Slide, Billy, Slide! … but above all, HIT!

Buster Olney musing about Billy Hamilton‘s upcoming rookie year:

… given his incredible prowess on the bases, it may not be necessary for Hamilton to produce within the standard models for leadoff hitters. If Hamilton has a .300 on-base percentage, for example — and that may be what the Reds could reasonably expect in Hamilton’s first year in the big leagues — he could still score a whole lot of runs because his singles and walks tend to lead to him standing on second or third base shortly thereafter.

A whole lot of runs, with a .300 OBP — really? The Reds averaged 4.3 R/G last year, and they’ll be lucky to match that after losing their second-best hitter, Shin-Soo Choo. Is there a precedent for what Buster suggests?

 

Statistically, a player’s runs are determined more by the strength of a lineup and his own ability to reach base and hit for power, than by his baserunning. In the last 20 years, there were 64 seasons of 50+ steals, but none of those cracked the top 25 runs totals during that span. Last year’s top 10 in runs averaged 11 SB, but 28 HRs and a .394 OBP, while the seven 40-steal qualifiers averaged 82 runs.

Under what conditions can a player score lots of runs with a .300 on-base percentage? Since 1893, three players have scored 100+ runs with a .300 OBP or lower. All were in potent lineups, and two had good power themselves:

  • 108 runs, Hughie Critz (.292 OBP) — The 1930 Giants scored 6.2 runs per game. Their leadoff spot (mainly Critz) scored 111 runs; their next four spots averaged a .361 BA and 134 runs.
  • 107 runs, Tony Armas (.300 OBP) — The 1984 Red Sox averaged 5.0 R/G. Armas hit 43 HRs, and was still just 3rd on the club in runs.
  • 100 runs, Jimmy Rollins (.296 OBP) — The 2009 Phillies scored 5.1 R/G. Rollins had 21 HRs and 69 extra-base hits, along with 31 steals, and still ranked just 4th on the team in runs; their 2nd through 5th spots all scored more than Rollins’s leadoff spot.

Raising the OBP ceiling to .310 brings in six more with 100 runs. All packed their own punch or had powerful friends:

  • 108, Neifi Perez (.307 OBP) — The 1999 Rockies scored 5.6 R/G, and averaged 38 HRs from their 3rd through 6th spots in the order. Perez himself hit 12 HRs and 11 triples.
  • 105, Juan Samuel (.305 OBP) — Samuel joined Ty Cobb in the two-member 70-SB/70-XBH club, and was the 2nd player ever with 700+ ABs in a season. The ’84 Phillies scored a modest 4.4 R/G.
  • 103, Devon White (.306) — The ’87 Angels scored 4.8 R/G. White had 24 HRs, 62 XBH and 32 steals.
  • 102, Alfonso Soriano (.309 OBP) — 36 HRs, 81 XBH, 30 SB, and his 2005 Rangers scored 5.3 R/G; Sori was 3rd on the team in runs.
  • 102, Bret Boone (.310 OBP) — 20 HRs, 59 XBH, and his ’99 Braves averaged 5.2 R/G.
  • 101, Juan Samuel (.303 OBP) — 19 HRs, 63 XBH, 53 SB; ’85 Phils scored a low 4.1 R/G.

Of these nine, only Samuel was not in a high-octane offense, and he averaged 67 XBH in those two years.

What about the most prolific base thieves who also had low on-base rates? There have been 16 modern seasons with 60+ SB and OBP of .320 or lower. Their combined average: 75 steals, .308 OBP, 657 PAs, and 85 runs. Two reached 100 runs. The full list:

  • Vince Coleman (4 years):
    110 SB, .320 OBP … 107 runs (and NL’s top offense at 4.6 R/G)
    107 SB, .301 OBP … 94 runs
    81 SB, .313 OBP … 77 runs
    65 SB, .316 OBP … 94 runs
  • Omar Moreno (2):
    96 SB, .306 OBP, MLB-high 745 PAs … 87 runs
    60 SB, .292 OBP, 706 PAs … 82 runs
    (The only time Omar scored more than 95 runs was 1979, when he had a .333 OBP and the Bucs led the NL at 4.8 R/G.)
  • Marquis Grissom: 76 SB, .310 OBP … 73 runs
  • Lou Brock: 74 SB, .320 OBP, 15 HRs, 12 triples … 94 runs
  • Juan Samuel: 72 SB, .307 OBP … 105 runs (and 70 XBH)
  • Scott Podsednik: 70 SB, .313 OBP … 85 runs
  • Frank Taveras: 70 SB, .306 OBP … 76 runs
  • Willy Taveras: 68 SB, .308 OBP … 64 runs
  • Eric Yelding: 64 SB, .305 OBP … 69 runs
  • Rodney Scott: 63 SB, .307 OBP … 84 runs
  • Bert Campaneris: 62 SB, .302 OBP … 71 runs
  • Jose Reyes: 60 SB, .300 OBP … 99 runs (and 17 triples)

From the leadoff spot in particular, 88 player-seasons since 1916 had at least 500 PAs in that role and an OBP under .315. None of them scored more than 98 runs leading off, and just three had 95 runs. The 23 with 40+ steals averaged a .305 OBP, 62 SB and 88 runs per 700 PAs.

Hamilton showed us last fall what excitement he can bring to a game. No one will be shocked if he’s the first since Rickey Henderson to swipe 80 bags. But he’s shown little power in the minors: per 700 PAs, he’s averaged 24 doubles, 12 triples and 4 HRs, with 140 strikeouts.

It would be hard for anyone to top Vince Coleman at using his legs to turn times on base into runs. In his three low-OBP years not backed by a top offense, Vince twice led the majors in the rate of scoring once on base. In those three years, he averaged (per 700 PAs) 90 steals and an 83% safe rate, a .310 OBP, and 94 runs. So that seems like the upper limit of Hamilton’s ability to score in spite of a low OBP.

The 2013 Reds had good OBP from just two spots in their lineup, as Choo and Votto ranked 1-2 in the league individually. They were 14th in OBP from the #2 spot (and 14th in OPS), 10th in OBP from #4 (11th OPS), 12th in OBP from #5 (7th OPS). They were 10th in OPS from the #6 spot, and 11th at #7-8. No surprise, then, that while Choo and Votto combined for 101 runs per 700 PAs, the rest of the team averaged 71 runs per 700 PAs.

Unless the Reds improve the rest of their lineup, the idea of Hamilton stealing enough bases to score “a whole lot of runs” despite a .300 OBP seems like pure fantasy. He’ll have to get on base at a decent rate to be an effective leadoff man.

Your thoughts?

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David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago

Interesting research, thanks. A lot of people seem to be down on Hamilton because of his paltry .308 OBP at AAA last season, but the season before that he posted a .410 OBP between high-A and AA. He’s only 23 this coming season, so I think he has a chance to put up a .330-.340 OBP in the majors, maybe not in 2014 but eventually. Now, whether he can do that consistently is another question…I mean, even Vince Coleman managed to put up a .363 OBP. But only once. One piece of errata: you wrote “There have been 16 modern… Read more »

Darien
6 years ago

I guess this sort of thing is what happens when Buster lets @TRIPPINGOLNEY write his columns.

PaulE
PaulE
6 years ago

Yeah, John, but Hamilton will save them $20,000,000 🙁
Great research – it appears Vince Coleman will be the upper limit of Hamilton’s success unless, of course, he starts to eat more spinach.
“J-Roll” scored 500 runs over a five year stretch. The XBH/low OBP model works – certainly with speed.

Paul E
Paul E
6 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Mea Culpa. That was a FOUR year period (2004 – 2007):

1 Jimmy Rollins 500
2 Alex Rodriguez 492
3 Albert Pujols 480
4 Derek Jeter 453
5 Johnny Damon 448
6 David Ortiz 444
7 Bobby Abreu 443
8 Ichiro Suzuki 433
9 Carlos Beltran 424
10 Adam Dunn 412

birtelcom
Editor
6 years ago

Would it make a difference if a guy with a massive OBP bats after Billy? Joey Votto, the Reds’ fixture in the third spot in the order, is the great OBP master of current baseball. Highest OBP 2009-2013 (min. 1000 PAs): Joey Votto .431 Miguel Cabrera .419 Joe Mauer .410 Mike Trout .404 Prince Fielder .400 Most Games Batting Third in the Order, 2009-2013: Albert Pujols 708 Joey Votto 699 Ryan Braun 631 Ryan Zimmerman 557 Justin Upton 543 Career OBP for the Reds (min. 1,000 PAs) Joey Votto .419 Joe Morgan .415 Kal Daniels .406 Johnny Bates .401 Dummy… Read more »

Brent
Brent
6 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

Well Vincent Van Go in 1985 had McGee (OBP .384), Herr (OBP .379) and Clark (OBP .393) hitting behind him. Did that help Vince score more runs? I would guess so. A counterpoint: In 1985 when he scored 107 runs he had an OBP of .320. In 1986, when he scored only 94 runs he had an OBP of .301. McGee, Herr and Clark slumped to OBP’s of .306, .342 and .362 respectively (although Whitey mitigated McGee’s dropoff by batting Ozzie 2nd more in 1986 (OBP .376)). I would guess the difference in runs scored of 13 for Coleman has… Read more »

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago
Reply to  Brent

Here’s some data from Coleman’s first 5 seasons, the only seasons in which he had 600+ PA. I looked up how often he scored per time on base (RS%) and how often he took an extra base (XBT%). 1985 .320 OBP 107 runs RS% 48% XBT% 46% 1986 .301 OBP 94 runs RS% 47% XBT% 58% 1987 .363 OBP 121 runs RS% 47% XBT% 57% 1988 .313 OBP 77 runs RS% 36% XBT% 45% 1989 .316 OBP 94 runs RS% 48% XBT% 47% His career marks were .324 OBP, RS% 44%, XBT% 53%. I can’t quite figure why his 1988… Read more »

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

Does anyone know if there’s a way to search who had the highest XBT% of all time? (or at least in the years covered by the Play Index) Some time back I looked up about 125 players, one by one, looking for the best and worst in this category. One interesting thing I discovered is that most of the slow guys come in around 30%. THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST: Killebrew 35% Zisk 35% Daulton 33% J Giambi 33% Hrbek 33% E Martinez 33% J Molina 33% B Powell 33% Thome 32% F Thomas 30% Luzinski 29% Olerud 29%… Read more »

RJ
RJ
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

I found Willie Davis also at 63%.

RJ
RJ
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

Others above 55% are Luis Aparicio (56), Willie McGee (57), Rod Carew (58) and Bill Bruton (59). Bruton’s figure is even more impressive as he didn’t start in the majors until his age 27 year.

Billy R. Hamilton is at 100% (in five opportunities).

Artie Z.
Artie Z.
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

Jackie Robinson is at 59%. So is Chone Figgins. Mike Trout, in an admittedly small sample, is at 61%. Bobby Bonds and Frank Robinson are at 56%. Lofton is at 55%. Shawon Dunston is at 60%. Utley is at 57%.

I think there’s an article in a recent Baseball Research Journal that looks at runs scored per times on base. Found the title: The Mystery of Jack Smith’s Runs. He played well before we have baserunning data, but I think there is a discussion about XBT% in that article.

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

Willie Davis, good find RJ. I had to know whether he beat out the other Willie, so I calculated a few rates to the first decimal place: W Mays 62.9% W Davis 62.5% M Wilson 62.4% Some others at or above 55%: Gilliam 59% L Smith 59% Flood 58% T Goodwin 58% Kaline 58% Minoso 58% A Griffin 57% T Harper 57% Patek 57% Redus 57% C Washington 57% Cameron 56% C Cedeno 55% Clemente 55% O Guillen 55% L Johnson 55% Pettis 55% Tolan 55% D White 55% These sre not ranked down to the first decimal place, just… Read more »

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

Artie Z @ 21 –

Thanks for reminding me about the BRJ article – it’s in the Fall 2013 issue, by John D. Eigenauer. The article discusses RS% (and XBT%) on a single-season basis in an attempt to figure out why Jack Smith, a middling outfielder of the teens and ’20s, had such a high RS%.

Eigenauer’s conclusion was that Smith was a surprisingly good baserunner, and that it sure didn’t hurt to have Rogers Hornsby and Jim Bottomley hitting behind him.

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

Oops, errata. Jeter is at 45% and A Rod at 46% – I should’ve double-checked the active players, as I compiled this list before the 2012 season.

Steven
Steven
6 years ago

In the mid-late 1980s, there was always an article or interview with somebody close to the Cardinals about how hard Vince Coleman worked. But they were talking about him lifting weights. Too bad he didn’t work on his baseball skills the way Ozzie Smith did. Just hit the ball on the #!%* GROUND!

Wine Curmudgeon
6 years ago

Omar the Outmaker. Can never have too many posts about him,

mosc
mosc
6 years ago

People are so afraid of “wasting” the leadoff home run that they bury on base machines time and time again. Votto is also a lefty and one with an unusually wide spray chart in the infield. Personally, that screams #2 hitter to me. Can you think of a better guy to hit behind the runner, take pitches for a guy to try and steal, and get on base for the middle of your lineup? Your article really points me towards the leadoff first inning home run. How common is it rate wise in comparison to another typical at bat? I… Read more »

Brent
Brent
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Of course in the National League, the leadoff hitter is going to have fewer players on base anyway, even after that first AB, because he is hitting direclty behind the weakest hitter on the team, someone who in most cases can only be called a “hitter” in the loosest of terms.

birtelcom
Editor
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

By my calculations, over the past 5 seasons hitters batting in the first spot in the batting order have in the aggregate hit homers in 1.93% of their plate appearances in the first inning, and hit homers in 1.71% of their plate appearances in innings after the first.

I used b-ref’s Team Split Finder to get the full numbers for all PAs by leadoff hittters 2009-2013, then the Event Finder to get the numbers for leadoff hitters in the first inning, and subtracted the latter from the former to get the numbers for leadoff batters in innings after the first.

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

Ok so this would point to a fairly typical HR rate, nothing fancy for leading off the game. You’d expect a lower rate for “other” innings because relievers have such a lower HR rate than starters in this era. So if that’s a given, you still need to know the average guys on base when a typical HR happens, I think you gave this before birtelcom as 0.4 dudes on base, on average? So I would say it’s hard to say putting Votto at 1 is costing you much more than a couple runs per year in extra solo shots.… Read more »

no statistician but
no statistician but
6 years ago

1657 R
914 SB
1189 BB
.455 OBP
141 OPS+

Will the real Sliding Billy please stand up?

John Nacca
John Nacca
6 years ago

After all these years, I thought Buster Olney was a bit more up-to-date on stats then the 1960’s theory of “speed = massive amount of runs scored”. If Hamilton has an OBP of anything south of .320, paired with the runs per game decrease over the last 5 years, he may top out at 90…and that is IF the team stays with him all year and don’t send him back to AAA due to him being overmatched.

JasonZ
6 years ago

Pop Quiz:

Identify the player.

.344/.455/.432

OOS+=141

Played as MLB oozed out of the primordial soup.

914SB

no statistician but
no statistician but
6 years ago
Reply to  JasonZ

See my comment @ #15.

How many identically named players with similar—well, some similar—special talents have made it to the Bigs?

The two Frank Thomases come to mind. Any others?

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago

There have been two Frank Bakers, two Bobby Browns and two Dixie Howells. Not all of them had special talents.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago

Not to mention Mike Young.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago

One of the Howells was a pitcher and the other a catcher. They were briefly teammates on the Reds in 1949 and there were two occasions when they formed a battery. Of course Dixie was a nickname. The pitcher was Millard and the catcher was Homer.

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago

There’s the two Bobby Joneses, both pitchers, one RH, one LH, born within 2 years of each other, briefly teammates on the Mets, as well as three pitching Bob Millers, whose careers all overlapped in the ’50s/’60s.

Bob L. Miller (RH) was probably the best of the lot. I see that his bb-ref page notes, “born Robert Lane Gemeinweiser”. Sports editors across the country no doubt thanked him for changing his last name to “Miller”…

bstar
bstar
6 years ago

There were two pitching Dutch Leonards.

The first was a lefty for the Red Sox and Tigers in the 1910’s. In 1914 his 0.96 ERA translated to a 282 ERA+, good for third-best all-time for a single season.

The second Dutch Leonard was a righty knuckleballer who pitched mainly for the Senators in the ’40s over a 21-year career.

Both were very good pitchers.

Dutch Leonard #1: 139-113, 115 ERA+, 36 WAR
Dutch Leonard #2: 191-181, 119 ERA+, 51 WAR

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago

Here’s a pair of namesake shortstops:

“Miami” Alex Gonzalez .243/.302/.391 OPS+ 79 WAR 11.1
“Venezuela” Alex Gonzalez .246/.290/.396 OPS+ 79 WAR 10.0

They’re #3/#4 on each other’s similarity score lists.

No wonder I could never keep them straight.

bstar
bstar
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

David, here’s how I kept ’em straight: one of them looked like a Sea Bass and one of them didn’t.

I think these two take the “most similar” crown.

Sea Bass could pick it at short.

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago
Reply to  bstar

Yeah, I saw that “Sea Bass” is his nickname, but looking at pictures of him, I don’t really see it. Anyway, doesn’t help you much when you’re looking at a box score….

I note that the Alex Gs faced each other in the 2003 NLCS.

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

There´s the “other” Pedro Martinez, a Padres pitcher in the early 90´s. He accumulated a grand total of minus 0.1 WAR from 93 to 97.

brp
brp
6 years ago
Reply to  David Horwich

The one who played for the Cubs is the true villain of 2003 and should be Steve Bartman’s butler for the rest of his life.

Brent
Brent
6 years ago

Well, the one that always confused me was the two Steve Ontiveroses. The first Steve Ontiveros was a third baseman for the Giants/Cubs in the 70s. His best year was manning the hot corner for the Northsiders in 1977 and garnering 2.6 bWAR. After he retired in 1980, another Steve Ontiveros came up as a pitcher for the A’s in 1985 and ending up pitching in 10 different seasons through 2000 for the A’s, Phillies, Mariners, A’s again and Red Sox. His best year was the 1994 strike season with the A’s where he managed 3.1 bWAR in only 115… Read more »

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
6 years ago

Speaking of identical named players, earlier today Chad Tracy (son of former manager Jim) a career minor leaguer signed with the Orioles, meanwhile, former D-Back Chad Tracy got a minor league deal with a spring invitation with the Angels, also today.

oneblankspace
oneblankspace
6 years ago

One Mike Marshall was an outfielder/first baseman, the other was a closer, but both wore Dodger Blue in LA. Both were in the NL in September 1981, but they were in different divisions and did not play.

Mike Stanton was two pitchers before the days of Giancarlo Stanton. M.T. Stanton, RHP, 1975-85; W.M. Stanton, LHP, 1989-07.

And there was a brief time in spring training 2001 Brian Hunter was Brian Hunter’s teammate in Philadelphia.

BryanM
BryanM
6 years ago

This looks like another opportunity to trot out my. ” favorite toy” stat , with apologies to Bill James . Ii call it scoring average, by analogy to batting average. ( r-hr)/ ( h +bb + hbp – hr) . B ref. expresses it as a percentage and calls it RS %. Like OBP and BABIP , it tends to average around . 300 around the league , But the best run scorers can be up in. The. 400 range. It basically sums up skill in taking bases, however accomplished, plus of course the quality of bats behind you in… Read more »

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  BryanM

Are we discounting reaching base on an error or fielder’s choice?

BryanM
BryanM
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

No , and pinch runners score runs , too, even without a PA. It’s basically a measure of general propensities, over a season or career, when those rarer events tend to even out. it’s. Just another lens to look at a player, Among players who never attempt stolen bases , some are competent baserunners, just not fast ; others are slowwww, or lack game situation awareness . It helps to sort the two groups, Manny Ramirez had a .286 career scoring average which is ok, maybe a tad low for someone who hit a lot of doubles., Albert Pujols, a… Read more »

BryanM
BryanM
6 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

It tends to be similar to OBP in magnitude. Up in high scoring years , down in low, . 330 is pretty good , except in the Baker Bowl in 1930 , when it isn’t, and during the Vietnam war , when it was terrific.

BryanM
BryanM
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Mosc, to the extent that FC as opposed to GDP reflects speed given a man on first and 0 or 1 outs, a player who reaches safely and subsequently scores gets credit in the numerator (R) without increasing the denominator , So in that sense it is captured, and a player who hits into a lot of FC would have a higher scoring average than a similar slower player

JasonZ
6 years ago

Final Hint…

1yr-to-old for COG consideration??

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  JasonZ

Billy Hamilton. The first one. That joke’s getting as old as Billy’s playing days.

birtelcom
birtelcom
6 years ago
Reply to  JasonZ

Billy Hamilton the First played almost his entire career in the 19th century and is therefore ineligible for the COG in its current form (must have played at least half one’s career after 1899). Billy Hamilton the Second was born in 1990 and therefore will be eligible for the COG (if he makes 10 years in the majors or 20 WAR) when he reaches 44 years old in 2034. At that point, baseball will be played on a holodeck: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/disruptions-the-holodeck-begins-to-take-shape/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Artie Z.
Artie Z.
6 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

JA – I believe that Bill James mentions in one of his books that there was never really “remembered” by people. Something to the effect of even today there are really only stories about him and not a complete picture of the person. Delahanty – big star, tragic end; plus, he was driving in and scoring 100+ runs consistently Duffy – he hit .440 one year; it’s still the single-season AVG record, and that was (I’m assuming) a very big deal then (okay, hitting .440 today would be a big deal); also drove in and scored a lot of runs… Read more »

oneblankspace
oneblankspace
6 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

It may be on a holodeck, but don’t forget the SS(TNG)/3B(DS9) from the London Kings who breaks DiMaggio’s record.

mosc
mosc
6 years ago

You know, I think the sabermetric community would do better to stop referring to OBP and start talking about “outs”. Lets talk about guys who don’t make outs rather than guys who “get on base”. Then maybe it’ll be more obvious to older folks. Your batting average is a rate stat, so too is your “avoiding an out” average. Then maybe Olney won’t say stupid things like guys can score 100 runs while making outs 70% of the time. You only get 2 an inning you know, third one ends it.

Doug
Doug
6 years ago

There were two George Burns who were contemporaries who both compiled 2000 hits. One was a base stealer who scored about 300 more runs than the “slugger” who drove in 300 more runs than his namesake. They played in opposite leagues and never faced each other.

tunatuna
tunatuna
6 years ago

@ 33, I like what you said about guys that don’t make “outs”, which may help the older folks understand a little better. In regards to that – do strikeouts count worse in all of these calculations as opposed to other outs -because IMO they should.

tunatuna
tunatuna
6 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Thanks John and bstar, I am just starting to get myself educated on these calculations and although I am old school I can see great value in them.

bstar
bstar
6 years ago
Reply to  tunatuna

tuna, yes strikeouts count slightly worse as other outs in B-Ref’s batting runs calculations.

HowardR
HowardR
6 years ago

I suspect that the only value Hamilton will have next season will be for fantasy teams in need of SBs.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
6 years ago

Lowering/raising the bar to 40+ steals, but a SLG under .375, you get

Frank Taveras in 1979

44 SB
93 R
.298 OBP

And he managed to play 164 games
(by being traded, he played both the Pirates and Mets’ 10th and 11th games).

He was also caught stealing 20 times.
So…

-18 Rbat
-11 Rfield
+1 Rbaser

0.4 WAR

Brendan Bingham
Brendan Bingham
6 years ago

Is it a foregone conclusion that Hamilton will bat leadoff for the Reds this year? It seems possible that the team could be better served by having a higher OBP guy (I don’t know who) bat leadoff and have Hamilton bat lower in the order (6th maybe?). Stolen bases lower in the order can be valuable if there is a good contact guy batting, say, two places behind Hamilton with the opportunity to drive him in when he gets to third with less than two outs.

birtelcom
birtelcom
6 years ago

Of course batting Hamilton other than leadoff increases the risk that there will be guys on base ahead of him, clogging the basepaths and eliminating his main raison d’etre.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

I did a crude analysis to determine % of PA with bases empty by batting order position. I selected players with or close to 100% of their PA in a particular batting order position in a given season (400 PA minimum). Here are the results. Position/Player/Year/% of PA with bases empty 1/Lenny Dykstra/1993/64.9% 2/Felx Millan/1975/56.4% 3/Jim Rice/1978/51.9% 4/Albert Belle/1999/45.7% 5/David Justice/1995/56.6 6/Sixto Lezcano/1980/58.3% 7/Mike LaValliere/1988/58.9% 8/Jim Hegan/1950/49.7% 9/Ozzie Guillen/1993/55.3% Lezcano had 95.9% of his PA in the #6 position and LaValliere had 96.3% of his PA in the #7 position. The rest were 100%. Career-wise Rickey Henderson had 13346 PA… Read more »

Brendan Bingham
Brendan Bingham
6 years ago

Richard,
Thanks. This sheds some light on the question of how to deploy a batter like Hamilton — don’t bat him 4th. Batting anywhere other than 1st reduces his PA with bases empty, but only marginally.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago

Just for the record the overall % of PA with the bases empty since 1974 is closely 55.4.

BryanM
BryanM
6 years ago

When Billy Hamilton 1.0 set the runs scored record at 198 , he had a scoring average of .424. (RS%) Which is extremely terrific, and surely near the upper end of human capability under the current rules of baseball But his OBP of .521 sure gave him a bunch of opportunities. As did his 25 2B 15 3B and 100 SB

Paul E
Paul E
6 years ago
Reply to  BryanM

BryanM:
In 1894 those 6 errors per game committed by fielders with prehistoric gloves, chest protectors, and face masks certainly facilitated the scoring of runs. Coupled with the mound moving back to 60’6″ the prior year, Hamilton probably got dizzy running the bases in a year when the league averaged 7.3 runs/game.

Hartvig
Hartvig
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul E

According to the Bill James New Historical Baseball Almanac face masks weren’t introduced to the game until 1907 and I don’t think chest protectors were until sometime after that. It’s not hard to believe that someone could steal a base on those catchers considering how banged up they must have always been.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

I googled a SABR article and found that face masks and chest protectors were in use prior to 1907. The last pieces of catcher’s equipment to be introduced were shin guards, which were first used in 1907 by Roger Bresnahan.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago

I realized afterwards that shin guards were not actually the last pieces to be introduced.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
6 years ago

@73/Richard Chester,

Is the last piece the throat protector that Dodgers’ catcher Steve Yeager introduced in the mid-70s, after he got wounded in the throat after a bat splintered?

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago

@75
I was really referring to today’s masks which have morphed into a combination of face mask and helmet.

David Horwich
David Horwich
6 years ago

LA @ 75 –

This isn’t a new piece of gear per se, but chest protectors have gotten larger in the last decade or two – they now have a kind of flap extending off the shoulder to give additional protection to the upper arm/armpit area.

I don’t know when those were introduced, but I guess some time in the ’90s – Johnny Bench and Gary Carter didn’t have the flap, but Ivan Rodriguez did.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago

@77

And currently missing from today’s chest protectors is a flap at the bottom of it which did protect a more vital area than the shoulder. 🙂

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
6 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

@67,

Face masks were first worn in 1875 and gradually became accepted in the 1880s, then becoming standard equiipment. Chest protectors were introduced in the 1880s and also gradually became accepted, then universal equipment for catchers and umpires.

You may be thinking of shin guards, which Roger Brwessnahan introduced in 1907.

Those early pre-1880 catchers must’ve taken quite a beating. I think that by 1883, once there were no restrictions on a pitcher’s delivery and they could throw as hard as they wanted, almost everyone realized that catchers needed extra protection.

BryanM
BryanM
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul E

Right and of course DP rates were 50 % lower so BH was likely on first many times on a fielders choice with a chance at scoring without a TOB. Recipe for scoring a lot of runs in order of importance.

1) hit for power and average

2) draw some walks

3)bat near the top of a strong batting order

4) run the bases well

No amount of excellence in 4) can compensate for mediocrity in 1, 2, and 3

Paul E
Paul E
6 years ago
Reply to  BryanM

Bryan M (68):
Correct. As they say, “You can’t steal first base”. And, unfortunately for Jocketty, this may be Hamilton’s biggest problem 🙁

Jimbo
Jimbo
6 years ago

The first Billy Hamilton put up some incredibly unique statistics. I believe he is the only player ever to have OBP >500 and SLG <600 with his .521/.523 line that year.

Artie Z.
Artie Z.
6 years ago
Reply to  Jimbo

His 1894 season is one of 3 seasons in which that occurred with the player qualifying for the batting title. 1894, Billy Hamilton, .521/.523, 702 PAs 1899, John McGraw, .505/.416, 539 PAs 1900, John McGraw, .547/.446, 447 PAs Expanding the PA minimum to 100 adds one more season: 1901, John McGraw, .508/.487, 308 PAs Expanding the PA minimum to 50 (now getting into cups of coffee) adds 3 more seasons: 1915, Joe Judge, .500/.463, 51 PAs 1977, Manny Mota, .521/.500, 50 PAs 1979, Tony Bernazard, .500/.425, 58 PAs So even in really limited playing time it’s not very common. Dropping… Read more »

no statistician but
no statistician but
6 years ago
Reply to  Jimbo

That 1894 Phillies team had four outfielders Delahanty, Thompson, Turner, and Hamilton who qualified for the batting title. They finished 2nd through fifth, behind Duffy. All hit over .400.

The team finished fourth.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
6 years ago

@83/nsb,

Can’t have enough Tuck Turner references! Even with a .418 BA, Turner “only” had a 145 OPS+.

The 1894 NL scored 7.38 R/G, the most ever; the next best year, the next year, was at 6.58 R/G. The Philles averaged 8.93 R/G and had a team .350 BA.

You really have to put it into context; 1930 was the highest figure of the 20th century, at 5.68 R/G. 1894 was 30& higher than that, and the Phillies team was over 60% higher than 1930. This is much more than a Coors field-like offensive boost.

bstar
bstar
6 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

I almost brought up Tuck Turner last week when we were discussing year-to-year rises and falls of batting averages. Tuck went from .386 in 1895 to .243 in 1896 although it looks like he didn’t qualify for the BA title either year. Those 1894 Phillies are the only team in history to have 4 qualified outfielders with an OPS+ over 140. Even a team having three OF’s with an OPS+ over 140 is very rare. The 1890’s Phillies did it three times and a Ty-Cobb-led Tigers outfield did it three times in the Georgia Peach’s career. Other than that, only… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago
Reply to  bstar

The 1941 Yankees came close.
DiMaggio, 184
Keller, 162
Henrich, 136

It was one of teams with 3 OF hitting 30+ HR.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
6 years ago
Reply to  bstar

@93 I meant to say “..one of two teams..”

bstar
bstar
6 years ago
Reply to  bstar

“One of two teams with 3 OF to hit 30 HRs”

No team has ever had 5 players with 30+ HR. The 1956 Reds came the closest, with 5 players hitting 28 or more HR (Ted Kluszewski, Gus Bell, Ed Bailey, Frank Robinson, and Wally Post).

mosc
mosc
6 years ago

Can we maybe back off a tiny bit on the “Hamilton can’t get on base to save his career” crap? .308 AAA OBP in 2013 right… AT AGE 22! Guys who hit .311/.410/.420 slash lines in A+/AA ball at age 21 know how to get on base. No he didn’t hit well in AAA last year at age 22, few do that young. He did more than fine in his 22 MLB AB’s as well. The kid’s gunna be 23 next year. No, he’s not going to hit like Babe Ruth. Yes, Ricky had already stolen 189 MLB bases by… Read more »

Paul E
Paul E
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

mosc:
FanGraphs website offers “predictions”/”guesstimates” that are often very conservative. The average of their three sources (Oliver, Steamer, Fans33) for Hamilton in 2014.

135 Games
.243/.300/.327 (535AB/130H/41BB/.084ISO)
61 SB/16 CS
.307 BABIP (seems ridiculously low)

Perhaps he starts the year in AAA?

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul E

I think he’ll hit better than that and steal better than that. His speed is not like the league’s best, it’s a lot better. We’ve seen Elsbury and Gardner speed lately, which is excellent, but it’s not the same. Here’s Grissom’s age 23 rookie season, I’ll put this up as my over/under on Hamilton. We’ll see how it comes out: .257/.320/.351/.670 For some reason they didn’t give Grissom the green light much that year, he stole 22 bases in just 24 attempts. The next two years he would break 75 and lead the mlb. I think if hamilton can put… Read more »

Paul E
Paul E
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Mosc:
You named a bunch of guys – How about Tom Goodwin?
6’1″ 165# with legs up to his shoulders, he was more similar physically to Hamilton than Grissom. Goodwin did have some very high SB totals, albeit with relatively low runs scored (for that kind of speed).

bstar
bstar
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul E

Fangraphs also offers ZIPS projections, and it’s a tad more optimistic than the other three regarding Hamilton (I think):

.264/.319/.362, .098 ISO
68 SB, 15 CS
.332 BABIP

I guess I would have to be a fantasty baseball player to understand the appeal of projections. It just seems like anybody could do this. Maybe it’s just me.

Jimbo
Jimbo
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul E

61/77 stealing bases seems quite a lowball, after his 13/14 in 13 games last year. Anytime he’s struggling they can still use him as a pinch runner, and he’s shown that he means business on the bases, and wants to run.

If he is healthy all year and stays in the lineup, I’d take the over on 75 steals. I’m excited about the possibility of him stealing 100 after what he did in his cup of coffee.

I’m looking at Vince Coleman’s rookie year. Their minor league stats are similar and at the same age.

BryanM
BryanM
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Mosc. I think he’ll be an exciting player and. Certainly projects to have positive WAA. Most of the posts above are saying that he’ll have to hit to score a bunch of runs – I hope he does, and a 300 OBP. Should keep him in the lineup, but whether or not he scores 90 runs , I’ll take the under , although he doesn’t have to hit that number to be productive

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  BryanM

Yeah, you’re right. Runs are irrelevant but maybe the Reds don’t think so and that holds him up there until he can sort out his hitting a bit more.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
6 years ago

Only six times has a player stolen 50+ bases with 90+ runs in his 1st or 2nd year, age 23 and under.

Ben Chapman
Hanley Ramirez
Rickey
Van Go
Juan Samuel
Donie Bush

Bush led the league in walks, and also in sacrifices, with 52
(and three more in the WS).

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

Donie Bush referencing made me check up on Matt Bush. You remember him right? #1 overall pick in the ’04 draft? He was a shortstop who couldn’t play but had a big enough arm where the padres started using him as a reliever. He was trying hard with the rays in ’10 and ’11 but it looks like he’s finally out of baseball. Oh well, redemption story never panned out. You’d think a 13.8 K/9 in AA would keep some interest despite the ERA but I guess minor league baseball isn’t a career. I hadn’t looked in a couple years… Read more »

Artie Z.
Artie Z.
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Well, it’s kind of difficult to play minor league ball when you go to prison:

http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/former-rays-pitcher-matt-bush-finalizes-plea-deal/1266661

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  Artie Z.

Well, that explains a lot. Class act that guy.

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
6 years ago
Reply to  Artie Z.

And to think that the Padres could have picked Justin Verlander or Jered Weaver (sigh).

Mike L
Mike L
6 years ago

I think there are a lot of managers who believe in the “disrupter” thesis–get a speed guy into the game and it creates all sorts of opportunities that go beyond the number of outs he makes. Infield or outfield hurries a throw, the pitcher has to go from the stretch, greater possibility for a balk or for him to lay in a meatball because Billy’s half way to 2B before he releases, etc. My Dad used to talk about how exciting Jackie Robinson was (37SB seasonal high)

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike L

Ricky Henderson had practically a standing agreement with a few pitchers that he could take second. They didn’t want to deal with him constantly disrupting their mechanics. When a guy has the all time steals leader at first and uses a full windup, he’s conceding second base.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Wait a minute, mosc.
That looks like baloney.
We need some names.

Because the only thing Rickey liked to do more than steal 2nd base was… steal 3rd base. Who conceded him 2nd by pitching out of the stretch?

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
6 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

“stretch” = i meant “windup”
___________________________

Video of Rickey’s final steal.
Got picked off, stole it anyway.
Vin Scully with the call:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HAcJ-qQfi8

Jimbo
Jimbo
6 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Yeah and Cool Papa Bell was so fast he could turn the light out and be in bed before it got dark.

mosc
mosc
6 years ago
Reply to  Jimbo

you know, in the age before youtube, faulty memories were the only thing we had to go on. lol

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
6 years ago

I’d long wondered why the Brooklyn team was, for a while, called the Superbas. What the chunk is a Superbas? Looked it up. Tell you what, things have changed, that’s what. Here’s how it cam about (if this is true): http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/today-in-1899-the-brooklyn-superbas-were-born/ Brooklyn’s team had been called the Trolley Dodgers for fairly obvious reasons, as trolley lines crisscrossed the borough. But there was a popular vaudeville troupe in Brooklyn called Hanlon’s Superbas, and when Ned Hanlon came from Baltimore to Brooklyn, sportswriters jokingly began to call the baseball team the Superbas too. The name stuck, and that’s how they were known… Read more »

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
6 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

@111/VZ;

Also, I think that back then (c. 1900) sports team nicknames were more fluid, and not “official” like they are now. So, if the sportswriters wished to call the NL Brooklyn baseball team the Superbas, the NL Brooklyn team wouldn’t say “No! We are _not_ the Superbas – we are the Trolley Dodgers. Call us the Trolley Dodgers!”

BTW, the team was called the “Bridegrooms” in the 1890s because a number of their players got married one off-season.

google plus android phone

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