MLB.com's latest prediction laughably omits Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz

Betting against Elly De La Cruz's speed is unwise.

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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When you think of Elly De La Cruz, what comes to mind? While the Cincinnati Reds shortstop has enough pop in his bat to crush 30-plus homers every season, and his athleticism and arm strength could see him win multiple Gold Gloves, it's De La Cruz's speed that sets him apart from every other player in Major League Baseball.

De La Cruz burst onto the major league scene in 2023, and it was his blazing fast times up the first base line that caught the attention of baseball fans. Routine ground outs were infield singles when De La Cruz was running up the line. And no one will forget De La Cruz swiping three consecutive bases, including stealing home and scoring a run on the road in Milwaukee last summer.

But apparently the writers at MLB.com didn't get the memo. The outlet's latest predictions focused on the stolen base leaders for the 2024 season. Elly De La Cruz's name was nowhere to be found. De La Cruz's 30.5 feet per second sprint speed ranks among the best in baseball according to Baseball Savant.

Prediction laughably omits Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz

MLB.com asked a panel of five writers who should be the favorite to lead the majors in steals in 2024, and who might be a dark horse. Ronald Acuña Jr. led the way, and rightfully so after swiping 73 bags a year ago. Corbin Carroll, Estuery Ruiz, and Bobby Witt Jr. were all listed and received plenty of adulation as well. But Elly De La Cruz was absent from the list.

De La Cruz finished his rookie season with 35 stolen bases in just 98 games. That was good enough for ninth among all major leaguers in 2023, and no other player in the Top 25 appeared in less games. If De La Cruz were to have played in all 162 games last season, he was projected to have stolen 58 bases which would have placed him third, just ahead of Carroll (54).

The disrespect is mounting for the Reds ahead of the 2024 season, and perhaps David Bell's club will just use it as motivation heading into the upcoming season. Countless projections have the Reds, after winning 82 games a year ago and adding plenty of weapons during the offseason, finishing below .500 in 2024.

The lone factor that could keep De La Cruz from reaching 50-plus stolen bases during the upcoming season would be an inability to get on base. The 22-year-old had his fair share of struggles during 2023 and finished with a .300 on-base percentage.

But based on everything we're hearing out of spring training thus far, De La Cruz has been working on improving his plate discipline and worked out with perennial All-Star Juan Soto this winter. If De La Cruz adopts a more patient approach at the dish, and elevates his OBP to .330 or better, he might not only lead the majors in steals, but he'll be in the MVP conversation as well.

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