Elly De La Cruz and Joey Votto share a similar eye for the strike zone but distinct discipline…

Elly De La Cruz and Joey Votto may share a similar eye for the strike zone, but their paths to plate discipline have been distinct.

In his minor league journey, De La Cruz’s walk rate saw a significant uptick, reaching 14% in Triple-A during the 2023 season. This improvement coincided with his promotion to the Cincinnati Reds in early June. However, his transition to the majors was marked by inconsistencies, with a walk rate of 8% and a strikeout rate of 34%.

Despite a sluggish start to the current season, De La Cruz has emerged as one of baseball’s top hitters, boasting a remarkable .299/.419/.621 slash line. His walk rate has surged to 16%, placing him among the league leaders in on-base percentage. While his strikeout rate remains relatively high at 30%, there are signs of improvement.

Comparisons to Joey Votto, known for his exceptional plate discipline, are inevitable. Both players share a similar walk rate, but their approaches differ. Votto exhibited greater contact ability throughout his career, striking out just 19% of the time. In contrast, De La Cruz has shown improvement in his chase rate, reducing it from 35.3% to 26.6% this season.

Pitchers have been cautious against De La Cruz, offering him fewer pitches in the strike zone compared to Votto. However, De La Cruz’s evolving patience suggests a promising trajectory in his development. While there’s room for improvement in his swing rate and contact rate within the zone, De La Cruz’s progress indicates a potential for further offensive prowess.

In the dynamic landscape of player development, De La Cruz’s journey exemplifies the non-linear path to success. With continued refinement of his approach, he stands poised to reach new heights in his offensive performance, solidifying his place as a cornerstone of the Reds’ lineup.

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