The Reds emerged from their 8-4 win over the Braves on Saturday night with that gaudy stolen-base success rate. They've stolen 29 of 30 bases. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cincinnati is the first team since stolen base information began being recorded to go 29 for its first 30.
"It's just taking what's there," Reds manager Bryan Price said before the game. "It's not forcing things. It's not trying to force something that's not there. You get a [pitcher] that's got bad times to the plate. We've run on some good catchers. We talk about Billy [Hamilton], but you see, where Brandon [Phillips], Joey [Votto], [Todd] Frazier, [Zack] Cozart, [Jay Bruce], they're all swiping bags because we're just trying to take advantage of what's there to take."
Proof that it's not just Hamilton came Friday night, as the Reds went 5-for-5 in stolen bases -- none of them by Hamilton, the Majors' stolen base leader, with 13. Phillips and Votto each had two, with Cozart picking up the other.
The Reds' success is up dramatically from 2014, when they stole 122 but were caught 52 times, a 70.1 percent success rate.
"We've just been smarter this year than we were last year," said Hamilton. "We had a bunch of baserunning mistakes last year that we wanted to fix this year."
Ironically, Hamilton, the only player in the Majors with double-digit steals entering Saturday, also has the ignominy of being the only Red to get caught trying to steal -- Milwaukee catcher Martin Maldonado got him at second in the sixth inning on April 23. No Red was caught before that -- as Cincinnati started the year 19-for-19 -- and none has been caught since, heading into Saturday night.
"It's fun to see everybody being aggressive," said Hamilton. "We've been taking pride in it. It's been good."
It's been especially good for the run producers.
"We have guys that are smart, that do their homework and understand the way to run the bases," said third baseman Todd Frazier, who is 3-for-3 in stolen-base attempts. "We have coaches that work tirelessly in helping us and showing us when good times are to go, what counts. It all adds up. We have some sneaky speed guys, so if we get good jumps, we're going to have a better chance."
Price believes the Reds could race to an elite level offensively.
"Last year, I think we pushed it a little bit more, just because we weren't doing a lot offensively," he said. "This year, I think we're built more to be more of a dynamic offensive team. Even though we haven't gotten to that point yet, we're working in that direction."