Heading into the final weekend of the MLB season, nearly all of the races have been decided. But there is one intriguing race remaining, this one on the bases between speedsters Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon.
Hamilton stole his 59th base of the season on Thursday afternoon, putting the Cincinnati Reds outfielder atop the league in steals. He’s one ahead of Gordon, who also stole a base for the Miami Marlins on Thursday.
It was the first steal for Hamilton in five games since returning from the disabled list, missing two weeks with thumb fracture.
"That's one of the honors I'd love to have," Hamilton told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com on Sept. 20. "We've got two weeks and everybody's letting me know [Gordon’s] only three behind, so I've got to do what I can to keep it."
Major League Baseball hasn’t had multiple players reach 60 stolen bases in the same season since 2009, when Jacoby Ellsbury (70 steals), Michael Bourn (61), and Carl Crawford (60) turned the trick.
Hamilton finished second in the majors in steals in each of the last three seasons, with 56, 57 and then 58 stolen bases before getting to 59 this year. Gordon led the league in both 2014 and 2015 with 64 and 58 steals, respectively, but stole just 30 bases in 2016, a season that saw him suspended for 80 games for a positive PED test.
In 2017, Gordon is back to his 2014-15 form, and in the second half is hitting .317/.336/.383. He has nine steals in September, helping to close the gap on Hamilton, and on Tuesday, Gordon explained the method to his stolen base madness.
“To do this every day at a high level, you can’t be scared. You can’t be scared to fail,” Gordon said. “I don’t believe nobody can throw me out, but you know somebody will throw you out. People get lucky, man.”
With Gordon’s steals and Giancarlo Stanton’s 59 home runs — Stanton hit two more long balls on Thursday — the Marlins are just the third team in major league history with both a 50-homer player and a 50-steal player, joining the 1995 Cleveland Indians (Albert Belle 50 home runs, Kenny Lofton 54 steals) and 2000 Chicago Cubs (Sammy Sosa 50 home runs, Eric Young 54 steals).
Hamilton and the Reds conclude their season with three games this weekend against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, while the Marlins finish up with a series at home against the Atlanta Braves.