Elly De La Cruz has endured a difficult stretch of late. The Cincinnati Reds rookie is hitting just .167 in the month of September and has only one extra-base hit. De La Cruz has not gone deep since August 23rd.
With all that being said, there have been some positives over the past two weeks. De La Cruz has become much more patient at the plate. Since the calendar flipped to September, De La Cruz has cut down on the strikeouts and drawn considerably more walks.
But it's been De La Cruz's glove, not his bat that's been more concerning of late. Since Jonathan India landed on the IL at the end of July, and with Matt McLain currently out of the lineup, De La Cruz has been the Reds starting shortstop. The results have been less than stellar.
Elly De La Cruz's defensive miscues are more concerning than his struggles at the plate.
Elly De La Cruz was splitting time with Matt McLain at shortstop earlier this season while also getting plenty of reps at third base. Since August 3rd, however, every single one of De La Cruz's starts have come at shortstop.
In that time, De La Cruz has committed 10 errors. De La Cruz has totaled a dozen errors on the season, and only one has come with him playing third base. Think about that for a minute. De La Cruz has 12 errors on the season and 83.3-percent of the miscues have come over the last six weeks.
Now I know that fielding percentage is a rather antiquated statistic in the eyes of some fans, but a .950 FLD% for a shortstop is not good. Furthermore, when De La Cruz is manning the hot corner, that percentage jumps to .986.
For those who are into the advanced metrics, according to FanGraphs, Elly De La Cruz has -1 defensive runs saved while playing shortstop and -6.5 UZR/150. In terms of outs above average, De La Cruz is worth 3 OAA at both shortstop and third base according to Baseball Savant.
De La Cruz is a phenomenal talent who is not short on physical gifts. And at 21 years old, he is extremely raw. Given his age and rookie status, Reds fans should expect somewhat of a learning curve - but at the plate, not in the field.
Too many times De La Cruz has ventured out into the outfield to make a catch rather than allowing the left fielder to the make the routine play. There's also been numerous occasions of late where De La Cruz has failed to secure the ball in his glove in what seems to be an otherwise easy play.
This isn't a call to bench Elly De La Cruz and call up Jose Barrero. Nor is it a suggestion that De La Cruz needs to be moved to the outfield (though that's not the worst idea). But, De La Cruz has a lot to work on during the offseason if he wants to live up to the tremendous hype that's followed him since his major league debut.