So here’s the resume of someone who WON’T be in Seattle tomorrow night when major league baseball’s purportedly best players will convene in the 90th All-Star Game, per reports from ESPN and USA TODAY:
- .(A)n .899 OPS into his 30th big-league game Sunday, had scored 28 times in 29 games, and delivered 15 extra-base hits — including two homers in excess of 450 feet.
- (T)he only player in MLB history with 40 hits and 15 stolen bases in their first 30 games.
- An instant sparkplug for Cincinnati since being called up in early June. The team went from under .500 to 10 games over .500 in the span of that time and now leads the National League (Central by a) game over Milwaukee.
- (I)t took him only 29 games to catch enough of the National League’s top base stealers to already rank among the top 10 in the league in steals.
He’s Elly de la Cruz, and if you haven’t been under a rock in the last month, if you call yourself a baseball fan, you are slowly becoming aware he’s something special. Arguably, he’s the most impactful mid-season call-up of since Willie McCovey joined the San Francisco Giants in late July 1959.
And McCovey, great as he was, never did anything like this:
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 8, 2023
So then would someone from Rob Manfred’s braintrust try and explain to me why de la Cruz isn’t in Seattle?
Because he’s played in roughly a third of the team’s games? Because he was recalled after the All-Star balloting window had started? Because a sport so determined to keep its “traditions”–the same sport that changed the size of its bases, added a pitch clock, now starts its tenth innings with someone already on second base and may reward a fourth-place division team with a post-season berth–couldn’t see fit to give even a back-up spot to someone as rare, gifted and talented as EDLC?
Go ahead, cloud-yellers. Try and defend that sort of logic. You won’t fit a sympathetic ear with me.
Because here’s all you need to know about why I’m so passionate about this dude.
When my fantasy baseball team began the year 2-6, mired in last place in a 13-team league where I even trailed an honorary team ostensibly being “run” by a recently deceased owner (in reality, the plaything of our trade-obsessive and often juvenile league commissioner), I traded my starting shortstop, Bo Bichette, currently the American League’s leading hitter, for Cubs ace Justin Steele and Angels’ outfielder Hunter Renfroe, if for no other reason that a) I needed a decent pitcher and b) the last thing I wanted to do was to trade with our commissioner. Said commissioner castigated me on our league board, chiding me for giving up a stud like Bichette at a key position. de la Cruz, who I saw was imminently set for recall that week, was my hail mary replacement selection.
Since then, I won four in a row, narrowly missed upsetting the league’s number one team this past week (only being beaten by a stellar two-start performance including a complete game shutout by the Giants’ Logan Webb late yesterday), and, at 7-7, somehow find myself in the thick of a wild card race of my own despite my horrid start. And I’m getting far more production from my shortstop (who is also eligible at third base!) that I would have gotten had I stayed with Bichette. And is giving me a reason to still care about the second half even as my Mets lapse back into potential irrelevance.
So if for no other reason that that, I’m one of EDLC’s most ardent bandwagoners. As a Mets fan, I’m looking forward to a few days off before a crucial stretch of games starts. They sure need the time away.
Elly de la Cruz does not. He should be playing tomorrow night.
But he may very well be leading Cincinnati into a rare Red October.
Know I’ll be watching.