Elly-Mania: Every Kid’s Fantasy Baseball Player. Elly De La Cruz (EDLC), baseball’s top prospect, has set the baseball world on fire since making his much-anticipated debut for the MLB’s Cincinnati Reds. With his insane raw talent, the Reds rookie has completely shattered Statcast norms.
In URBT New’s first four-part op-ed series, I will utilize my personal experience drawn from eleven years of recreational baseball and as a lifelong baseball fan to illustrate how evidence suggests that De La Cruz is a “once in a hundred years type of player.”
Spectacular? Without a doubt. The best? That is more difficult to assess, but he is capable of contending with the best players in the world.
In this second installment of the series, I will provide evidence to put EDLC’s growing résumé and appeal to today’s youth into context.
MLB Outreach Efforts
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “We’ve talked a lot about younger audiences and how significant they are for the future of the game.”
The annual Major League Baseball Little League Classic was held in August at the 2,366-seat Historic Bowman Field. The field is only a 6-mile drive from the complex where the Little League World Series was taking place, full of kids with big league dreams, many of whom attended the game eager to mingle with today’s stars and possibly make their way from one of youth baseball’s biggest summer stages to MLB.
Picture: MLB Little League Classic 2023, between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals. PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Little League Instagram page. Dated August 19, 2023.
The Classic and similar games are part of MLB’s outreach efforts attract more fans and, moreover, to connect with the next wave of baseball fans, preferably those of a similar age to 21-year-old stars like Jordan Walker and Elly De La Cruz.
“Once they have that connection and positive experience with the sport, the chances of them becoming a fan are greatly enhanced,” said Tony Reagins, a former scout and GM, who serves as MLB’s chief baseball development officer.
“Most Exciting Player in Baseball”
The Cincinnati Reds awoke on June 6, 2023, with a record of 27-33, barely a footnote in the mediocre National League Central. Elly De La Cruz’s first day in a major league uniform would be that day.
His contribution to the Reds’ success as a team cannot be overstated. MLB fans have already been rewarded with a historic display of athleticism and raw talent. Still, EDLC is only 21 and has barely begun to the surface of his potential.
In his first months in the big show, De La Cruz has contributed far more than stats. With his aggressive, exciting style of play, he has revitalized his organization and fan base.
Elly De La Cruz, often referred to as the “Most exciting player in baseball,” is the real-life version of what a little kid imagines they will do when they are in the majors. After all, Cincinnati Reds rookie slugger Elly De La Cruz’s brilliant rookie season seems like a little kid’s fantasy.
Already we’ve seen him crush titanic home runs, hit for the cycle, and steal second, third, and home in one trip around the bases (on only two pitches!).
According to Defector, “Elly De La Cruz is your new favorite player, period, full stop. Not just ours, yours too.” Adding, “This is the guy.” This statement applies not only to adult baseball fans, but also to today’s youth.
Your new favorite player has a raw power, speed, and arm strength grade of 80. There may not be another baseball player on the planet who has three 80s, with Bo Jackson being the only historical example.
Human Highlight Reel
With kids these days holding the attention span of a home run trot, the numbers found on TikTok and YouTube that have ballooned the sport to a wider audience.
“I just watch highlight videos on social media,” remarked Jacob MacKinnon, 11, from Springfield, Ohio, who attended the Little League World Series.
Picture: Little League World Series 2023. PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Bringles Smoking Oasis‘ Instagram page. Dated August 17, 2023.
Twelve-year-old Grayson Leinart from Waco, Michigan, was also in South Williamsport as a fan. He said, “I watch highlights because it’s more interesting.”
The Cincinnati Reds rookie’s growing résumé is a highlight reel that includes several records.
With His Bat
It took Elly De La Cruz 15 games to earn a place in Cincinnati Reds history. Earlier this season, De La Cruz became the first Reds player since Eric Davis in 1989 to hit for the cycle. He is the youngest player to do so since 1972. Baseball fans were impressed, to say the least.
Picture: Elly De La Cruz hits for the cycle. PHOTO: COURTESY OF: MLB on FOX Facebook page. Dated June 23, 2023.
With His Arm
He set the Statcast era (since 2015) record for fastest throw by an infielder with a 97.9 mph throw over to first base for the out. Four days later, he broke his own infield assist throwing velocity record with a 99.8 mph throw to home that nailed Giants runner Wilmer Flores trying to score. When EDLC is your cutoff man, YOU HIT YOUR CUTOFF MAN!
Picture: WHAT A RELAY. Capped off with a 99.8 MPH throw from Elly‼️ PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Reds Instagram page. Dated July 20, 2023.
With His Legs
Just when it appears that there are no more superlatives to describe what Cincinnati Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz has accomplished in his rookie season, another comparison is made that puts his ascension to baseball stardom into context.
According to Forbes, De La Cruz is “going all Jackie Robinson” against opponents, gliding around the bases with the long, loping strides of Usain Bolt, another slender, 6-5 marvel.
You’re in good company when your name is mentioned alongside Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era, and Bolt, widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time.
Picture: No. 42 of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Jackie Robinson Facebook page. Dated July 12, 2022.
The league average Speed (Spd) Score, which combines steals, triples, and runs scored to determine a player’s ability on the basepaths, is around 4.5. De La Cruz has a speed rating of 9.0.
Elly-Mania: Every Kid’s Fantasy Baseball Player
He has a sprint rate, defined as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window” on individual plays, of 30.8 feet per second, which leads the league by.4 feet per second this season, according to statcast.
De La Cruz clocked a home-to-third time of 10.83 seconds on his triple during his June 23, 2023, cycle at a run sprint speed of 30.5 ft/s.
EDLC explodes out of the box and never stops. On August 18, 2023, with an incredible display of speed as he hustled from home to home in 15.30 seconds, the fastest home-to-home time by a Red in the Statcast era (since 2015) and the third-fastest in MLB this season.
With Everything He’s Got
He is now the first player since 1903 to record 20 hits, three home runs, and five stolen bases in his first 15 career games, per ESPN Stats and Info.
De La Cruz is one of only three players to hit five homers and steal 15 bases through his first 40 games since 1900. The other two were Bonds and Gary Redus in 1982-83.
Elly De La Cruz reached 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases in the first 58 games of his career. The only player to debut since 1900 and get there faster was Barry Bonds (57 games).
Picture: Elly De La Cruz reached 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases in the first 58 games. PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Reds Instagram page. Dated August 14, 2023.
De La Cruz collected 10 homers and 20 steals in 64 career games. That’s faster than anybody in MLB history, beating Barry Bonds’ 65 games to those marks. Bonds did that in 1986.
The Future of Baseball – Elly-Mania Every Kid’s Fantasy Baseball Player
Picture: Elly De La Cruz flashing up four fingers on each hand. PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Reds Instagram page. Dated June 23, 2023.
Despite not making his MLB debut until June, De La Cruz is already making a strong case for NL Rookie of the Year.
Elly De La Cruz plays like a video game character. De La Cruz hits the ball insanely hard, throws insanely hard, and runs insanely fast.
“Elly De La Cruz is the living embodiment of the guy you made 99 overall on MLB The Show. A literal cheat code,” said Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Bats in a June statement, alongside a video of where De La Cruz scoring from first on a chopper up the middle, on X, formerly known as Twitter. Baseball has seen young phenoms before.
I’m old enough to remember many of them. Still, De La Cruz does seem different. Elly De La Cruz, as a masterclass in action, is the future of baseball, and we are all witnesses to the Elly De La Cruz era.
Get to know Elly De La Cruz now because, if they’re not already, EVERYONE will be talking about him!
Elly-Mania: Every Kid’s Fantasy Baseball Player