Cincinnati Reds’ center fielder Billy Hamilton has 55 steals going into the weekend. He has done so at age 23. The feat is impressive. Since 1999 only 8 total players in the majors have over 50 steals in a season in which they were 23 or younger. Plus, if he can get to 60 by years end, then only himself and Jose Reyes will have 60 or more steals at age 23 or younger for a season since 1999. Reyes had 60 steals in 2005 and 64 in 2006.
Because of his running prowess, I believe Billy Hamilton will be the landslide winner for the Rookie of the Year award in 2014. The last rookie to steal 50 bases was Jacoby Ellsbury in 2008 when he swiped exactly 50 bases, the 3rd highest mark of his 8 year career. The last rookie prior to that was Hanley Ramirez in 2006 when he stole 51 bases. Hanley then duplicated the same amount in 2007, but since then has only reached 30 or more stolen bases twice in his 10 year career with only 12 this season.
But, just for a bit of historical perspective. The all-time stolen base leader, Rickey Henderson, had amassed 319 career steals through age 23. That included 130 steals in his age 23 season. Rickey played baseball for 25 years and holds the record for number of career steals with 1406. If Billy wants to think about catching up to Rickey, he needs to steal 74 bases this year as well as the next 24 years thereafter.