Elly De La Cruz is not the only Reds player battling early-season struggles

Fans have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Reds infielder during the first few games of the 2024 season.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

A lot of attention has been paid to Elly De La Cruz's early-season struggles. The 22-year-old shortstop has made his fair share of mistakes in both the batters' box and the field. De La Cruz leads all Cincinnati Reds hitters in strikeouts, though he does have a 13-game hitting streak.

More alarming at the outset of the 2024 season may be De La Cruz's defensive miscues. De La Cruz has four errors through the first week-plus of the season, and some could even argue that he should have an extra one or two added to the stat sheet.

But De La Cruz is not the only young Reds player struggling out of the chute. Both Will Benson and Christian Encarnacion-Strand have been equally as sluggish to start the 2024 season.

Elly De La Cruz is not the only Reds player battling early-season struggles

Benson finally got a day off during Sunday's series finale against the New York Mets. Reds manager David Bell had been giving Benson opportunities to prove himself against left-handed pitching, but decided to insert both Stuart Fairchild and Bubba Thompson into the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon. Benson is 1-for-7 against southpaws so far this season with four strikeouts and two walks.

But during the first eight games of the season, no one in the Reds lineup has struggled more than Encarnacion-Strand. The Reds first baseman is 5-for-35 (.143) with three extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts. The biggest concern, thus far, for Encarnacion-Strand is the fact that he's yet to draw a walk this season.

Of the 87 strikeouts recorded by the Reds in 2024, almost 45% have come courtesy of Encarnacion-Strand, Benson, and De La Cruz. Strikeouts are part of the game, especially for power hitters like the aforementioned trio. According to Baseball Savant, Encarnacion-Strand, Benson, and De La Cruz are the top-3 on the team in terms of average exit velocity. Benson leads the Reds in hard-hit rate.

There's reason to believe that all three players will turn things around, and perhaps the day off for Benson will help the Reds outfielder to hit the reset button before Monday's visit from the Milwaukee Brewers.

The injuries to Matt McLain and TJ Friedl, as well as the suspension of Noelvi Marte, have sabotaged Bell's original plan heading into the 2024 season. Reds Country is hopeful that the team's top sluggers cut down on the strikeouts and start sending balls into the seats. Both Encarnacion-Strand and Benson have one home run this season, while De La Cruz has yet to clear the fences.

More Reds News from Blog Red Machine