Reds fans' early-season frustration turns to jubilation as Elly De La Cruz breaks out

We all owe Elly De La Cruz an apology.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

Those strikeouts and errors don't look so bad now, huh? Elly De La Cruz was the focus of Reds Country's ire during the first week-plus of the 2024 season. Last year's rookie was off to a rough start, despite a 13-game hitting streak stretching back to last season.

De La Cruz was misplaying balls up the middle and striking out at an alarming rate. After seeing the 22-year-old make the same type of mistakes he did in 2023, Reds fans were buckling up for could be a long season.

But De La Cruz reminded everyone just how talented he is with an epic performance on Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. The infielder went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and two home runs, including an inside-the-parker. It took 10 games (which really isn't that many), but De La Cruz finally broke out in 2024.

Reds SS Elly De La Cruz silences critics with titanic blast and inside-the-park home run

A lot is expected of De La Cruz, and with the injuries to TJ Friedl and Matt McLain, plus the suspension of Noelvi Marte, Reds fans probably lump even more expectations onto the shoulder of their budding star.

The Cincinnati faithful can see the potential, but grow frustrated when the same mistakes that plagued De La Cruz over the second-half of the 2023 season seem to reemerge. Such is the case when a young player enters the league and is essentially learning on the fly.

De La Cruz's tantalizing skillset has Reds fans dreaming about what could be; not just in 2024, but for the next several seasons. Some have opined, as we're all prone to do, that a position change is in order. Fans argue that De La Cruz is too big to play the shortstop position. There are times when that argument holds water, but then you'll see a play that only De La Cruz can make, and marvel at his supreme athletic ability.

De La Cruz's power didn't show up until Monday's game. But when it did, De La Cruz brought all of it. According to Baseball Savant, the home run De La Cruz hit in the fifth inning came off the bat at 112.3 mph and travelled 450 feet. You can't teach that.

More impressive, perhaps, was the inside-the-park home run he hit in the seventh inning. De La Cruz golfed a pitch into shallow center field, and once the Brewers' centerfielder Sal Frelick misplayed it, the Reds shortstop was off to the races. De La Cruz flew around the bases and slid safely into home plate in 14.96 seconds. You can't teach that either.

Are there going to be game in the future where De La Cruz flails at pitches outside the strike zone and later commits two errors? Yes. But Monday's game against the Brewers was a stark reminder of just how talented De La Cruz truly is. Though watching a young player like De La Cruz can be frustrating at times, there will also be plenty of games in which fans marvel at his immense talents. Enjoy the ride, Reds fans.

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