If not for the fact he wasn't called up until June, we might be looking at Cincinnati Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz as the National League Rookie of the Year — and his home run Wednesday illustrated that even further, as controversial as it was.
As De La Cruz came up to bat in the second inning against Washington, Nationals manager Dave Martinez had the umpires check out his bat for an empty sensor cover on the knob. (The sensor records bat movement; at the time, the sensor was not on the bat but just the empty cover.)
De La Cruz was required to remove the cover, even though it was something he had been playing with since he was called up to the majors. After league review, he was allowed in the next inning to put the empty cover back on the bat.
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) July 5, 2023
Despite all of that, De La Cruz stepped up in the fifth inning and launched a 455-foot home run bomb.
Elly De La Cruz hit a 455-ft home run after Nationals manager Dave Martinez questioned the use of an empty sensor cover on the knob of his bat.
Umpires made De La Cruz remove the cover but it was allowed back on in the third inning after league review.
— ESPN (@espn) July 6, 2023
Immediately after hitting the ball, De La Cruz waited to ensure it was a home run. Once he knew it was a no-doubt bomb, he pointed to the bottom of his bat while looking at the home plate umpire and threw it to the side to indicate he didn't need it to perform well.
"Just to tell everybody that the knob is not the reason why I am doing a good job," De La Cruz said. "It's because of all the work I'm putting out there."
After the game, Martinez commented on the situation. Let's just say he wasn't happy.
What Davey Martinez Said About De La Cruz's Home Run
Davey Martinez shared some thoughts about Elly De La Cruz pic.twitter.com/xLepzyBfuq
— Talkin? Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 6, 2023
"I love the way he plays the game," Martinez said. "I didn't like his antics after he hit the home run, we can do without that. He's only got two weeks in the big leagues. But he's gonna be a good player."
To be clear, De La Cruz was called up and played on June 6, so it's been about a month, Mr. Martinez.
Through 26 games, De La Cruz has had 118 plate appearances and has posted a line of .318/.356/.536. He's also added four home runs, 14 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, eight doubles and two triples.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, De La Cruz and every other player not named Corbin Carroll are +360 to win the National League Rookie of the Year. If De La Cruz had played since the first game, it's hard to argue that he wouldn't give Carroll a run for his money.
De La Cruz is a fantastic player to watch for the next generation, and moments like what transpired Wednesday night are why.
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