Cardinals' NL Central record in jeopardy of being broken by rival

Elly De La Cruz is on pace to break St. Louis Cardinal legend Vince Coleman's stolen base record.
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

Elly De La Cruz is an elite base stealer. With his 6-foot-5-inch frame and blazing speed, stealing bags is like taking candy from a baby for him. Through just 49 games this year, Cruz has swiped 30 bags, far and away the most in Major League Baseball this year. According to Baseball Savant, Cruz is the 3rd-fastest player in baseball with an average sprint speed of 30 miles per hour.

Why does this matter to the St. Louis Cardinals, you may ask? Well, two reasons. First, Cruz plays for the Cincinnati Reds, a divisional rival of the team. Second, the record for stolen bases in a single season for any team in the National League Central division is currently held by a former Cardinal: Vince Coleman.

Coleman played for the Cardinals from 1985 until 1990, and he set records for stolen bases. In each of his years in St. Louis, Coleman at least led the National League in stolen bases, and he occasionally even led all of baseball in stolen bases. His rookie season, 1985, featured him stealing 110 bags, a record that holds true to this day in the NL Central. He would go on to steal 107 bases in 1986 and 109 in 1987.

110 stolen bases is the record in the National League Central by a large margin. Omar Moreno of the Pittsburgh Pirates has the second-most swipes in the division with 90. He reached that threshold in 1980. Bill Lange of the Chicago Cubs stole 84 bases way back in 1896 to set Chicago's franchise record. Bob Bescher stole 81 bags in 1911 for the Cincinnati Reds, and his mark remains the most in franchise history. Lastly, Scott Podsednik of the Milwaukee Brewers stole 70 bases in 2004, a total that hasn't been surpassed since for the Brew Crew.

Cruz hasn't stolen a base in his last 5 games, but he stole 4 bases against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 16th. He has the potential to steal multiple bases in any given game.

With 112 games to go, Cruz is on pace to steal 98 bases this year. In order to surpass Coleman's record, Cruz would have to steal 81 more bases meaning he would have to steal a bag in 70% of the team's remaining games. He would have to step it up to beat Coleman's 110-bag record for the National League Central. That's a fair amount of ground to make up in short order, but it's possible nonetheless.