4 signs Reds' shortstop Elly De La Cruz is already breaking out in 2024

These stats are beginning to show that Elly De La Cruz is figuring it out.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds know what they have in Elly De La Cruz. The talent is through the roof, and if De La Cruz finds a way for the potential to match the production, then the sky is the limit.

De La Cruz had his moments during his rookie season. Every Reds fan knows where they were when De La Cruz stole three bases in one plate appearance, including stealing home. But De La Cruz also had several missteps as well.

The Reds are barely into the 2024 season, but already De La Cruz has shown some signs of maturity. Is the Reds shortstop ready to break out this season? If so, why clues are exist that the 22-year-old is set to make a major splash this season?

4 signs Reds' SS Elly De La Cruz is already breaking out in 2024

Fair or not, De La Cruz has been anointed by the Reds fanbase. The Cincinnati faithful have not seen this type of talent since Jay Bruce debuted over a decade ago. While the raw tools are tantalizing, De La Cruz has some tangible numbers that suggest he's ready to become a superstar.

Elly De La Cruz is (almost) the fastest man in baseball

Every Reds fan knows how fast De La Cruz. Last season, De La Cruz's sprint speed was 30.5 feet per second. Only Bobby Witt Jr. matched De La Cruz step for step. In 2024, according to Baseball Savant, De La Cruz has some company. De La Cruz's sprint speed (29.9 feet per second) ranks fifth among all major league players so far this season.

If you want to suggest that De La Cruz has lost a step, go right ahead. But whether it's 30.5 feet per second or 29.9 feet per second, the Reds infielder is able to fly around the base paths. Elly's wheels have allowed him to track down balls in left field (twice) and record double-digit steals this season. De La Cruz has elite speed.

Elly De La Cruz is getting a bunch of barrels

Barrels and barrel rate have become rather popular terms in baseball's current age of analytics. But what is a barrel? According to MLB.com, a barrel is when the ball comes off the bat with an exit velocity of at least 98 mph and is launched a specific angle. That angle can vary based on the exit velocity. In layman's terms, it's a hard-hit ball with a tremendous chance to be an extra-base hit.

However the term makes sense to you, just know that De La Cruz is getting a bunch of them. The only player on the Reds with more barrels than De La Cruz may surprise some fans. Tyler Stephenson leads this year's Reds team in barrels and barrel rate, but is followed closely by De La Cruz.

Elly De La Cruz has seen a huge uptick in walk rate

Everybody knows that Elly is fast and can hit the ball hard. You don't necessarily need advanced metrics to tell you that. But the biggest development in De La Cruz's game thus far has been the increased number of walks he's drawn in 2024.

De La Cruz, while his strikeout rate is still above 30%, is also taking his base. De La Cruz has a 13.6% walk rate which is over 5% than it was in 2023. More walks means more times on base. More times on base means more opportunities to steal bases and score runs. This is a great sight for all of Reds Country.

Elly De La Cruz is getting on base with regularity

De La Cruz's walk rate and his on-base percentage go hand-in-hand. But De La Cruz ranks among the top-20 in baseball with a .402 on-base percentage. Spencer Steer is only Reds player with a higher OBP than De La Cruz this season.

If De La Cruz is on base almost 40% of the time, the rest of the league will be on notice. Pitchers get jittery when De La Cruz is on base. If he reaches safely two or more times per game, there's going to be chaos on the base paths and frustration on the mound.

Elly De La Cruz arrived in 2023, and fans were excited. De La Cruz is breaking out in 2024, and the opposition is afraid. Enjoy it, Reds fans. You don't see a player like this come around very often.

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