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Published on September 8th, 2014 | by Baseball Babble

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Billy Hamilton Running Away with Rookie of the Year

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.

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  • Dan

    It’s not his year 23 season as he turns 24 today. In addition, his caught stealing percentage is LOW for an “elite” baserunner. His OPS sits at a subpar .671 right now and has steadily been dropping. “Running away” with the ROY is a gross overstatement.

    • Michael Ballentine

      If not Hamilton, then who would you choose?

      • Dan

        I brought up the age issue because you compare him to other “23 year old players.” Both statisticians and legitimate baseball reference sites refer to a player’s “season age” as the one that he reaches DURING the season (unless the player has an offseason birthday.)

        You’re right you didn’t mention the word elite, but when discussing one’s steals, I believe steal/caught ratio is always quite pertinent, especially, when comparing him to other elite base stealers.

        Check out Jason deGrom. Two more excellent starts and I believe the award is his.

        • Michael Ballentine

          I like deGrom as well. In fact I have him on all 3 of my fantasy leagues. But, he is currently only 2 games over .500 at 8-6. And he only has 20 starts. The problem I have with pitchers being Rookie of the Year is that so far this year he has only been able to help or hurt his team in 20 of their games. By seasons end he will have only participated in 22-24 of the 162 games played for the Mets. Hamilton will, in turn, effect around 150 games.

    • Michael Ballentine

      It is true Billy turned 24 yesterday. Not all ballplayers can have their birthdays in the off-season. He is going to play every game except 20 of them as a 23 year old, I think that qualifies. I did not call Hamilton “elite” you can not be considered “elite” when you get caught stealing 21 times in a single season and your OBP is less than .300. He clearly has some things to work on but he is the best rookie in the National League.

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