Elly De La Cruz has a ridiculous ceiling

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

There was a distinct 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 he took the time to trot after one of his thirteen tape measure shots or when he wasted no time at all racing the basepaths. Baseball fans wondering what his true ceiling might be may be tinkering with already sky-high expectations in the early stages of De La Cruz’s second season, as after 19 games he appears more than capable of being one of the most productive young to be stars. in the game.

On Friday night, De La Cruz stole three bases and launched a three-run homer. His slash line is .290/.364/1.001. The longball was his sixth of the year and increased his RBI total to 14. He now has an MLB-leading 10 steals and is on pace to swipe 85 for the year. There are minor caveats here too, but that adds up to 85 for the year – which would be the highest total since Rickey Henderson scored 93 steals in 1988. Add that to a 51 home run pace, a 119 RBI pace and the allure of a historic offensive explosion is very real.

The strikeout rate remains high, but is slightly lower than in his rookie campaign a year ago. De La Cruz has increased his hard-hit percentage to 50.0. Pick any offensive stat and you’ll likely find him in the top 10 in the National League. But the most impressive metric, both now and for the foreseeable future, is Power/Speed#, which charts the combination of the two most exciting. elements that a batter can bring to the table. The Reds star has a ridiculous 7.5 so far, easily the best in his class 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. Mapping what might happen in April is by definition wish-casting, but in this excerpt he would be the first explorer to find the 50/80 boundary.

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