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2024 Fantasy Baseball Hitter Sleepers Based On September Speed Surges

Elly De La Cruz - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

We have entered an era in baseball where speed and stolen bases are more valuable than ever. With the rule changes in 2023, teams took advantage of running more, leading to greater fantasy value on expected and unexpected players who surged in stolen bases.

Last year in MLB, players recorded 3,503 stolen bases. This was the second most in the previous 100 seasons. The more alarming stat was the 80.2% success rate - the highest ever recorded in MLB.

Today, we will look at three hitters who took a step forward in their speed numbers in September - hopefully providing us with value in our fantasy drafts that can lead to sustained success for a season.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Elly De La Cruz (SS, Cincinnati Reds)

September stats: .200/.313/.306, 12 SB

Let's get into the ever-so-controversial debate on Elly De La Cruz and his ADP this season. It feels like all over X; the fantasy community is split on Mr. De La Cruz and his outlook for 2024. He is either going over-drafted or under-drafted and nothing in between.

I am in the boat to believe that Elly is going under-drafted, and there still is value in the pick. ATC projections agree with me having Elly as the 30th pick and his average ADP at 52.3 --- a 22-pick value.

He showed flashes of greatness in 2023 but only slashed .235/.300/.410 with an 84 wRC+. He added 13 HRs and 35 SBs in 98 games. The stolen base upside alone should warrant his ADP, and if he can figure the bat out, I would not be surprised to see a 25/50 type of season out of him.

Last September, Elly struggled with the bat, only hitting .200 with an OBP of .313. He still managed to steal 12 bases in the month, although getting on base at a much lower clip than the others at the top of the list. The speed is there and has always been, as he stole 47 bases in 2022 in the minor leagues.

ATC has a projection of .248/.311/.443, 21 HRs, and 36 SB for Elly this season. If he can slash anything around those numbers and play an entire season, he will push the 50 stolen base mark or more.

This ADP has so much upside, and I believe he played to his floor last season. I want to take these types of players in rounds four and five of drafts, as they have the upside to be top 10 players at season's end.

 

Nolan Jones (OF, Colorado Rockies)

September stats: .350/.460/.631, 11 SB

I will sound like a broken record here because I wrote up Nolan Jones in my 2024 Fantasy Baseball Hitter Sleepers Based On September Power Surges article. However, what he did in September was a true fantasy goldmine.

Jones had a breakout campaign in Coors Field last season. He slashed .297/.389/.542, adding 20 SBs to his resume. He did all this in only 424 plate appearances. ATC has his projection this year at .273/.363/.490, 25 HR, and 20 SB in 576 plate appearances.

Jones turned it on in September. He was third in baseball with 11 SBs in the month. The more encouraging thing was he only stole 20 SBs throughout the 2023 season. More than 50% of those came in September.

We know Jones can hit, but if stolen bases are something he can add to the arsenal, and somehow he can eclipse the 30 or 35 stolen base mark, Jones will have first-round appeal heading into 2025.

Most projection sites, including ATC, have Jones around the 20 SB mark, but I am finding it hard to figure out. Stealing 11 SBs in a month should push him to improve his technique this offseason, knowing it's in the arsenal. The Rockies will let him run, as proven in September, and not to sound too harsh, what do they have to lose?

I would expect Jones to get steamed up in the preseason, but his current ADP has him as my top value on the board. He is currently getting drafted around pick 90. The award-winning ATC projections at RotoBaller have Jones as the 62nd-ranked player -- a near 30-place value.

If Jones can stay healthy, I predict a 30/30 season.

 

Jacob Young (OF, Washington Nationals)

September stats: .267/.337/.349, 11 SB

The former seventh-round pick out of Florida burst onto the scene last September, thrusting himself into the 2024 mix. In 2023, Young climbed the ranks playing at Single-A Wilmington, Double-A Harrisburg, and a short stint in Triple-A Rochester. He hit over .300 at every level of the minor leagues last season and stole a combined 39 bags.

Young was called up after the unfortunate injury to Stone Garrett. In his 26 games in the big leagues after the call-up, Young continued his success, slashing .267/.337/.349. He stole 11 bags and didn't get thrown out a single time.

Young has some extreme talent behind him, including the organization's top prospect and 2023 second-overall selection, Dylan Crews. Still, he won't be expected to make the major league roster come opening day.

Victor Robles is still there, so there are obstacles in front of Young on the current roster. I believe Young will win the opening-day job in center field, and at that point, it'll be a waiting game until Crews and company breakthrough into the big leagues.

Young is going undrafted, and rightfully so, because of the many unknowns. He is a perfect filler early in the season to get us stolen base upside and a draftable player in deeper leagues, best ball, or NL-only formats.

 



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