I'm not sure who Aristides Aquino is, but he might be the best baseball player of all time
When I think of the greatest hitters in MLB history, a select few come to mind. Babe Ruth. Ted Williams. Willie Mays. Barry Bonds. Mike Trout today, for sure. Those guys could swing some lumber.
Apparently, they might just all have been amateurs compared to Reds rookie Aristides Aquino. If you are unfamiliar with Aquino, do not be ashamed. I did not know that he existed before this past week, either.
Aquino never ranked among the elite prospects in baseball, and at one point, he wasn't even listed on MLB Pipeline's top 30 prospects in the Reds' organization. He was non-tendered from their roster in the offseason and only rejoined on a Minor League deal. But that was all before he took a page from former slugger Tony Batista's book and changed his batting stance.
Aquino promptly tore up Triple-A baseball with 28 homers in 78 games, earning him a callup to play right field following the Reds' trade of Yasiel Puig. Since then, he's been unstoppable.
That first long ball on Aug. 3 was a mere taste of what was to come for Aquino. Entering Saturday, he'd tacked on three more homers to go along with an excellent .417 average in six games, tying the MLB-high for the hardest-hit blast of the year at 118.3 mph.
Although it was a hot start, we've seen players do that before. He might be superbly nicknamed "The Punisher," but monikers will only get you so far. Then, Saturday happened. The Reds faced the Cubs, and Aquino homered in his first at-bat off Kyle Hendricks, momentarily sending broadcaster Thom Brennaman into delirium:
I'm not sure what happened to Brennaman in the middle of his home run call. But I get it. Aquino was making franchise history and is a wonder to behold.
As far as Saturday was concerned though, he was just getting started. He got Hendricks again in the third ...
... and an inning later, he launched an offering from Dillon Maples that traveled 452 feet:
Aristides Aquino is on pace for infinity career homers. pic.twitter.com/rHAuJr1idr— MLB (@MLB) August 11, 2019
I've checked the calculations, and the tweet is right. Aquino is never going to stop homering.
Aquino's third dinger of the game tied Trevor Story's MLB record for most homers in a player's first 10 career games. All seven have come in the last seven games, and this marked four straight with a long ball. He's unstoppable. Even if prime Pedro Martinez used a time machine to travel to today to pitch to him, Aquino might crush one 500 feet.
The Cubs were completely petrified by Aquino. In his fourth plate appearance, they didn't throw him anything close and walked him on four pitches. The infamous Bonds Treatment is back.
Given the way Aquino's raking, he's not going to slow down. If he keeps up his August pace throughout the rest of the season, he'll have 42 homers by the end of September. It's preposterous, and yet entirely conceivable. Aquino deciding to change his batting stance is apparently just like the moment in "The Matrix" when Neo realizes that he can simply stop bullets.
Pete Alonso has a huge lead in the rookie homer department. But maybe he should watch his back.
"The Punisher" is a one-man wrecking crew, determined to destroy everything we thought we knew about hitting. Aristides Aquino is now a name to remember.
Andrew Mearns is a writer for Cut4 whose baseball obsession was born from the shattered dreams of Mike Mussina's perfect game attempt in 2001. He has a startling memory of World Series highlights that barely functions as a party trick.