Could Billy Hamilton steal 100 bases this season?

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Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton is 6-for-6 stealing bases in his first three games to start the season. According to Baseball Reference, Hamilton is the first player with six steals through his team’s first three games since Vince Coleman accomplished the feat in 1987 for the Cardinals. Coleman stole 109 bases that year, the last player to reach triple digits in stolen bases.

In 611 plate appearances for the Reds last season, Hamilton stole 56 bases but led the league in times caught stealing at 23, giving him an average 71 percent success rate. He hit just .250 with a .292 on-base percentage. It goes without saying that if he had been able to reach base a few more times, he would have more opportunities to steal bases. Hamilton hit .256 against Triple-A pitching in 2013 and .286 against Double-A pitching the season prior. He hasn’t yet shown himself to be the type of player who can hit for a high average or draw walks at a high frequency.

It isn’t totally necessary to hit for a high average to rack up the steals. Coleman hit just .232 in 1986 when he led the league with 107 stolen bases. However, he drew walks in nine percent of his plate appearances (Hamilton was below six percent last year). He also stole third base frequently and was quite efficient, going 76-for-84 (90.5%) at second base and 31-for-36 (86%) at third base. Hamilton stole third 14 times in 17 attempts last season, accounting for 21.5% of his stolen base attempts. About 30 percent of Coleman’s stolen base attempts were at third base.

There are many ways to accrue a lot of stolen bases. The two main avenues are bulk attempts and efficiency. If Hamilton doesn’t improve much in the average or on-base departments, he’ll have to attempt to steal with much higher frequency, especially at third base, and he’ll have to do so much more efficiently. But if anyone is going to reach 100-plus stolen bases, it’s Hamilton.

Red Sox place Chris Sale on 10-day injured list

Chris Sale
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Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale has been placed on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation, the club revealed Saturday. The assignment is retroactive to August 14. In a corresponding roster move, right-handed reliever Ryan Brasier was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

It’s an alarming development for the 30-year-old ace, who has been remarkably injury-free after dealing with a lingering case of shoulder inflammation last summer. While he hasn’t replicated the career-high results he delivered over the last two seasons, he still leads Red Sox pitchers with 3.6 fWAR and will head to the IL with a 6-11 record in 25 starts, a 4.40 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, and league-best 13.3 SO/9 through 147 1/3 innings. A timetable has not been given for his return, nor has the severity of his injury been disclosed. Per Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, Sale has been experiencing pain in his elbow since Wednesday and will undergo further evaluation in the days to come.

Brasier, 31, was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-July after pitching to mixed results in the majors. He currently holds a 4.46 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 8.0 SO/9 with the Red Sox, though his results in Triple-A — one run, one walk, and 13 strikeouts over 9 1/3 innings — suggest that he might be capable of even sharper results when he rejoins the big league club.