09 Mar

steal this bag

To no one’s surprise, stolen bases are up significantly in spring training games this year. With a pitch clock, new pickoff rules and bigger bases, this was bound to happen. And this is great news for players whose main tool is speed. A shining example: former Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton. Hamilton, 32 and several years removed from being a big league regular, is in the Chicago White Sox’s camp as a non-roster invitee. Thanks to the MLB changes for 2023, he stands a good chance of making the club out of spring training as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. If Hamilton isn’t the fastest player in baseball, he’s in the top five. He famously swiped 155 bases in a minor league season and is the all-time MLB steals leader among Mississippi natives with 324. He has an 82 percent career success rate. He stole 10 bases in 11 attempts last season, when he got just one hit in 20 at-bats while with Miami and Minnesota. He is 1-for-10 as a hitter this spring but is 2-for-2 in steals and has scored four runs in eight games. When he gets on, he can get over and get in — and have a major impact this season in a limited role. … Tim Anderson, the White Sox shortstop and former East Central Community College star, also figures to see a jump in his stolen base numbers this season. Anderson went 13-for-13 last year, when he played in just 79 games because of injuries, and has 104 steals in his seven big league seasons. His season-high is 26, which he could certainly threaten in 2023.

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