The hype almost mandates that Elly De La Cruz participate in the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby

Elly De La Cruz has barely gotten his feet wet in the big leagues, but the Home Run Derby could be his breakout moment.

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

I know that Reds fans don't want to hear this, but it feels like Elly De La Cruz's inclusion in the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby is inevitable.

The hype surrounding De La Cruz seems to grow by the minute. While some will argue that the 21-year-old rookie hasn't quite lived up to the billing, De La Cruz did record the first cycle in Reds history since 1989, so there's that. He's also slugging .523 and has a wRC+ of 131 according to FanGraphs.

While fellow rookies Matt McLain and Spencer Steer have had arguably more sustained success, anyone who's seen De La Cruz play sees the potential oozing out of the Cincinnati Reds infielder. And that's what Major League Baseball will want to sell to the fans.

Will Elly De La Cruz participate in the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby?

The MLB All-Star Game has long since become more about the pageantry than showcasing the players who are actually having All-Star-caliber seasons. That's not to say that some very deserving players won't be present in Seattle during the All-Star festivities, but name recognition matters.

That's what could vault Elly De La Cruz to make his way to the Emerald City for the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby. To date, just three players have been named to the event.

Last year's runner-up and hometown favorite Julio Rodriguez will be part of the act. Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero will be a participant, and so will Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts.

That leaves five open spots, and it's been reported that Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. has turned down an invite. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, whose pitching schedule may conflict with the event, is also unlikely to participate.

Some people will tell you that participating in the Home Run Derby will ruin a player's swing for the second half. Julio Rodriguez hit .303/.361/.576 after placing second in the event last year. Pete Alonso, who won the 2021 Home Run Derby, slashed .275/.361/.560 after the All-Star break that season. So that argument holds little to no water.

If asked, Elly De La Cruz will likely participate in the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby. For starry-eyed young players like the Cincinnati Reds rookie, these opportunities are what they dream about.

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