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Elly De La Cruz appears to be on a fast track to becoming one of the faces of baseball. The prized Reds rookie was sensational in his first week in Cincinnati, flashing all five tools that made his call-up one of the most anticipated events of the season to this point. One of those tools is impossible to ignore: speed.

De La Cruz isn’t just fast; he’s blazing, and he knows it. De La Cruz labeled himself “the fastest man in the world” after Saturday’s game, a claim that generated national attention.

It’s not uncommon for athletes to boast about their speed, but it’s remarkable for a player who stands 6-foot-5 to even be in the conversation for fastest player in baseball. 

It’s already clear De La Cruz can run with the best in the league, but where does he actually stand among all players so far?

FAGAN: Elly De La Cruz and his speed have Reds primed for playoff push

Here’s a look at the fastest players in the majors and where De La Cruz ranks. 

Fastest MLB players in 2023

Only seven players are averaging a sprint speed of more than 30 feet per second this season, and De La Cruz is one of them. For now, however, he isn’t the fastest player in baseball by that metric. Four players sit just above the Reds rookie, according to Baseball Savant: 

Player Sprint Speed (Feet per second) Team
Bobby Witt Jr. 30.4 Royals
Bubba Thompson* 30.4 Rangers
Trea Turner 30.3 Phillies
Corbin Carroll 30.2 Diamondbacks
Elly De La Cruz 30.1 Reds
Jose Azocar* 30.1 Padres
Jake McCarthy 30.1 Diamondbacks

* – Currently in minor leagues

De La Cruz might have a case for being the fastest player in baseball pretty soon, though. He earned an infield single by averaging 31.2 feet per second on his way to first base during Sunday’s win over the Cardinals.

If De La Cruz can get his average somewhere into that range, he would easily clear the rest of the list despite being so tall (Witt, for comparison, is listed at 6-1). 

The same player who might prevent De La Cruz from winning the NL Rookie of the Year award might also prevent him from being the fastest player in baseball. Diamondbacks star Corbin Carroll flashed ridiculous speed on his way to what seemed like an unlikely triple on Sunday. Carroll led the league in sprint speed last season after playing only one month.

MORE: Is it worth betting on Elly De La Cruz for NL Rookie of the Year?

Elly De La Cruz 60-yard dash time

Scouts tend to emphasize players’ 60-yard dash times rather than the 40-yard dash because baseball requires players to run longer distances. Outfielders often need to run extended distances to catch fly balls in the outfield, while a double is exactly 60 yards — or 180 feet.

Unfortunately, there is no verified data for how fast De La Cruz runs the 60-yard dash. If he sustained his sprint speed for a full 60 yards, however, he would run it in 5.98 seconds.

It’s virtually impossible to sustain that exact speed for a full 60 yards, but anything between 6 and 6.5 seconds is truly excellent. Former Reds speedster Billy Hamilton came in at 6.2 seconds before he was drafted, and De La Cruz’s speed compares to Hamilton’s so far.

Is Elly De La Cruz faster than Billy Hamilton?

De La Cruz has a case to say he’s faster than Hamilton, who once stole 155 bases in a minor-league season.

Baseball Savant’s sprint speed data only goes back to 2015, Hamilton’s second full season in the majors. Hamilton averaged 29.8 feet per second in 2015, 30.2 in 2016, and 30.2 in 2017. De La Cruz is averaging 30.1 feet per second after his first week with the Reds, so he’s right there with Hamilton’s best seasons despite his size. (Hamilton is 6-foot, 160 pounds — 40 pounds lighter than De La Cruz.)

Today, De La Cruz is decisively faster than Hamilton, who averaged 29.0 feet per second in limited time last season. Hamilton became a sensation because of his outstanding speed, but what makes De La Cruz so intriguing is the fact he pairs his speed with an extremely powerful bat.

Speed is making a comeback as stolen base rates increase around the league, and players such as De La Cruz and Carroll seem like they will be among the fastest players in baseball for years to come.



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