Will Elly De La Cruz Really Steal 100 Bases This Season?

Having already stolen 30 bases before reaching his 50th game played, Elly De La Cruz is on pace to join the elusive 100-stolen base club.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 10: Elly De La Cruz #44 of the Cincinnati Reds takes off from first base attempting to steal second against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning at Oracle Park on May 10, 2024 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

There’s few things I believe less than old baseball stories. Some guy from the 1920s will not convince me a player with a ridiculous name like “Bean stock Willie” hit a baseball 545 feet. “Rubber arm Randy” did not throw a guy out from the center field wall at the Polo Grounds. Elly De La Cruz did not steal 100 bases. Wait…wait.. wait…

When you think of the best base stealer your mind likely lands on Rickey Henderson. Rickey swiped 1,406 bags across 25 seasons cementing his name in the Hall of Fame and record books. In those 25 seasons, Henderson stole 100 or more only three times.

The last player to steal 100 bases in a season was Vince Coleman in 1987. Coleman finished with 752 stolen bases across 13 seasons. After starting his career with three straight 100 stolen base seasons, Coleman only topped 80 once more.

So, the last person to steal 100 was Coleman in 1987. The first to steal 100 was Billy Hamilton. Not the Billy you know, the Billy from the 1890s that played in Philly. The Billy Hamilton you know was also supposed to steal 100. Hell, he stole 155 in the minors in 2012. That Billy never delivered on the promise Reds fans were hoping for but maybe an Elly can.

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The 22 year-old shortstop moves like a Ferrari on the basepaths. Elly averages nearly 30 feet per second ranking him amongst the fastest players in the game. Not only is his top speed elite, but his quickness and acceleration are playing just as big of a part.

Elly has the speed and acceleration needed, that’s the first big checkmark. How about his jump, opportunities, and if he can get on base enough to make this possible.

Getting a good read on a pitcher is how most major leaguers have to steal bases. Elly not only gets the right reads, but even in times where he is off slightly his speed can make up the difference. He has the base stealer’s mentality and is not afraid of running in any situation against any pitcher. You need that type of swagger to reach 100 bags. I have no worries about Elly once he gets on the basepaths, but let’s talk about how often he can get there.

Through 48 games, Elly has an 11.2% walk rate, .262 average, and .355 on base percentage. All represent significant improvements from those numbers last season. He’s cut down his chase rate from 32% down to 27% and has improved across the board at the plate. He’s getting on base enough for this to be possible, but we need to compare it to the past 100 stolen base seasons.

A lot about the game has changed, so the comparison won’t be perfect.

NameYearSB by May 22Caught StealingOBP% (5/22)OBP (By and of Year)
Elly De La Cruz2024305.352N/A
Vince Coleman1987287.393.363
Rickey Henderson 1983124.457 .414

That’s not a typo for Rickey. He kicked it in gear once the weather heated up and stole 33 bags in July of ’83. But back to Elly. As you can see, he’s ahead of the previous two and running at a more efficient rate. Having a lower on base percentage, but also being more efficient makes for a combination that just might get it down. Of course, the “new rules” give Elly an advantage that’s tough to quantify.

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Another aspect to consider, the Reds offense has been terrible and relies on Elly to manufacture runs. When he’s on, he’s going. Doesn’t matter if he is on first or second he is looking to run. I don’t see the offense improving to the point that takes away opportunities for more stolen bases.

Speed, the right recipe for plenty of opportunities, and it all comes down to getting on base. He’s shown that ability through the first part of the season, but do you believe a .350+ OBP will hold?

If so, I think Elly reaches 100. I see it as a goal he wants and something that is important to him.

The Reds season has not gone to plan. The fans having a historic story to follow all season long might help soften the blow from a team currently in last in the NL Central.