And that might be conservative. I’ve seen people projecting him to steal 60, 70, or even 80 bases since that’s what recent league leaders have done. However, I see no reason to try to project Hamilton’s steals by comparing him to recent league leaders. He is not any of those other players and has demonstrated that he is clearly an anomaly in terms of speed, which means that it makes sense to treat him as an individual case. Anyway, here’s my thinking, assumptions, and the Billy Hamilton steal calculation:

500 at bats x .295 OBP x running 80% of time x successful 85% of time = 100 SBs

Well, it actually equals 100.3, but who’s counting? Let’s go through the assumptions one at a time. Could he get less than 500 at bats? Sure, but it’s also possible that he gets more than 500. It’s important to remember that even if he starts fewer games, he could still make up for it by entering the game as a pinch runner. I think a .295 OBP is a reasonable expectation, despite concerns about his hitting. He is fast enough where he should be able to beat out routine ground outs, which, in turn, should raise his batting average on balls in play significantly. I think 80% of the time he’s on first base he’ll be running because, while he’d like to attempt every time, sometimes he may have a runner blocking him at second base. This does not include the potential for him stealing third base, which could add double digit steals next season. Hamilton being successful 85% of the time also seems reasonable to me based on his numbers in the minors and majors.

Now, back to what is always in the back of my mind: OPS leagues. In all likelihood, he will not have an OPS that will help your team. Although, he will have the great benefit of allowing you to carry fewer players who provide steals at the expense of your on-base and slugging categories. Additionally, since he may enter some games as a pinch runner, he will occasionally be able to provide you with steals without impacting your OPS. His OBP could surprise since he was able to walk at a decent rate in the minors, though it remains to be seen how well that will translate to the majors. Regardless, I’m definitely interested and plan to pick him a couple rounds earlier then I think he will normally be drafted, since I anticipate that questions about his hitting will suppress his price.

Tom Jacks is sporadically on Twitter @votetomjacks

## 35 Responses (Jump straight to the comment form)

1. apoxonbothyourhouses says:

if you think he’ll have a .295 OBP, then he’ll steal 100.

However, that .306 OBP in AAA and CAREER 451:215 K:BB ratio in the minors is VERY alarming. I hope the kid can put it together, as his speed is otherworldly and can single-handedly win people fantasy leagues. Yet, I’m not confident he’ll be anything other than Dee Gordon with more hype.

• Tom Jacks says:

@apoxonbothyourhouses: True, his AAA wasn’t what you’d like to see. However, I don’t completely discount his minor league numbers in 2012. I believe he has a real chance of producing a slightly less than .300 OBP, which may be a little too optimistic, but also isn’t something completely unrealistic.

2. Matt L says:

Your assumption that he’ll attempt 80% of times on first seems wrong. If the guy in front of him has a .300 obp, wouldn’t we expect he’ll be blocked at 2nd 30% of the time? And the guy in front of that might still be on, too. I’m sure there are statistics on what percent of time average hitter (or better yet, reds 8 hitter) batted with no ducks on pond. Or what percent of time Hamilton did in minors. Either of those would be better starting assumptions.

• Tom Jacks says:

@Matt L: My thoughts are what Jeff said below about a 300 obp not meaning the guy is on second when you’re on first 30% of the time. I agree that it would be helpful to use the percentage based on where he’s batting but, at least when I wrote this, it wasn’t clear where Hamilton would be batting. I also imagine that that number would vary depending on the obp of the hitters in front of you.

3. Count de monetball says:

Tom, I have to agree with Matt L. While 100 SB’s are clearly possible, running 80% of the time seems way high to the reasons matt L. noted. 60-70 seems like the ceiling due to runners in front of him. If you added in 10-20 steals of third base beyond the formula you presented, that seems a much more likely scenerio – 500 at bats x .295 OBP x running 60% of time x successful 85% of time = 75 SBs +15 steals of 3rd base =90 SB’s. I think it would take an OBP higher than .295 for him to reach 100 SB’s. It would probably be easier to project this if you knew how many times he steals third base per year, as I just guessed 10-20 times and concluded at 15… Just a thought, but nonetheless, he will be exciting this year.

• Tom Jacks says:

@Count de monetball: I think it will be less than the 30% being blocked as Jeff noted below, but I agree that 80% may be the best case scenario. I like your third base steals projection, 10-15 seems possible for Mr. Hamilton. And yes, it should be a very exciting year. I’m just crossing my fingers that he reaches that number of at bats…

4. Jeff says:

.300 obp doesn’t mean 30% singles/walks. Sometimes guys get extra base hits. Plus he’ll lead off innings sometimes. I don’t know the exact number, but I don’t think a guy on first is blocked by a guy on 2nd anywhere close to 30% of the time.

• Tom Jacks says:

@Jeff: Thanks, you answered that perfectly for me.

5. Big AL says:

So what do you think his average ADP will be ? what round do you think you’ll have to draft him ? In a 12 team H2H Points league what does that translate in fanasty points if he gets the 100 steals. Can he hit .275 ? If he can he’ll probably score 120 runs. If-if-if . Is he worth the risk of a mid pick for his upside ? I guess we will see.

• Tom Jacks says:

@Big AL: That’s a good question. I think he can hit around .275. I also think his value will be significantly higher in standard leagues compared to points leagues. I’d definitely use an early mid-round pick for him in standard leagues, but likely wait til a late mid-round pick for him in points leagues. I’ll admit that I’m less familiar with points leagues though.

6. tgk says:

The question is where Billy will be drafted, and strategically is it better to own one guy who will take care of all your speed needs or is it safer to spread it around to 3-4 players who can steal 20+? If he’s projected to be the unquestioned league leader in steals, that would probably put him in the first 3-4 rounds?

• Tom Jacks says:

@tgk: It could be safer to spread the steals around, but I think he’s worth the gamble depending on the price. I wouldn’t use a top 5 pick, but I could see using a 6-10 pick, as the season draws closer and we have a better idea on the team’s plans for him.

• jvetter says:

He went round 5 pick 74 in one of the first NFBC draft champions league this year (real \$\$\$ on the line – 15 teams – standard roto).

• Tom Jacks says:

@jvetter: Interesting. It would be tough for me to use more than my 6th pick in a 10 teamer, so 51-60th overall.

7. Carnac says:

Billy Hamilton excites me. And Mrs. Carnac is ok with that because she knows I won’t stray too far because I’ve been burned before. See: Grey’s 2012 Dee Gordon pre-season profile; http://razzball.com/national-dee-keeper-society/

Also, see the similarly yawnstipating BB rates, lousy K%, playing time issues, the fact that they both weigh less than me, etc. Put it together and it’s a risky play for single (maybe double) category success. Might I miss out on a lot of excitement by not considering Hamilton in the first several rounds? Sure. And I’m ok with that.

• Tom Jacks says:

@Carnac: Yeah, the Dee Gordon comparison is tempting. I think he’ll be better than Gordon, but the question is how much better and will it be enough to maintain ML success.

• fri-guy says:

@Tom Jacks: i’m better than dee gordon. almost.

• Tom Jacks says:

@fri-guy: Ha! I couldn’t argue with you there…

• Carnac says:

hey now, don’t pick on people smaller than you! *opens tiny locker and a sheepish Dee Gordon emerges*

• Tom Jacks says:

@Carnac: Leprechaun X: In the big leagues?

• P Swayz on a Horse says:

@Tom Jacks: no, no, X is the one where he went to Vegas and killed Grey and his groomsmen. You’re thinking of a XII.

• Tom Jacks says:

@P Swayz on a Horse: Ha! That would be a terrible way to go…

8. Swagger Jackers says:

Good to see you again Tom Jacks.

In my OBP and QS roto auction league, pick 5:

Cano (\$21)
Scherzer (\$15)
Gomez (\$11)
Bautista (\$10)
Minor (\$6)
Myers (\$4)
Donaldson (\$4)
Segura (\$4)
Billy Hamilton (\$4)
Wacha (\$4)

• Tom Jacks says:

@Swagger Jackers: Good to see you too. I’ll pick Cano, Scherzer, Myers, Segura, and Wacha.

9. Wake Up says:

Per usual, I will be looking to grab HRs and OPS at the point in the draft where Hamilton will probably go…30 ribbies and .240 avg are both significant losses, as well…

• Tom Jacks says:

@Wake Up: Yeah, I agree. In OPS leagues, his value drops quite a bit compared to standard leagues.

10. danny almonte says:

Hey Tom, in a new dynasty league in a vacuum, is it crazy to take machado over c.Davis?

• Tom Jacks says:

@danny almonte: No, I don’t think that’s crazy in a dynasty league.

• robdouth says:

@danny almonte: In a dynasty league in a vacuum I’d be more worried about being able to breath…

11. me says:

He only attempted a stead 55% of the time he was on base at AAA last year. I find it hard to believe that the Reds will run him THAT MUCH more than his AAA team did.

Considering his minor league numbers, 80% seems unreasonably high for attempts to steal second. Let’s look at the numbers. I’ll make some assumptions that are favorable to the 80% theory:

1. He never hit into a force out (which would drive up the number of times he’s on 1B)

2. All of his Minor League steals are attempts to steal second.

Based on those assumptions:
2013: Hamilton attempted to steal 65% of the time he was on first.
2012: 91%
2011: 70%
2010: 59%
2009: 85%

So, in five minor league seasons, he’s done it twice. I think we can throw out rookie ball, because it’s rookie ball and because he only had 180 plate appearances, so the numbers seem not sufficiently high to be meaningful. That leaves 2012, when he was running every time he was on base to try to set a record. I’m not prepared to do a full PECOTA-style analysis, but I see that as an outlier; the 59-70% of 2010, 2011, 2013 seems much more reasonable.

Even if he steals third at Ricky Henderson rates, this seems like a gross overestimation of attempted steals.

(Based on his walk drop off last year, I’d also be concerned about his OBP — one wonders if his high walk numbers at the lower levels reflect patiences against bad pitchers, which didn’t translate at AAA and won’t translate at MLB. On the other hand, I a .295 OBP seems far more feasible than an 80% steal attempt rate.)

• Tom Jacks says:

@me: I think the difference between our views is that I’m weighing his 2012 numbers more than you are. I’ll admit that 80% is probably at or close to the best case scenario, but I see Hamilton as being the outlier player who would be able to reach that mark.

His AAA was certainly disappointing, but his very brief ML numbers were encouraging. I was especially impressed that he was able to steal so many bases in the majors when he was coming in the game as a pinch-runner, and even beating pitch outs.

12. PBMax says:

I currently own Hamilton in an OPS Auction League for \$10 which, with a \$260 cap and all things being equal, seems a better value than Matt Moore, Boegarts, Uehara, Sano, all for \$10 as well, right?

I picked him up once he was called up and I must have seen 3/4 of his mlb steals, and it was ridiculous. So through my rose-colored glasses, I don’t see him running less than 70% of the time, and don’t see why a 285-295 OBP isnt possible.

• Tom Jacks says:

@PBMax: I think it’s close with Boegarts. Just a tradeoff between some power and OPS compared to a lot more speed.

13. don says: