The Cincinnati Reds fanbase had very low expectations for their favorite team in 2023. The previous season had seen the Reds jettison their top two starting pitchers, the franchise icon undergo major surgery, and a slew of injuries befall the club's top two returning players from the the year before.
But a group of young and hungry prospects helped to change the narrative last season. Elly De La Cruz brought excitement, Matt McLain brought consistency, and Spencer Steer bought power back to the Queen City. While the Reds ultimately fell a few games short of the MLB Postseason, last year's team laid the groundwork for what many fans believe will be a contending club in 2024.
But with increased expectations can come increased disappointment if those lofty goals aren't met. Does Reds Country have some unattainable expectations attached to some of Cincinnati's young stars? Which players will struggle to meet the increased expectations heaped onto this year's squad?
1. Noelvi Marte
Noelvi Marte gave Reds fans a glimpse last season. The former Seattle Mariners farmhand received a late-season call-up, and after a brief struggle, became one of the most consistent bats in the Cincinnati Reds lineup.
Marte closed out his 2023 campaign with a 16-game hitting streak while posting a slash line of .316/.366/.456 while racking up three round-trippers, 15 RBI, six stolen bases, and an OPS+ of 120. By all accounts, Marte would seem to be the odds-on favorite to line up at the hot corner on Opening Day for the Reds.
But are fans putting too much stock into what everyone saw at the end of last season? Don't forget, Elly De La Cruz burst onto scene during the month of June only to fizzle out over the second-half of his rookie season. Could the same fate be on the horizon for Marte during what will be his first full season in the major leagues?
Cincinnati signed Jeimer Candelario this offseason, and while it was a curious signing to be sure, perhaps the Reds front office were hedging their bets in the event that Marte struggled in 2024. While the 22-year-old looks to be a cornerstone for Cincinnati moving forward, the fanbase's expectations might be a bit too high for such a young player.