ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina seemingly didn't have a kryptonite during his first eight years in the Major Leagues, until Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton ran onto the scene in 2013. Hamilton is now 20-for-22 in stolen-base attempts against the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina seemingly didn't have a kryptonite during his first eight years in the Major Leagues, until Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton ran onto the scene in 2013. Hamilton is now 20-for-22 in stolen-base attempts against the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner after stealing three more bases in a 7-4 victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday.
He has nine stolen bases over his last three games to bring his total to 48 for the season, and Hamilton is now ahead of Jonathan Villar by three for the Major League lead.
"It's always good to lead the league in something," Hamilton said. "For me, just to keep the pace I'm on right now is always good. For me getting on base has been helping me out a lot lately."
Hamilton singled in his first at-bat Tuesday, then reached second on an error before he was picked off by Cardinals starter and former teammate Mike Leake.
"A lot of guys would have shut it down after that," Hamilton said. "But that's just something where I feel confident and I got picked off, but I've got to come back out next time and try to get you."
He responded by stealing second after he reached first with a single and two walks over the rest of the game. Hamilton came around to score each time.
"He exposes your weaknesses pretty easily," Leake said. "He's gotten better, I feel like. He looks like he has a good idea of what to do. He does make it something to think about, for sure."
His 20 stolen bases against Molina are the most by any baserunner against the Cards catcher, and Hamilton is now the first player with at least 45 stolen bases in three consecutive seasons since Michael Bourn from 2009-11. His newfound patience at the plate is playing a large part in Hamilton's recent success.
"The other thing that's been big is the base on balls for him," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Not expanding the zone early and getting yourself out on a pitcher's pitch. That comes with experience and learning."
Don't confuse Hamilton's dominance over Molina with a lack of respect for him. He holds Molina in high regard, but has gotten the best of him in his career.
"You always look forward to going against the best and seeing what you can do," Hamilton said.
Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.