[learn_more caption="All Star Repost" state="open"] This was originally posted a year ago at this time and is unedited. With Billy Hamilton having some success as a pinch runner late in 2013 we felt it had value in revisiting it one more time. [/learn_more]
Billy Hamilton won’t see much major league time in 2013, if any. Zack Cozart plays a solid shortstop and Dusty Baker is notorious in his preference for veterans and misuse of rookies. Hamilton is being played in CF, but the reality is that he needs a little more time to develop.
IT’S JUST THAT I SO BADLY WANT BILLY HAMILTON TO GET CALLED UP! I WANT! I WANT! I WANT!
Let me rewind a bit and give you some context just in case you are wondering why I’m being such a freakish spaziod about Billy Hamilton. Hamilton is the 22-year-old minor leaguer in the Reds organization. Last year he broke Vince Coleman‘s nearly 30-year-old minor league stolen base record by stealing an unbelievable 155 bases.
Let 155 stolen bases sink in. (I’ll wait.)
Now, let’s begin to put that into fantasy baseball perspective. The major league leaders the last two years have been 61 by Michael Bourn in 2011 and the 49 by Mike Trout in 2012. We have to go back to the Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson 80′s years for the last time a player has had over 100 stolen bases in the major leagues. Billy Hamilton could perform in record setting territory.
155 stolen bases is an absolute game changer in regards to fantasy baseball. In a couple of leagues I was in last year, 135 and 156 stolen bases won maximum points in those leagues. Given that that’s total stolen bases for the entire team, Billy Hamilton could singlehandedly give you a leg up in your league (pun intended).
So even though I’ve historically not given stolen bases a ton of attention as a fantasy baseball owner, I can’t help but get excited about the possibilities that Billy Hamilton could bring to fantasy baseball.
So let’s do something crazy! I’ll admit that my math will be suspect and my judgment poor, but I want to toss out a little thought experiment as to what Billy Hamilton’s fantasy baseball potential could be, even if he plays entirely as a pinch runner. We’ll need 3 things:
- An estimate of how many time he’ll get on base,
- a figure to determine his steal attempts once on base,
- and a number to determine his success rate.
Billy Hamilton attempted a stolen base in over 92% of his opportunities in the minors, which is simply bat-poop bananas. So if he’d come into the game as a pinch runner, he’d try to take a base or two. Guaranteed. Heck, get him some coaching by Hall of Famer Rod Carew and Hamilton just might turn into a threat to steal home on a regular basis as well.
You’d have to think that he’d get an opportunity to come into in every game, being that he’d play for a NL team. Certainly there would be a good excuse during a pitching change for Hamilton to get into the game, but let’s be pretty conservative and say he’d get into only 140 games. We’ve already determined that he’ll try to take a base over 90% of the time so we have 128 stolen base attempts and we haven’t even factored in if he’d try for third after he’d already taken second!
Remember, conservatively he has 128 theoretical stolen base attempts and he hasn’t even lifted a bat because we’re – for fun – just talking about him as a pinch runner. For his career in the minors he’s attempted 330 stolen bases and has only been caught 71 times, for a 79% success rate. His rate has trended even better as he’s gotten more experience, but he’d be running against Yadier Molina in the majors, so let’s bump him down to a 75% success rate.
Without factoring in that he might go for 3B as well, that gives him 96 stolen bases as just a pinch runner!
Since we’re just doing this as a silly thought experiment, I don’t want to get into his potential runs scored and how he’d contribute no RBI, homers, or have any contribution in regards to AVG. But last year he had over a .400 OBP between single and double A so no one is thinking that he’ll be completely lost at the plate.
Look, I know these are the outlandish thoughts of a crazy man and that Hamilton won’t make the roster simply as a pinch runner. But I wanted to string a few numbers and words together to get you to start thinking differently about how an exciting player such as Billy Hamilton could upend fantasy baseball strategy by simply using his legs.