Oh boy! This one is going to be fun. Elly De La Cruz burst onto scene in 2023 and set the baseball world on fire with speed, power, and cannon for an arm.
Very few players in the history of Major League Baseball possess the type of raw tools that De La Cruz exhibits on the diamond. The key word there is "raw".
Now before I get into the meat of De La Cruz's rookie campaign, let's all understand that the Cincinnati Reds shortstop is just 21 years old. While that's not an excuse for some of the mistakes De La Cruz made during his rookie season, I think everyone needs to take a deep breath when evaluating his first year in the big leagues.
Reds report card: Grading Elly De La Cruz's electric 2023 season
Elly De La Cruz made his major league debut in early-June and once that happened, the entire landscape for the Cincinnati Reds and their fanbase changed. De La Cruz brought electricity back to Great American Ball Park.
De La Cruz's speed is unmatched by any player in Major League Baseball. According to Baseball Savant, De La Cruz is the fastest man in the sport. His ability to steal bases and his instincts on the base paths led to exciting plays and a lot of chaos for the opposition.
De La Cruz also possesses tremendous pop. The rookie sent balls out of the yard with relative ease and his maximum exit velocity was among the tops in the league. The talent is there.
But, there's a big difference between finding success in the minor leagues and making that leap to the big leagues. De La Cruz found that out firsthand during Year 1 of his major league career. As much success as De La Cruz had during the first two months of his rookie season, he had just as many struggles over the last few months.
Elly De La Cruz led the team with 144 strikeouts on the season. Spencer Steer was second on that list, but De La Cruz played in 60 fewer games. That's an area of his game that will need to be addressed.
De La Cruz has an absolute cannon for an arm. His arm strength ranks in the 98th percentile according to Baseball Savant. But the rookie phenom did commit 13 errors in 2023. Those miscues brought his fielding percentage down to .960. De La Cruz was, however, worth 4 outs above average.
It was an up-and-down season for Elly De La Cruz littered with highlight reel occasions and embarrassing moments as well. The future in bright for for the 21-year-old, and De La Cruz has the potential to be one of the biggest stars in baseball.