Elly De La Cruz can do things that other human beings can’t do on a baseball field. But it’s not just one thing, it’s so many things. On Monday night in the series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers the Cincinnati Reds shortstop showed off two of those things that make him a different kind of guy. De La Cruz hit a 450-foot home run from the left side of the plate in the 5th inning. Two innings later he homered from the right side of the plate – but this one didn’t leave the ballpark. Nope, this one got by a diving center fielder and rolled to the warning track while De La Cruz raced around the bases and slid head first to the plate for an inside-the-park homer.

Those two things weren’t the only things that he did on the night that made it special, but we’ll get to some of the other stuff later on. Let’s first focus on the home runs.

Jason Bernard of MLB.com’s research department says that Elly De La Cruz is the first player in the Statcast Era (the start of 2015) to have both a 450-foot home run and an inside-the-park home run in the same game.

In 2023 De La Cruz was the fastest player in the big leagues. To put into perspective how fast he was moving on his inside-the-park home run, here’s a freeze frame at the point when Brewers right fielder Jackson Chourio picked up the baseball in center….. note where De La Cruz was on the infield:

When the game was over, Elly De La Cruz went 3-4 with a steal, two home runs, and four runs scored. That helped put his name in a few more spots in the record books. He joined Pete Rose and Javier Valentin as the only Reds players to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game.

Those home runs from each side of the plate, coupled with the fact that one was an inside-the-park home run, the fact that he stole a base, and that he scored four runs all in the same game make him the first player in Major League Baseball history to ever have such a game according to OptaSTATS.

Elly De La Cruz isn’t perfect. But he is a unicorn. There’s no one like him in baseball. There’s a saying about baseball and how you have a chance to see something you’ve never seen before every night, but that same thing seems to apply to the Reds 22-year-old shortstop. He hasn’t even been in the big leagues for a full year and he’s had multiple games where he’s done multiple things no one has ever done before.

75 Responses

  1. Rednat

    I want EDLC leading off against lefties and hitting clean up against nighties. Time to move him up and CES and Candelaria down in the line up.

      • Jason T.

        Very hard. And unfortunately at the wrong spots. Have all the faith in the world that he’ll get it together.

  2. Rednat

    I also was impressed with his stolen base of 3rd. He got an outstanding jump. He has the speed but is also learning how to be a smart aggressive baserunner

  3. Amarillo

    A certain unnamed writer was arguing for Elly to start the year in AAA all off season. He must have had a tough night with his favorite team (The Cubs) blowing an 8 run lead and seeing Elly have his best game of the young season so far.

  4. Melvin

    He’s amazing. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve never seen nor heard of anyone like him. That’s one of the many reasons why it would be more fun, in my view, to see him in CF rather than SS. Whatever works is fine with me. He has a lot of pressure and expectations for a 22 year old.

    • TJ

      Melvin, I’m with you on Elly playing centerfield. Billy Hamilton and Jazz Chisolm have done it, although from what I’ve read, Jazz is a work in progress. Maybe sometime in the future Elly will have a chance to work on playing centerfield to see if it’s plausible/possible.

      • MK

        The difference with Billy is, he wasn’t a very good shortstop, Elly is pretty good there.

      • Chris

        MK, I don’t agree with you. ELDC is not that good of a SS.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Chris over at Fangraphs Elly rates out as above average for his career but this season is below. We are only two weeks into the season this year so maybe this years numbers should be ignored a bit but for his career he rates out as good.

      • BK

        He has the potential to be a good SS. Errors this year have not been physical errors–he just needs to grow more acclimated to the speed of the game at the highest level. Only reps allow him to grow into his ceiling as a fielder.

      • 2020ball

        All of you are also ignoring that he’s our best overall SS on the roster, even with a few unforced errors. Let him play, panicking and not believing in a guy at the tiniest sign of trouble is an awful way to manage a club.

  5. Stock

    What I love is that EDLC’s speed intimidates opponents. Elly hits a slow roller to the 3rd baseman. Knowing EDLC is very fast he rushes his throw and EDLC ends up on 2B. He takes third without even a throw and goes home on a GB to the SS when the SS was playing on the IF grass. A pulled in IF and he did not even draw a throw.

    Going into the night: 1 SB in 8 games vs. the Brewers.
    Tonight: The Reds steal 4 bases in 1 game vs. the Brewers.

    • Harry Stoner

      I agree.
      A good relay throw on the ITPHR very well might have nailed him, but you see it being rushed and ricocheted off the mound.

  6. Brian

    Blazing speed and immense powe but if that was a road game, it probably would’ve been a single with a 3 base error and rightfully so…. Just terrible defense. Any other player on the team would’ve ended up at 3rd though.

    • Old Big Ed

      Nah. They pretty much never give an error on an unsuccessful diving attempt at a ball. You could make an argument that in light of EDLC’s speed, the fielder should not have risked letting the ball get by him, but in 30 of 30 parks, the scoring would have been HR.

      The play, though, is another example of Elly’s unicorn-ness. If the CF pulls up to play it on a hop, he concedes a single to Elly late in a close game. Elly would then likely steal 2nd to get himself into scoring position and maybe even 3rd. Having Elly on first base is probably better than having any other player in the league on first base.

      • SR

        100%. Ball never hit the fielders glove. Poor decision on CF part to dive, but not an error in any park.

      • Grand Salami

        Agree with the follow up too. CF dove to get within a few inches of the ball but without touching it, there is no way to score an error. Really dumb defensive gamble considering the batter.

      • MK

        Well if he dives and even gets the tip of a glove on it, it still isn’t an error. The rule of thumb for scorekeepers is can the play be made with “reasonable effort” by the fielder. The answer was this play could not so it is a hit.

    • Harry Stoner

      An un-hurried throw might have nabbed him….but that’s the whole point.
      EDLC’s perceived speed may have prompted the 2nd baseman to hurry the throw.

      EDLC said he was heading for home as soon as he saw the CF miss the ball.

      Which implied there was no stopping him at third.

      Not the best thing to hear, but I’ll take the aggressiveness in this situation.

      Getting thrown out at third or second is a different matter….as he’ll likely be able to steal those bases.

      When he’s off, it’s grim.

      When he’s on, it’s amazing.

    • Luke J

      In all my years of watching and playing baseball, I have never seen a ball like that ruled an error. And I wouldn’t call it terrible defense. Overly aggressive defense, but not terrible. Not the safe play, but not terrible. If an outfielder believes he can make the catch, diving is appropriate. If he believes there is any chance he can’t get there, he should pull up and play it safe. In this case, it was extremely close. He made a judgment that he thought he could make the play, and was wrong. Such a judgment call, in the moment, misjudging by a few inches at full speed, is not terrible defense. Sure, if the fielder plays it safe, pulls up, that’s a single. But just because he didn’t play it safe doesn’t make it an error. Nearly every inside-the-park homerun in baseball history comes from an outfielder diving and missing. Those aren’t errors.

      • Harry Stoner

        Wondering after the 450′ bomb if the CF decided to shade a little deeper next time EDLC was up.

        One or two steps back might have been the “margin of error” on his diving attempt.

        If so that’s exactly the kinds of defensive complications you want to see EDLC provoking.

      • VaRedsFan

        There’s really no reason to play deeper on Elly. Anything over their head is out of the park anyway. He doesn’t hit many towering balls that need to be caught at the warning track

      • Harry Stoner

        You should let the Brewers’s CF know you opinion on that.

    • Chris

      Wrong. That would never have been an error. Sure, maybe not the best decision by the CFer, but never would that be an error. You will never find an example of a guy diving for a ball and then getting an error for such a dive.

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      That play has never been an error at least in the modern era of my lifetime and I am in my retirement.

    • 2020ball

      Definitely not an error, but still awful defense. @Brian is right about that.

    • Ted Alfred

      There is no way that’s a single with the three Base error in any ballpark with any score keeper. That is clearly 100% an inside the park home run… and that is really not debatable. Now could the center field or have not tried to make the catch and just held him to a single of course… but that’s not an error

    • Brian

      The fielder took a bad angle and let the ball play him. It should’ve been a single. It was a bad news bear play regardless if he touched it with his glove. If he slowed up and took the proper angle. I’m not talking away from his speed but It was a gift home run. The dude definitely has the speed to hit an inside the park home run without a misplayed ball.

  7. TR

    Elly De La Cruz is obviously a hard worker and willing to learn. As a young player, there will be some rough periods down the road, but he’s the future leader of the Reds.

    • 2020ball

      +1

      Let him play, he’s going to make errors and strikeout but that doesnt mean he isnt an important member of the team regardless.

  8. Redsvol

    Great write-up Doug. I love the still shot of where EDLC was at point the favorite door rookie of year picked ball up.

  9. AC

    Good thing they didn’t send him down, as has been suggested by some “experts” on these here interwebs.

    • Harry Stoner

      Didn’t hear any of that on this here interweb.

      When his lackadaisical play provoked some concern, most folks implied that he would have nothing to gain from hitting against AAA pitching again.

      Last night was great, EDLC chipping away at his ~50% K rate.

      His 2 hrs were the margin of victory and made for a thrilling spectacle.

      • 2020ballA

        I heard it, i hear stuff like that all – the – time here. Very rarely do i see anyone walk those kinds of comments back either.

      • 2020ball

        I heard it, i hear stuff like that all…the… time here. Very rarely do i see anyone walk those kinds of comments back either.

  10. Mark Moore

    Thanks for this, Doug. And that picture … WOWSER!!! 😮

    • Mark Moore

      Reds FB post said 14.96 seconds home-to-home

      • Doug Gray

        I have seen that number a few times and I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I’ve seen the Hawkeye (Statcast) data and it says 15.00 seconds. The difference is insanely small, but I don’t know where other sources are getting the 14.96 when Hawkeye is showing 15.00 and that’s what MLB uses for all of the Statcast stuff they talk about.

      • greenmtred

        Either way, it’s eye-popping when you consider that it’s 120 yards with three corners to turn, and probably more than 120 because when he goes a little wide to turn the corners it adds distance.

  11. Amarillo

    Obviously Elly has a long way to go for this comparison, he has to learn to lay off those bad breaking balls, but Elly has done things in baseball that I have never seen before.

    When I watch Elly do these things, I think about if it was similar to how people felt watching Willie Mays. A player who could do things that genuinely no one else could.

    • TR

      I’m with you regarding Willie Mays. A lot of memories seeing him and the Giants playing the Reds at Crosley Field. For me, Willie Mays is one of the all-time greats of ML baseball.

      • greenmtred

        For me, too. The gold standard.

    • Jim Walker

      Johnny Bench’s catching was in the same category. Fielding, throwing, and tagging he did things no other catcher had done prior at MLB, And yeah, he could hit too.

      It gets lost over the decades that he won 2 NL MVP awards through his age 24 season as the #1 catcher for the NL championship team both seasons. His OPS+ those 2 MVP seasons were 141 and 166.

      • Amarillo

        I played against Bench’s son in Little League, so I can say that Bench watched me play Baseball (kind of) haha.

    • BigRedMachine

      The player I always think of when someone say baseball unicorn is Stan Musial. When I was a kid I would scan through yearly top 10 records by category. In his prime Musial was in the top 10 (sometimes number 1) in pretty much every list. Hits, doubles, triples, home runs, it doesn’t matter. You’ll see his name somewhere in the top 10 year in and year out.

      Musial and Elly are completely different kinds of players and I’m not suggesting a direct comparison. But in terms of unicorns, Stan was indeed The Man.

  12. Ft. City reds

    I think I read his inside the park home run was 14.9 seconds. If I had 14.9 seconds, I would be halfway to first base laying on the ground gasping for air questioning everything I’ve ever done in my life

  13. Jonathan

    Sign ELDC for a 10 years contract by the end of the year please. what you want is a bunch of players who want to grow, learn, and improve. ELDC is one of them with learning English in the off season and improving his play. You can’t teach drive and the desire to learn

    • Mark Moore

      As much as I dislike those types of contracts, I’d lean in favor of it for Elly if he’s willing to sign.

      • Grand Salami

        Agreed. Even if he stays what he is now, it’s worth it. 8-10 years at an AAV of 12 mil per.

  14. MBS

    It’s time to start making “Elly Knows” tee shirts

  15. PhoenixPhil

    I was wondering last night, “What is the greatest homerun distance differential in baseball?”
    You would think 450 and ~270 would be it. But baseball has such a long history, you never know…
    At least we know from 2015: Jason Bernard of MLB.com’s research department says that Elly De La Cruz is the first player in the Statcast Era (the start of 2015) to have both a 450-foot home run and an inside-the-park home run in the same game.

  16. LarkinPhillips

    10 games into season, so super small sample size, but a couple of interesting/concerning stats for our Reds:
    -We currently lead the league in strikeouts per game at 10.5 per game.
    -We currently lead the league in Ground outs per fly ball outs. (hitting a lot of rollover grounders to pull side.)

    Just something to ponder… Not any huge takeaways from me.

    • Harry Stoner

      High team strikeout rate follows on at least anecdotal 2023 trend.
      I know some RLN faithful will consider that to be “fine” or point out that the Reds have a winning record so far in 2024.

      Reds only struck out 6 times last night.
      Scored 10 runs.
      More balls in play can lead to more runs.
      More runs can lead to more wins.

  17. Jason T.

    What’s not to like about EDLC overall.
    A young player still finding his way with immense amount of talent and heart/smarts to match.
    Clearly he’s working hard in very facet to improve his game. But it’s just that, a work in progress. Strikeouts are going to happen. To me I see more discipline, especially as of late.
    Just like Steer and others have commented, the Reds need to be aggressive and lock up these talented players for the long haul.

  18. Mauired

    First Cincinnati Red to have a homer and inside the parker in the same game since May 1982. I was born in July. I’ve watched a lot of Reds baseball and never seen anything like him outside of the players I would create in a video game. He is on pace for 97 steals. Last time someone got to 100 was 1987. Rickey Henderson has the modern day record of 130 steals. Elly might not get there this year but I wouldn’t put it past him to be able to do it in the next few years as he learns to get on base more. The historical record MLB is actually already in Cincinnati. Red Stockings Hugh Nichols with 138 steals in 1887. That one probably stands the test of time. Lol.

    • Westfester

      I was surprised to see on that list was Jonny Bench! What, did the other team just forget to go get the ball?

      • Jim Walker

        I don’t recall the Bench dual game. But try to find some pics of him from his early years. He was lean back then and ran decently till catching 140+ games a year took its toll on his knees,

  19. Indy Red Man

    I thought one of the more exciting plays last year was when Elly threw out Carroll from Arizona trying to complete an inside the park HR. He’s truly gifted and I think Bell is doing him a favor by dropping him to 6th. Last year was too much for him I think. Very few are like a Trout or Junior Griffey where you plug and play leadoff or 3rd 4th in the order

  20. old-school

    Despite the up and down and huge k rates, Elly is third in the NL in runs scored behind Ohtani and Betts and 2nd in the NL in SB.

    • Rednat

      Eli is scoring at a 70 % rate when he gets on base. Unbelievable percentage. So Eli, just get on base.
      I actually don’t criticize the centerfielder for diving for the ball. He was likely going to score any way so may as well try to catch it

  21. Frankie Tomatoes

    I do not know if Elly will ever figure things out as much as some of us hope because the strikeouts are so hard to overcome. He is still very young so maybe he can. But he is still going to have the opportunity to change a game every night that he is on the field because he is so well rounded in other ways than making contact. He is the type of player who can be a superstar but not the best player if that makes sense.

    • Optimist

      There are parts of the defensive game you cannot work on – speed, height, etc.. But technique, repetition and scouting you can improve. He’s close to being the best MLB defender at SS and 3B already, and he likely won’t get worse for a long time. With premium defensive skills, the speed and power will compensate for a lot of hitting deficiency, and if he could sacrifice some power for OBP/pitch recognition that could really extend and enhance his career.

    • greenmtred

      It does make sense. He may always strike out more than many other players: he has a very large strike zone, for one thing. But if he’s stealing lots of bases, scoring and driving in lots of runs, the strikeouts aren’t too high a price to pay.

    • 2020ball

      +1

      He always going to strikeout, ive accepted that and so should everyone else. Obviously i also hope he improves his current rate, but hes so young that i see no reason to worry yet. Plenty of guys have been great players with high K rates.

  22. RedsMonk65

    Count me among the impressed. I think that inside-the-parker really deflated a Brewers team that was on the verge of a comeback victory. Can’t wait to see what Elly does next and am looking forward to watching him as a Red for years to come. Glad he’s on our side.

  23. Chad A Donnell

    There is only one player to have played the game like Elly. He was also a Red and he did not stay healthy for very long. Elly may achieve a lot more than Eric the Red.

  24. Mike W

    My simple comments are these:
    1. Elly is 22 and hasn’t played a full year yet and he’s already done half a dozen things that no one else has ever done. Wow.
    2. Bell, please don’t put the fastest, most exciting man in baseball hitting behind either one of our catchers ever again. Thank God Stephenson didn’t happen to be in Elly’s way yesterday when Elly was doing his thing(s).
    3. Bell, please don’t have Elly hit so low in the lineup, regardless of who the pitcher is. One of the reasons the pitchers throw him lots of crap — besides the fact he’s still learning to stay off of it — is because he has “no one” (sorry Espinal, but that’s true) batting behind him to protect him. Pitchers figure walking Elly is better than him hitting 450’ homers. They’ll take their chances with Espinal. With the injuries we have, the lineup should be India, Benson, Elly, Steer, Fraley, CES, Fairchild, Candelario, Stephenson.
    4. My son, a math and baseball nut, says Elly has scored 73% of the times he has gotten on base this year!! Facing a lefty? So, what. That’s how you get better, and throw in a bunt against them once in a while.
    And my closing comment is this: Elly will only get better — wow, just got chills typing that! —by being in every day in the top half of the lineup so he can hit more often. Can you imagine pitchers trepidation facing Benson, Elly and Steer in succession? A lefty, a switch and a righty. All of which I believe have been NL Players of the Week over the last 12 months. ?

    • greenmtred

      He had Steer batting behind him last night.

  25. Jim t

    Nice game by ELDC. Hope he can build on his success. It is still fresh in
    My mind that many on the board wanted him sent to AAA last week. EDLC is a young 22 year old let’s try not to put so much pressure on him. He is very talented but needs experience and time to grow and develop.

  26. Mike W

    Bell just doesn’t get it. He has CES hitting 3rd tonight. CES is a righty and struggling and we’re facing a RH Milwaukee pitcher. CES should be hitting 6th and EDLC should be hitting 3rd. In addition, why put the two hitters with the worst BA and OPS in the game (CES and Candelario) hitting 3rd and 4th? 3rd and 4th are where a teams’ best hitters usually go. And how is the NL Player of the Week (Steer) hitting 7th? Who knows what will happen in tonight’s game, and I certainly hope CES and Candelario have monster games, but that will defy the odds and trend. Our current baseball manager still doesn’t impress me as a player manager. And just as I was about to hit “send” I see us swinging at pitches and giving their SP his easiest inning of the night in terms of pitches. We should be taking pitches when we’re behind to get his pitch count up and get to Milwaukee’s bullpen.

  27. Mike W

    Once again, Bell hurt our offensive possibilities by having EDLC and Steer hitting in the bottom half of our lineup, when they should be in the top half! Bell has to open his eyes and move CES and Candelario down and Elly and Steer up! Last night it was twice as obvious as tonight, but tonight still showed what should have been done:
    CES and Candelario: 2 for 10 (.200), 3 K’s, no BBs, 2 runs scored and none knocked in.
    Elly and Steer: 3 for 7 (.429), 1 K, 1 BB, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s.
    Our starting pitcher and fans deserve more than what they’ve gotten from Bell thus far and we’re better than a 1 game over .500 team. Good night.

    • greenmtred

      Did you just look at the lineup, or did you notice Steer batting with Elly and Fraley on base? When you have good hitters bunched, as you said, they get opportunities regardless of where in the lineup they’re bunched. CES got two hits, also, so there’s a good early sign.

  28. Casey39

    Can we please put our $45 million Candy Man somewhere else in the lineup?
    Can we please move our best hitter out of the 7 hole? Spencer Steer would be a top 5 hitter for the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Phillies….but he is #7 on the Reds?