Which speedy shortstop should fantasy managers invest in? | Baseball Bar-B-Cast

Yahoo Sports senior MLB analysts Jordan Shusterman and Jake Mintz are joined by fantasy baseball analyst Dalton Del Don to compare Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz and Reds shortshop Elly De La Cruz ahead of the 2024 season. Hear the full conversation on “Baseball Bar-B-Cast” podcast - and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

JORDAN SHUSTERMAN: Elly De La Cruz and Oneil Cruz who, fair or not, have been compared a lot. If their name was not both Cruz, would we still be making these comparisons? The answer is yes. Because there are only so many 6 foot 6, 6 foot 7 shortstops who can throw the ball 150 miles an hour and hit the ball 150 miles an hour. That is what both of these guys are, and now they both exist in the NL Central.

Obviously, from a fantasy context, I'm sure you're focused on the power-speed combinations. But it seems like you are optimistic on both of these, that they can hit enough to be worthwhile players.

DALTON DEL DON: Yeah, I get it. De La Cruz is this year's most polarizing fantasy player. His range of outcomes literally includes 20 homers, 50 steals, to being demoted to the minors. I mean, there is still talk of that. And the Reds are absolutely loaded with young talent. And this is a player that had a 62 WRC+ in the second half last year. But he also hit 13 homers and swiped 35 bags in fewer than 100 games as a 21-year-old while doing that in the second half.

I don't know what to make of his swinging. He really adjusted at the plate last year. Basically, he swung the least amount of any hitter in baseball in September. But I think he's going to make adjustments as a 21-year-old with this freakish athletic talent. And in fantasy, it's just a gold mine with the steal and homer combination. So, yes, there's a risk, but I'm willing to take it.

He can play defense. That's why I think part of the problem-- it will help him not be demoted. Not only is he the face of the franchise, but the guy can play defense. So I think that helps him as well.

JAKE MINTZ: Yeah, I'm a little more skeptical about Oneil's defense and the idea that that-- it's so complicated. OK, so Oneil's defense is worse, right? But Oneil is more guaranteed to play regularly because the Pirates are more reliant on him from a roster-building perspective. However, it's like, OK, do you trust Oneil's approach to improve or Elly's approach to improve more? Because Oneil just missed like a whole season of games.

However, he's older. He has more experience that would make you want to trust him a little bit more. I think as a whole, I lean towards Elly. And I think that is a flawed perspective, even as I just said it, because I think we're underrating Oneil a little bit and that if Elly didn't exist, we as an industry, on the fantasy side and not, would be gung ho over Oneil. Elly has warped our brains.


JAKE MINTZ: Oneil was unlike anything we'd ever seen, and then Elly showed up.

JORDAN SHUSTERMAN: The next year. And that's not really fair.

DALTON DEL DON: Yeah, just to finish on Oneil. I didn't touch on as much, but he has the hardest-hit ball in Statcast history. You look at his career numbers compared to Elly, very similar, except the stolen bases. So he's just a reasonable facsimile to De La Cruz, only three rounds later in fantasy. So why not draft both those is what I say. I mean, I like both these guys' upside.