5 Reds players who are putting up eye-catching numbers this spring

These numbers will grab your attention.

Cincinnati Reds catcher Luke Maile rounds the bases
Cincinnati Reds catcher Luke Maile rounds the bases / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Spring training is nearing its end, which means Opening Day is just around the corner. Though most of the players who've made the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster have been told, there are still a handful of spots up for grabs.

Spring stats need to be taken with a grain of salt, but it can be the difference between a player making the cut or being sent to the unemployment line. Let's face it, if Josh Harrison was hitting .350, he'd probably be on the Reds Opening Day roster. Instead, Harrison exercised his opt-out and is trying to latch on with a new team.

So while some of the numbers being put up during Cactus League play can be seen as a bit of a mirage, they can still give managers and coaches indications about what's to come during the regular season. Here are some eye-popping stats from Reds spring training.

Elly De La Cruz leads the Reds in hits, but also in Ks

It's going to be an interesting season for Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz. After getting his feet wet in the major leagues last season, De La Cruz enters 2024 with increased expectations. De La Cruz has unmatched physical gifts, and if he can harness them, the Reds infielder could easily be in the MVP conversation. He's that good.

De La Cruz leads the Reds this spring with 11 hits. The 22-year-old set the baseball world on fire with this blazing-fast speed and unmitigated power. Of De La Cruz's 11 base knocks, five have gone for extra-bases.

But De La Cruz's old friend has come with him this spring as well. Last year's rookie also leads the Reds in strikeouts with 14 Ks this spring. That's a little more than one per game, and something that Reds fans hope to see De La Cruz iron out as the season goes along.

However, strikeouts are likely to always be a part of De La Cruz's game. And when he's got a .333 batting average and .421 on-base percentage, those strikeouts become much easier to ignore.

Luke Maile leads the Reds in slugging percentage

Move over CES, there's a new slugger in town. Luke Maile has brought the lumber to the yard this summer, and the Cincinnati faithful are hopeful that the catcher's newfound power is something that carries over to the regular season.

Maile owns a 1.045 slugging percentage. Read that again. That's not Maile's OPS, but his slugging percentage. The veteran backstop is 8-for-16 this spring and more than half of Maile's hits have gone for extra bases. Add in Tyler Stephenson's .853 OPS, and the Reds might have a pair of boppers behind the plate in 2024.

Reds slugger Christian Encarnacion-Strand has three triples this spring

Raise your hand if you thought Christian Encarnacion-Strand would be leading the Reds in triples this spring. Anyone with their hand up is lying. Reds fans would've believed that De La Cruz, Stuart Fairchild, or one of the other burners on this year's team would be leading the way with triples, but it's CES.

Encarnacion-Strand has that same type of insane power that De La Cruz possess. When most fans think of CES, they think homers, not triples. But if Encarnacion-Strand has those types of wheels, then the rest of the league just got put on notice.

According to Baseball Savant, Encarnacion-Strand's sprint speed (27.6 ft/ sec.) was in the middle of the pack in 2023. So while Encarnacion-Strand may not have blazing speed, he still leads the team in an a rather unique category for a player with his raw talents.

Hunter Greene leads the Reds in free passes & strikeouts

Hunter Greene has been tinkering with adding that third offering, so let's not overreact to the Reds starting pitcher leading the team in walks. However, it's definitely something to keep an eye once the regular season begins.

Greene's nine free passes are more than twice as many as the No. 2 player on that list, Graham Ashcraft. Working in Greene's favor, unsurprisingly, is the fact that he also leads the team in strikeouts.

If Greene is able to fully commit to a third pitch, he'll begin to see results. As a starter, you cannot just rely on the a two-pitch mix and survive more than three innings. The hitters at this level are just too good. If Greene's high number of walks are linked to his developing curveball, so be it. If it's a sign of things to come in 2024, Reds fans will become quite anxious.

The Reds Opening Day starter has given up the most HRs

Unfortunately, Frankie Montas has struggled to keep the ball in the yard this spring. Montas leads all Reds pitchers in home runs surrendered. To be fair, outside of Montas' brief 1.1 innings of work with the New York Yankees in 2023, the right-hander hadn't pitched in a major league game since 2022.

Outside of the 2020 season with the Oakland Athletics, Montas has generally done a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark. That season saw Montas' home run to fly ball ratio approach almost 18%. His career average, according to FanGraphs, is just 12.6%.

But pitching for the Reds with half your games in the bandbox that is Great American Ball Park will see plenty of round-trippers for the opposition. Reds fans are hoping that Montas can keep the big flies to a minimum in 2024.

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