I feel it’s going to be a special year for me. I’m going for 50 homers. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I will go for 50.”