The Cincinnati Reds are an interesting team. The squad that was a free win marked on the schedule in 2022 turned into one of the scariest teams in baseball in just one year. After a meager 7-15 start to 2023, the Reds found themselves sitting at 50-40 at the All-Star break with a serious shot to take the weak NL Central division.
You may ask how did this happen? The answer is simple — young guns.
The emergence of young hitters Matt McLain, T.J. Freidl, Spencer Steer, and, of course, Elly De La Cruz saw the Reds go from a bottom-tier organization to one of the most exciting teams in baseball very quickly.
Let’s talk about Elly De La Cruz. This young man is a dream come true for baseball fans, especially Reds fans. His switch-hitting and his slugging have been on high display in his rookie season, but there is so much more to his game. In just 63 big league games, he has already stolen 19 bases (including home plate), and hit for the cycle. At just 21 years old, he is super talented and freakishly athletic. Every baseball fan out there would be lying if they said he wasn’t one of the most entertaining young players in the game.
The success of De La Cruz has also seemed to overshadow the other young, breakout players that the Reds have produced. First baseman Spencer Steer, shortstop Matt McLain, and outfielder T.J. Freidl are all having amazing seasons themselves, all with an OPS+ of over 100.
With all of this exciting young talent on the Reds, the problem with them is all too similar to the Diamondbacks … a lack of veteran talent. With how good these young guns have been, the fact of the matter is young players are going to have ups and downs. It is very rare you see players to the likes of Ronald Acuña Jr. or Miguel Cabrera who come into the league dominating and just don’t stop.
The Reds have felt this as they’ve fallen out of the division lead and are scratching for the last Wild Card spot in the National League. While the Reds have some promising young pitchers, just one of their starters has a sub-4.00 ERA. Walks and home run balls are a problem for this pitching staff and those two things are a recipe for disaster in playoff baseball.
Are the playoffs possible? Definitely, but I don’t see it going any further than that for the Reds. Their lineup isn’t experienced enough and the pitching staff just doesn’t have what it takes to make a run in October.
Summing it up
The bottom line for both of these teams is almost the same. Young, fun, and talented, but they lack the immediate tools to be competitive in the postseason or even make the postseason. The Reds and the Diamondbacks have both been a pleasure to watch this year, but neither team is a finished product. Fans of both teams should be excited as the future looks very bright, and the league should be watching out for these two teams in the coming years.