2024 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Player Spotlight: The Speed & Power of Elly De La Cruz

The rule changes we saw last year in the MLB transformed the sport, most notably the increased bag sizes and pitcher restrictions when it came to holding runners on base. With these changes, baseball became instantly more exciting as we saw players steal 1,000 more bases than the previous year. 


One of the most electrifying players on the base path was Cincinnati's top prospect, shortstop Elly De La Cruz. He single-handedly got me to tune into the Reds’ games and is one of the most polarizing players in the upcoming fantasy baseball season.

The Red Hot Start

When Elly De La Cruz was called up on June 6th last season, he set the baseball world on fire. Whether you were a fan of the Cincinnati Reds or not, you wanted to tune in to be a part of the excitement he brought to the game.

He recorded a hit in his first game and only took two days in the bigs to showcase his power, going yard to help the Reds win over the Dodgers. Through his first 10 games, he wasted no time showing off his speed with an impressive six stolen bases.

His most impressive feat came in his 15th MLB game where he hit for the cycle to help the Reds snag a win over the Braves. Sure, hitting for the cycle is gimmicky, but it showcases how dangerous Elly is at the plate. With his league-leading 30 ft/s sprint speed, he can transform singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Very few shortstops have the skill sets to produce in both power and speed. With a full season, we could see Elly lead all SS in steals and finish top-5 in home runs. Let’s look at the leaders from 2023. 

Francisco Lindor3131160687
Bobby Witt Jr3049158694
Trea Turner2630155691
Anthony Volpe2124159601
CJ Abrams1847151614
Elly De La Cruz133598427

The Cooldown

After his electrifying first month of baseball, Elly ran into some trouble at the plate. After the All-Star break, he hit just .191 in his final 68 games with 105 strikeouts. It is a big change going from minor league ball to the majors and it isn’t surprising he struggled, but his 33.7% strikeout rate was 5th worst among all players with at least 400 plate appearances.

His strikeout rate did improve going into the end of the season, but it is a little worrisome that it stayed as high as it did for as long as it did. Adjustments can always be made but a 30% strikeout rate may be on the table in 2024. Plenty of power hitters were at around 30% last year including J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, and Teoscar Hernandez, but none of those guys are stealing 35 bags.

2024 Projections & Beyond

Elly is projected for 23 home runs and 39 stolen bases with a .242/.304/.437 slash rate in 2024 depending on the projection model. Assuming he plays more than the 130 games projected, we could easily see him hit or exceed these numbers.

The biggest question mark heading into this season is plate discipline.

Some projections have his strikeout rate at nearly 32% so he still needs some work, but the talent is there.

Elly’s ADP is currently sitting around pick 30 which feels a little high to me, but his potential is through the roof, and we’ve gotten a glimpse of his upside. If he falls into another extended cold streak, he will still get you steals and home runs, but you might sacrifice in batting average to get there.