The Cincinnati Reds are enjoying a fantastic season so far in 2012 and the news seems to be getting better every day. Reds minor leaguer Billy Hamilton stole his 146th base on August 21, 2012 to break Vince Coleman's record from 1983 for steals in a single season by a minor league player. There was a time when that record seemed untouchable. Given that the Reds biggest weakness right now is the leadoff position in the lineup, one can visualize an even better team in the future with Hamilton. As a huge Cincinnati Reds fan, I certainly can't wait to see him make noise on the major league base paths.
An Unexpected Explosion
Everybody knew that Billy Hamilton could steal bases. Few likely expected him to go out and do what he has done in 2012, however. Hamilton stole 104 bases with Class A Bakersfield in the first half of the season. That put the record squarely in his sights. Then he was promoted to Pensacola in the Southern League. Hamilton never let his foot off the gas and now sits in a position to make the record even more unreachable.
A Combination of Speed and Vision
Hamilton has done an excellent job of getting on base with a .417 on base percentage to go with his .317 average. He has drawn 80 walks during the 2012 season which has afforded him the chance to truly push for the record. Hamilton has also gone over the century mark with 104 runs scored on the year. The real value in his season, however, has been the havoc he has created in setting the record. The speedster has created a ton of errors for the opposition while running around.
Still in the Minors?
There are a number of reasons why Billy Hamilton is still in the minor leagues despite the Reds needing a leadoff hitter. The most obvious reason is because he simply is not ready on the defensive side of the ledger. Though he makes some incredible plays, he also still makes far too many errors. He has 70 errors over the course of his last two seasons. Another reason is because he has rookie of the year candidate Zack Cozart ahead of him. Whatever the case, the Reds will need to make a spot for him if he continues to develop at this rate.
What is exciting about Billy Hamilton is the potential he adds to future Reds' lineups. I can totally imagine him wreaking havoc on the league and setting the table regularly for this awesome lineup.
*Southern is a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan that grew up watching Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and the boys dominate the Major Leagues. He longs for those days once again in Cincinnati.
More from this contributor:Zack Cozart Looking like the Real Deal for the Cincinnati Reds: Fan's Opinion
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