Cincinnati Reds rookie shortstop Ellie De La Cruz hit a home run for the cycle against the Atlanta Braves on Friday, becoming the first Cincinnati player in 34 years to accomplish the feat. Here’s what you need to know:
- De La Cruz drove in a run in the sixth inning and completed the cycle with a triple.
- The 21-year-old became the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle, steal a base and drive in four or more runs in the first six innings of a game (RBI became an official stat in 1920), according to Opta statistics.
- De La Cruz became the first Reds player to hit the rotation since Eric Davis beat the San Diego Padres 9-4 on June 2, 1989.
De La Cruz scored in the third inning on Braves’ A.J. Smith-Shaver homered after hitting a double in the second inning. He added a single in the fifth. Cincinnati beat the Braves 11-10 to improve to 41-35 on the season and sit first in the National League Central.
How did de la Cruz do it?
Since Davis, there hasn’t been a player more suited to the rotation than De La Cruz. Like Davis, De La Cruz has elite power and speed. How elite? According to MLB’s StatCast, De La Cruz’s average exit velocity for batted balls ranks in the 95th percentile and his sprint speed ranks in the 100th.
His second-inning double was 116.6 mph, bested by only seven players in baseball this season. His top speed of 118.8 mph in Triple-A is the best batted ball in the big leagues this year.
His average sprint speed of 30.9 feet per second is not only the fastest in baseball, but also the fastest by half a second. Not only can he hit the ball as well as anyone and run faster than anyone, he is also a switch-hitter. All four of his hits for the rotation were left-handed.
The 118.8-mile hitter in the minors was a right-hander. — Rosecrans
Putting de la Cruz’s record into perspective
The Great American Ball Park isn’t the most ideal place for the rotation, which may explain why a Red didn’t hit here before Friday, but it’s not impossible. Christian Yelich has done it twice and Randy Wynn of the Giants won here for the cycle in 2005.
But that doesn’t explain the fact that Davis was the only Red to do it at Riverfront Stadium, home of the Big Red Machine. The Big Red Machine calls the riverfront home, but so does Davis’ teammate and friend Barry Larkin. That Hall of Famer didn’t do that either.
Prior to Davis’ rotation, the last Red hit for the rotation was Frank Robinson on May 2, 1959. — Rosecrans
(Photo: Katie Stratman/USA Today)