The Cincinnati Reds’ inimitable speed demon, center fielder Billy Hamilton, has turned on the burners and his hitting stroke over the past couple of weeks, which has put him in a position where he might be able to meet some of the loftier expectations set for him at the outset of 2014, including winning the NL Rookie of the Year.
In his last 11 games, Hamilton has shot his batting average up from .247 to .273 and his OBP from .283 to .309. During that span, Hamilton has stolen eight bases to drive his total for the season to 31.
Hamilton would have to have a second half for the ages in order to surpass the all-time record for most stolen bases by a rookie (Vince Coleman 110 SBs in 1985), but he does have a realistic chance to become the second-most proficient rookie base-stealer in modern baseball history. Juan Samuel stole 72 bases as a rookie in 1984, and if Hamilton can continue to hit and reach base the way he has over the past two weeks, he’ll mark his name in the rookie record books right behind Coleman.
Hamilton also has a chance to set franchise records for the Reds. Since the turn of the 20th century, the Reds’ rookie single-season record for most stolen bases is 54 by Bob Bescher. Hamilton is well on his way to surpass that mark.
Bescher also hold the team single-season record for most SBs (81 in 1911). Eric Davis stole 80 in 1986, and Dave Collins swiped 79 in 1980. A healthy Billy Hamilton who continues to improve at the speed he’s improved over the past two weeks should have no problem becoming the Reds’ all-time rookie and single-season stolen base leader.
If he can accomplish that, the NL ROY would surely be a lock.