Elly De La Cruz sat for the entire game on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins. The Cincinnati Reds rookie was replaced in the starting lineup by Noelvi Marte after really struggling since the All-Star break.
De La Cruz has hit the proverbial rookie wall. After a blazing fast start to his rookie campaign that saw the 21-year-old record the first cycle since Eric Davis in 1989, steal home against the Milwaukee Brewers, and stretch would-be doubles into triples, De La Cruz has fallen back to earth.
Sadly, there are some through the Reds fanbase that have seen De La Cruz's struggles and made a rather unfair comparison to former Cincinnati outfielder Aristides Aquino. Sorry, but those comparisons are just not accurate.
Stop comparing Elly De La Cruz to former Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino.
I get it, okay? I can understand how some fans see how quickly both Elly De La Cruz and Aristides Aquino burst onto the scene only to watch the shine come off rather quickly. To be honest, Aquino's first month of his major league career was actually much more impressive than what we've seen from De La Cruz.
People forget how good Aquino was during August of 2019. The Punisher hit .320/.391/.767 with 14 home runs and 32 RBI. De La Cruz's first month saw the rookie post a slash line of .308/.348/.490 with three homers and 13 RBI.
But there's one major difference between De La Cruz's first month in the big leagues and Aquino's, and frankly that's the age at which they debuted. De La Cruz was, and still is, just 21 years old. Aquino was 25 when hit the scene in 2019. Furthermore, the Reds thought so little of Aquino that he was non-tendered the year before his breakout performance.
Comparing Elly De La Cruz's minor league stats to Aristides Aquino's tells the story.
Now, both Elly De La Cruz and Aristides Aquino showcased their raw tools during their time in the minor leagues. De La Cruz and Aquino both had massive power and tremendous arm strength, but De La Cruz was a much better hitter during his time in the minors.
Aquino spent 779 games in the minor leagues before becoming a regular in the Reds lineup. De La Cruz spent just 262 games in the minors before being called up this June. The minor leagues are where you cut your teeth, and while there may be some argument to be made that the Reds called up De La Cruz too early, the stats speak for themselves.
De La Cruz's batting average during his time in the minors (.298) was 50 points better than Aquino's (.248). De La Cruz struck out a lot (29.0-percent K-rate), but Aquino's strikeout-rate of 59.7-percent during his minor league career is out of his world. De La Cruz's .358 on-base percentage is also 51 points higher than Aquino's.
Reds rookie Elly De La Cruz is far from a finished product.
There is no doubt that Elly De La Cruz has a lot to work on this offseason. Reds fans have seen struggles at the dish and in the field. Maybe we all bought into the hype a little bit too soon, which is easy to do when every single media outlet plasters De La Cruz's face all over the screen.
It's become cliché, but it's true, De La Cruz is just 21 years old. He's only scratching the surface of what could be a phenomenal career. Don't forget that these other Reds rookies who are having success like Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Matt McLain, and Spencer Steer are two, three, and even four years older than De La Cruz.
Reds fans just witnessed a dominant performance from Hunter Greene on Wednesday. After his rookie season, there were those who thought he wasn't as good as advertised - calling him a thrower and not a pitcher. When Greene signed his contract extension this spring, there were fans who thought the Reds made a huge mistake.
Watching Greene mow down the Minnesota Twins lineup with ease and allow just three hits while striking out 14 batters on Wednesday has some MLB analysts thinking the right-hander is the best young pitcher in the game.
Just like Hunter Greene isn't Homer Bailey 2.0, Elly De La Cruz isn't Aristides Aquino 2.0. The comparisons just aren't accurate. Relax, Reds fans. This new wave of young talent can be very successful, but it's going to take time. I know that the Cincinnati faithful hate hearing this, but you're going to have to be patient.