How is it that in just a few weeks, Reds right fielder Aristides Aquino has went from another Reds prospect getting a shot in the big leagues to being in the same company as two Reds legends in Frank Robinson and Johnny Bench?

It’s incredible and can only happen in baseball, the most unique of all sports.

I watched Aquino play twice for the Dayton Dragons in 2015. He was nothing special that year (.234, 5 home runs, 27 RBI’s) and the only thing that stood out for me was his play in right field. I loved his arm, size and athleticism – but that was about it.

His reign of terror the last two weeks batting cleanup for the Cincinnati Reds is history in itself. Only two other Reds in my lifetime have done anything like this; Frank Robinson in 1962 and  Johnny Bench in 1972.

In many ways, Robby’s 1962 season was better than his MVP year of 1961. Virtually all of his numbers were better. During the month of August, Robinson went on a power hitting binge but it was too little, too late for the defending champion Reds.

And in May-June 1972, Bench and the Reds went on a memorable road trip in which the Reds catcher was in a home run groove that propelled the Reds from third to first place. Bench clobbered home runs off a lot of pitchers, ranging from Woody Fryman to Steve Carlton and in the process, stopped all the chatter that his 1970 MVP season was a fluke.

And now Aquino?

He’s energized the Reds fan base. He wears #44, the number worn by Eric Davis. He’s kept Cincinnati within striking distance of the playoffs. (One caveat for me– they need to reach .500 before I take that seriously). In many ways, he’s taken pressure off of Nick Senzel and Eugenio Suarez. And, as a Reds fan and observer, he seems to be a likeable guy.

Sure, he’s going to cool off. Pitchers will adjust. He’ll come down to earth. But as weird as it sounds, he’s shown the capability to be able to “carry” a team with his hitting.

And he’s just a rookie. Robby was an established veteran when he went on his roll. So was Johnny Bench.

After I watched his homer against the Cardinals last night, I tried to recall a rookie who had an impact on the Reds, not just statistically, but in creating such enthusiasm among the fans.

I came up with a few names. Wayne Simpson exploded on the scene with a 14-1 record in the first half of the 1970 season. Bernie Carbo had a nice year in ’70 as well. Dan Driessen struck out in his major league debut against Rick Reuschel at Wrigley Field with the bases loaded but went on to have a solid season. There was Eric the Red, of course. Chris Sabo was a fan favorite.

But no, nothing like this guy.

Just sit back, watch, have a cold one and enjoy.

And how fitting is it that the Reds are honoring Frank Robinson by having his #20 on the uniforms this season?

10 Responses

  1. MARK MOORE

    2020 isn’t promised for any of us. Right now, we enjoy the ride and the potential.

  2. Shchi Cossack

    After today’s game, Aristides Aquino:

    .333/.397/.930/1.327
    9.5% BB rate; 22.2% SO rate

    Until pitchers in the NL prove otherwise, there’s no hole in his game right now.

    • Colorado Red

      I would take that over the course of a year.

    • Pete

      Nothing to suggest it, nothing. He hadn’t slumped at Louisville, not a single time. He is an unbelievable baseball player and appears to be getting better.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        I hope you are right. However, the game is different up here than in the minors. Of course, I love what I’m seeing and would love to keep seeing it. It’s the perverbial “second time around the league” which is what will tell us about how good Aquino is. So, see me at least after next All-Star break before I make any “long term” judgement.

        I specify “long term” because, like I said, I love what I am seeing right now.

        I’m definitely not going to be comparing him to JB or Robby right now. If it was 1968, it wouldn’t have been fair to compare “JB in 1968” to “JB in 1980”. So, I’m not going to do that. If Aquino can do this for 3-5 years, then I will start to make that comparison.

        I just hope the kid keeps a good head on himself and doesn’t start “trying” to swing for the fences. That normally spells doom for the young sluggers. They never learn that all they need to do is “simply make contact” with the bat and the ball would still have a chance to go over the fense with as strong as they are.

      • Reaganspad

        Why would he need to swing for the fences? His swing is compact and powerful as it is. I have not seen him muscle up yet.

        He has to stay off of the slider on the outside corner. And it appears that he is recognizing it a fair amount of the time. This is not Nick Esasky here….(unfortunately, because I loved Nick, but he no like the curveball).

        I think his new stance is helping his pitch recognition in a big way. I wonder how many Charlie Lau books will be coming off of the shelves now for everyone else

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Why do any young sluggers need to do that? I don’t get it, either. But, many fall in love with the long ball, and it screws with the rest of their offense.

  3. Don

    Great article, Aquino ABs are must watch. Emjoying the ride.

    I agree with that statement that until they are 500 no need to talk any ideas of post season.

  4. David

    Maybe Jack Armstrong in the first half of 1990. He’s the closest thing I remember.

  5. Pete

    Steve Mancuso is doing a series featuring a segment devoted to each of AA’s home runs to date. My gut tells me most were not hit on mistake pitches (meatballs) but on good pitches as much as bad. But I really don’t know. At least the first home run was on a very good pitch from Dallas Keuchel. Looking forward to Steve’s analysis of AA’s second bomb.

    Here is a link. Doug, let me know if I’m off base here and I will not post anymore links to the site:

    http://redscontentplus.com/2019/08/a-timeline-of-punishment-aristides-aquinos-home-runs-1-major-league-first/