Elly De La Cruz is a unicorn. He does things that very few other humans can do. But he does those things as one person, instead of the other guys who can only closely match one of those things at a time. One of the things that makes De La Cruz so special is his arm strength. Over the last two seasons no one in Major League Baseball has made a throw after fielding a baseball as an infielder and thrown across the diamond at 100 MPH. It’s only happened once in Triple-A, where that data is also tracked. That one time happened last season when Elly De La Cruz threw 100.2 MPH while playing for Louisville. Last night this popped up on his throw that deflected off of the glove of Jeimer Canderlario in the 9th inning:

106.9 MPH across the diamond. Watching the play live, you knew that De La Cruz had launched a rocket over to first base. The throw seemed to shock Candelario, who had the height to catch the ball above his head….. he just didn’t have the reaction time to get his glove up there fast enough. Fortunately for De La Cruz, Candelario, and the Cincinnati Reds, they were able to hold on and win the game a few minutes later and the error didn’t cost them.

Immediately, I felt that there was some sort of calculation/tracking error in the data. While Elly De La Cruz is a unicorn and seems to be capable of superhuman things – that was nearly seven miles per hour faster than any other throw he or anyone else had made as an infielder. Hawkeye, the technology used to give us all of the fun and cool Statcast data these days, sometimes has errors and makes mistakes. I’ve seen throws initially registered in the 120’s. There have been home runs registered well over 500 feet that clearly didn’t go 425. These things happen every so often and the team at MLB Advanced Media tends to quickly get in and either correct the data if possible, or just scrub it from the database as a false reading.

That’s what happened on the throw from De La Cruz this morning. After some booing from the crowd, it’s acceptable. 106.9 MPH just seems unrealistic, even for a unicorn.

The question then became just how fast was the throw? We still don’t have an exact answer for that. But we’ve got a general idea thanks to Tom Tango, who is the senior data architect at MLB Advanced Media. He did the gory math for everyone, and while the return isn’t as exact as it would be from Hawkeye’s algorithm, he concluded that the throw was somewhere between 102 and 103 MPH.

That throw, if the numbers are to be believed at 102 to 103 MPH, would be a new record since we started tracking that kind of data back in 2015. But it might also be one that doesn’t go in the “record books” because it had to be adjusted and may or may not have enough data to truly be recalculated. That’s just what we need – another tall tale about the legend that is Elly De La Cruz.

33 Responses

  1. Don

    That was without a doubt the hardest infield throw I’ve ever seen. It was almost other worldly.

    I do think though De La Cruz gets the runner with a softer through. Candelario looked to be caught off guard with the speed of throw and understandably so.

  2. Redhaze

    106 to the net doesnโ€™t impress. Sharon Dunston could do it.

    • Doug Gray

      Wrong. It’s still impressive.

      Right. Shawon Dunston might have been the guy who could do it. He was the first guy that a young me saw display a skill on the baseball field that was just different from everyone else. That arm was something special.

    • Melvin

      “Sharon Dunston could do it.”

      Is that Shawon Dunston’s wife Sharon that could throw that hard?…Just playing with ya. We all make funny mistakes from time to time. ๐Ÿ˜€ haha

      • Redhaze

        I laughed at myself. Didnโ€™t see it til now.

  3. Tom Noonan

    Distance needed 132 ft.? He was just on the dirt surface beyond the infield grass. No way that was 132 ft from 1B. Maybe that went into the recalculation. I’m a big elly fan. He just needed better recognition of where he was relative to Candy and how hard to throw it.

    • Tangotiger

      The “Distance needed” you see there is from the fielder to when the ball first hit the ground off the bat. Both the Sprint Speed and Distance Needed shown in the image are irrelevant for the throw.

      My linked tweet has all the pertinent information.

  4. mac624

    So, what you are saying is, EDLC should be the new closer. Cuz I’m thinking most hitters are going to struggle to hit 102 to 103 on a consistent basis. He definitely is a unicorn .

    • J

      How come when Hunter Greene ONLY has a fastball working and he’s hit 105 mph with that fastball before , they still seem to eventually time it up and he gives up HRs ?? You need more than a fastball no matter if it’s 102 mph or Greg Maddux 91 mph HEATER lmao

    • J

      I guess a CLOSER could get away with it briefly but how long you think it takes knowing it’s fastball and nothing else before it’s ” timed up ” by pro hitters ???

  5. Jim Walker

    I was mostly a catcher when in my youth but also played 1B some and want to speak to Candy’s situation. My most embarrassing moment on a baseball field came when a throw to 1B from the SS hit me in the worst possible spot, my hands, yet I didn’t hold onto it.

    Our two best pitchers rotated between pitching and SS. On the day in question, the guy playing SS grabbed a grounder just to the SS side of 2B slightly deeper than the baseline, and made a hurried throw to me at 1B. He was on the move and had to turn his body a bit and drop down to 3/4 to get the ball off.

    Still, it looked like his typical straight arrow waist high throw coming in to me. But alas, in the last couple of feet as I reached to grasp it, the throw took a wicked slider like break. I was too handcuffed to pick it with the glove vertically and tried to smother it but to no avail as it hit on the heel of the glove and fell to the ground.

    We got the next batter to end the inning; but, a run had scored on the missed out. The guy who made the throw ran straight to me and apologized as he headed to the bench. Then when he got to the bench he threw himself under the bus to the coach. I appreciated his support; but, I did not feel any better about not making a play I thought I should have made. And going on 60 years later, I still can recall and relive that play.

  6. Rednat

    the skill that impresses me the most with EDLC is his durability. imagine the number Eric Davis could have put up if he stayed healthy. EDLC’s ceiling is higher than Eric’s in my humble opinion. Imagine the numbers he will put up if he plays 162 games. numbers that have never been seen before.

    • LDS

      Just matching Davis’ miracle year, spanning two seasons and staying healthy would satisfy me. As Doug said, he’s a unicorn. Stay healthy, keep progressing, no PEDs, and the Reds could be in for a treat. Be nice to get him away from his agent and with someone more amenable to an extension. Otherwise, if he keeps progressing, he’s likely a Dodger, a Yankee, or maybe a Met when FA hits. The Reds have to keep the unicorns in the corral.

      • Melvin

        I understand but no matter who the agent the player has the final say. Imagine if Boras talked him out of several hundred guaranteed millions in order to wait for a few more only to have some kind of severe injury (not necessarily baseball related) take it all away. Common sense would put that on any players mind. I know you and I wouldn’t take that chance. ๐Ÿ˜‰ An “early” contract can still be negotiated somewhat.

      • LDS

        I agree. He could sign for more money now than most of us will ever see. Most donโ€™t think about injury. Remember we were all immortal at 22. I miss those days.

      • Melvin

        LDS – Maybe some “mortal” ought to remind him of the risk before it’s too late? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Justin T

        I had a couple of conversations w guys close to that team through the years (one played on the 90 team) who say Eric wasnt always necessarily hurt. He just liked to have days off and sometimes more than one in a row. Also insinuated he couldnt play thru nagging injuries. Broke the young meโ€™s heart hearing that lol still not sure I all the way believe it.

    • Ernie Howerton

      The thing that concerns me is all the headfirst diving.As hard as he runs,I’m afraid of hand injury.

  7. RedBB

    102-103 is still amazing unless you are getting a running head start on the throw. Very few pitchers in MLB can top that.

  8. MK

    How soon before he blows out his shoulder or elbow?

    • MrRed

      Probably a while unless he lands on it diving for a flyball.

      • Melvin

        I understand your point but not to put too much of a damper on that argument remember SS/infielders do dive for balls too. They also run into walls chasing foul balls. The just don’t run into outfield walls. That would be the most amazing thing any of us have ever seen. Not sure even EDLC could do that from SS. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Melvin

    Just an observation not a criticism. EDLC loves to you use his arm so much that in certain circumstances (not necessarily last night) he will wait a quick second to make the throw so instead of getting rid of it quickly like most SS, so he can “air out” his awesome arm. While he does have quickness to use at SS he can’t really run and use his great speed there either. There is a sense in which he’s like a caged animal at SS. These are just some of the reasons I believe his best position is CF. There he can often run as fast as he wants and more often than not really “crank” his awesome arm. He’d love it there. Again, I have no problem with him playing SS which he HAS to do this year with all the injuries and Marte being out.

    • MrRed

      He’d be even more caged as a CF. Less fielding opportunities. That’s why he is more valuable at SS.

      • Melvin

        Always going to be that debate I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Eddiek957

    When Elly unleashed that throw my thought was poor Candy

  11. Mark Moore

    Great article. Wait another game or 2 and we’ll see another 100mph+ throw. And it won’t be the last.

  12. Mark Moore

    And things continue to head deeper into the dumpster fire for the Los Angeles Halos of Anaheim … Trout will have knee surgery per MLBTR.

    • Melvin

      Guess I don’t want to trade for him now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. JT

    If he starts learning the intangibles he will be MVP material for years to come