Elly De La Cruz Has a Ridiculous Ceiling

The Reds star is on pace for 51 homers and 85 stolen bases in 2024.
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz made his Major League debut last June and immediately announced himself, at the age of 21, as one of the most exciting players in baseball.

There was some obvious rookie rawness reflected in his stats as he only managed to post a .710 OPS, and his 144 strikeouts in 388 at-bats were an unsustainable pace. Still, the magical moments remained, like when took his time trotting after one of his 13 tape-measure blasts or when he wasted no time at all racing around the basepaths. Baseball fans wondering what his true ceiling could be may be tinkering with already sky-high expectations in the early stages of De La Cruz's sophomore campaign because, through 19 games, he appears to be more than capable of being one of the most productive young stars in the game.

On Friday night, De La Cruz stole three bases and launched a three-run homer. His slash line sits at .290/.364/1.001. The longball was his sixth of the year and upped his RBI total to 14. He now has a MLB-leading 10 steals and is on pace to swipe 85 for the year. Again, small-sample caveats apply, but that projects to 85 for the entire year — which would be the highest total since Rickey Henderson racked up 93 steals in 1988. Add that to a 51-homer, 119 RBI pace and the allure of a historic offensive explosion is very real.

The strikeout rate remains high, but is slightly down from his rookie campaign a year ago. De La Cruz has increased his hard-hit ball percentage up to 50.0. Pick an offensive statistic and you're likely to find him among the National League's top 10. Yet the most impressive metric, both now and for the foreseeable future, figures to be Power/Speed#, which charts the combination of the two most exciting elements a batter can bring to the table. The Reds star boasts a ridiculous 7.5 to this point, far and away the best in his league and 3.1 points higher than anyone else (Shohei Ohtani is at 4.4 and Mookie Betts at 4.0).

In 2023, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña became the founding member of Major League Baseball's 40 homer/70 steal club. De La Cruz has the skill and potential to join him. Charting out what could be in April is wishcasting by definition, but at this clip he'd be the first explorer to find the 50/80 frontier.

Not too bad for a 22-year-old in his first full season.


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Kyle K

KYLE KOSTER