Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Billy Hamilton at leadoff, center makes sense for Reds

Hamiltonian mechanics at play.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty reiterated the club’s intentions of going with Hamilton in center and the leadoff spot.

“He’s the guy,” Jocketty said. “We feel confident he can be a good leadoff guy. He’ll give us great defense. The only question is how often he can get on base. He’ll start working on his bunting again after the first of the year. If he can master that, it will really help him.”

Hamilton has the speed to change a game. He’s the Usain Bolt of the base paths. Fans saw that with his 13 steals in 14 attempts during his September call-up.

In a perfect world he’d get a little more time at Triple-A. But he hit .256 with a .308 on-base percentage at Triple-A this season. He followed that by hitting .227 with a .284 on-base in 75 at-bats in winter ball in Puerto Rico.

Choo, by comparison, put up a .423 on-base.

But, again, Choo was so far out of the price range that signing him could have hamstrung the franchise for years to come. Long-term, high-dollar contracts are huge risks for any organization. For a small-market team like the Reds, they’re insanity.

For the Reds to remain competitive they have to produce their own players. Hamilton will make less over the next six years than Choo will make per year under his new contract. That’s why his departure was inevitable.

“We knew that we didn’t have a chance if he got what I thought he was going to get,” Jocketty said.

Repoz Posted: December 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM | 73 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4622470)
I see why they need to give Hamilton a shot, but there's absolutely no need to bat hit 1st, until he shows he can break a .300 OBP.
   2. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 22, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4622471)
Ideal for a LaRussian 9th position in the order, at least for now.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 01:01 PM (#4622473)
Ideal for a LaRussian 9th position in the order, at least for now.

I don't know, if you're going to let him run at will, why not have the pitcher bat behind him? That way you're not forcing a real hitter to take called strikes, and if he steals 2nd, the P can bunt him over to third.
   4. flournoy Posted: December 22, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4622480)
Hamilton can steal third just fine without the pitcher bunting, and if he gets on base with two outs and the pitcher up, it's not even worth bothering.
   5. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4622504)
On the other hand, if the pitcher's up then the pitcher and catcher are free to devote all of their attention to the baserunner. And catching him stealing with two out and the pitcher up is an excellent result--it means the pitcher will lead off the next inning.

I'd rather bat him ninth, because in theory your leadoff man is supposed to be selective at the plate, and the opposing pitcher has to pay attention to Hamilton if he's on first.

The Reds need to just make Hamilton their everyday center fielder for two years and find out what they have. I don't think it's impossible to think Hamilton could, with experience, get to hitting .280/.330/.380 with good defense. With the baserunning, that's a good player.
   6. puck Posted: December 22, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4622525)
How patient with Hamilton will they be? I mean, they fired Dusty after a playoff appearance (or didn't re-sign him or whatever happened). I didn't know if they did that because they think they should be getting further, or if they didn't think he was the guy for a rebuilding job.
   7. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 22, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4622530)
I support the leadoff plan. But, to be fair, I'm more interested in seeing what Billy Hamilton can do than in the Reds doing well.
   8. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 22, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4622536)
How patient with Hamilton will they be? I mean, they fired Dusty after a playoff appearance (or didn't re-sign him or whatever happened). I didn't know if they did that because they think they should be getting further, or if they didn't think he was the guy for a rebuilding job.
I hope they fired him because he managed the exact same, no matter the situation. For instance, since they never had a 9th inning lead, Aroldis Chapman didn't appear in the final 3 game series or 1 game playoff vs. Pittsburgh, and the Reds lost all 4. In fact, they ended the season with a 5-game losing streak before that playoff loss; Chapman made one 1 inning appearance in thse 6 games.
   9. puck Posted: December 22, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4622547)
The projections for Hamilton aren't great, are they? steamer and oliver are very close: .249/.250 avg, .305/.304 OBP, .338/.335 SLG. Though oliver's a lot higher on Hamilton's basestealing/baserunning and defense-3.2 WAR in 600 PA vs. 0.9 WAR in 564 PA's for steamer.
   10. bjhanke Posted: December 22, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4622582)
What are the Reds supposed to do with Hamilton other than lead him off and hand CF to him? If he can't do those two things, he seems like he will be a marginal major-leaguer. Moving him isn't going to help. He needs to be a successful leadoff man or he won't be a successful major league starter at all. The Reds pretty much need to find out about those two things soon, so they can find out what they actually do have. - Brock Hanke
   11. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 22, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4622588)
He needs to be a successful leadoff man or he won't be a successful major league starter at all.


I don't see why he needs to lead off. If I'm the Reds I'd rather have him running himself into scoring position to capitalize on a Zack Cozart single at the back end of the lineup than him having slightly less far to run when Joey Votto bangs a double off the wall.

   12. robinred Posted: December 22, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4622596)
Yeah, I would probably hit Hamilton down in the order, although the Reds don't really have any good leadoff candidates as of now. I knew that Choo would leave, but losing his OBP will (duh) really hurt the Reds. That was one reason that I though last year might be the team's best shot at making the Series with this crew.
   13. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 05:49 PM (#4622605)
Pretty sure if I were handed the Reds' current roster I'd bat Votto leadoff.
   14. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4622622)
Hamilton can be a useful 7th hitter, 8th, or 9th hitter. If he can field well enough then everything else would be gravy while he is young and cheap. Having your #7 hitter have the ability to take an extra base or steal a base has value. The value of running doesn't disappear simply because one isn't batting lead off.
   15. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4622626)
Pretty sure if I were handed the Reds' current roster I'd bat Votto leadoff.

Normally, I'd prefer having a guy with a high OBP and SLG hitting second, as it would be nice to have someone on base when he knocks the ball over/off the wall.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: December 22, 2013 at 06:47 PM (#4622629)
I think a guy who can steal in the 6th/7th spot is a great idea but it's got to be a guy who's got a shot at driving in some runs too and Hamilton won't ever have that power. In the AL, without question I would bat him 9th (or possibly 8th if I had a poor hitting C or something ... similar to the Cozart single approach) and I like the idea of hitting him 9th in the NL too. But it's 9th or 1st.

I've looked at this a few times before and guys like Hamilton almost always get legit shots. Quinton McCracken wasn't really good at anything and still made it to 2800 PA. Alex Sanchez, fast Brian Hunter, Milt Cuyler (1600 PA, one season full-time), Drew Stubbs, Henry Cotto, Cecil Espy (1400 PA), Willy Taveras, Omar Moreno, Doug Glanville, Bob Dernier, Miguel Dilone, Chuck Carr, Willie Harris, Joey Gathright, Jeff Stone, Luis Matos. Some guys like Womack and Nixon parlay this skill set into a quite long career.

That Hamilton has already been chased out of the infield and it's not clear he can handle CF makes it less likely he'll make it to 2000 PA. If he can handle CF, he'll probably make it easily. But, barring injury, looks like 600 PA this year and, even if he kinda tanks, probably another 400 next year then a few years of 200.

A guy who might get a much longer look today is Alex Cole. I'd never realized how good his OBP was -- a career line of 280/360/351. That was only a 92 OPS+ but that's not bad for CF and it understates his OBP value. He never got more than 450 PA in a season yet had three years over 2 oWAR (partly inflated by pinch-running). He seems to have been below-average defensively but not atrocious. That line is a virtual match to Luis Castillo who had 5000 more PA -- a bit more acceptable at 2B than CF yes but not hugely so.

Anyway, I think teams would be a lot more impressed with that 360 OBP now than they were in the early 90s. If Hamilton can post a 360 OBP, Jocketty will be dancing in the streets.
   17. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2013 at 06:51 PM (#4622630)
If Hamilton puts up a .360 OBP he'll have 150 stolen base attempts.
   18. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 22, 2013 at 07:17 PM (#4622635)
I don't see why there is a rush to bar Hamilton lead off. He hasn't proven he can get on base consistently yet so why rush him to the top of the order? He probably should be playing in Cincinnati but just let him bat 7th or 8th and then. Move him up if he earns it.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: December 22, 2013 at 07:49 PM (#4622645)
I don't see why there is a rush to bar Hamilton lead off.

Because his primary offensive asset is his speed. Batting him 8th in front of the pitcher greatly reduces the value of his speed -- probably has 2nd base open less often, little point in him stealing in front of the pitcher.

I generally agree that putting a fast low OBP player in the leadoff spot is not a great idea. I generally agree that the risk/reward of a SB attempt is reduced if it's in front of the meat of your lineup (and we all know Votto is walking after a successful Hamilton SB). But Hamilton's speed is apparently so other-worldly that I don't see how you can maximize his value anywhere else in the lineup. Except for batting him 9th which I think makes a lot of sense (though I have no idea who I'd put in the leadoff spot then).

Which raises the other point. Outside of Votto (and Choo), here are the Reds 2013 OBPs

Mesoraco 287
Phillips 310
Cozart 284
Frazier 314
Heisey 279
Bruce 329
Ludwick 293 (but usually about 330)

Bruce and Ludwick are the only guys obviously likely to out-OBP Hamilton. The Reds will already have two low-OBP guys at the bottom of the lineup in Cozart and Mesoraco.

I see they've picked up Schumacker who does OBP in the 340s. Days when they're both in the lineup, Schumaker in the leadoff spot might make more sense than Hamilton. But he'd be replacing Phillips, Bruce or Ludwick/Heisey on most of those days so I'm not sure it helps much.
   20. Brian Posted: December 22, 2013 at 07:50 PM (#4622646)
Having your #7 hitter have the ability to take an extra base or steal a base has value. The value of running doesn't disappear simply because one isn't batting lead off.


I think this belies a fundamental misunderstanding of who/what the Reds hope Hamilton can be. I Don't know your age McCoy but quite possibly you weren't watching baseball back when there were 80-100 steal players. The Reds will be disappointed if he is a player who "has he ability to steal a base". They want him to be going whenever feasible. Your second statement nails it however, if he gets on base enough Hamilton will have 150+ stolen base attempts. New for this era but not new in theory.
   21. John Northey Posted: December 22, 2013 at 07:55 PM (#4622647)
For MLB it will be good - if Hamilton plays like Vince Coleman it'll be tons of fun. Coleman had a 301 OBP and stole 107 bases (14 CS) his second season. That is tons of fun to watch. Just a 1.2 WAR but one can live with that.
   22. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4622649)
You can bat Hamilton first and Votto second if you want to watch Votto break all the records for getting the old "intentional unintentional" walk. Then the Cincinnati media blowhards can ##### about how Votto isn't man enough to swing at a ball and drive in some runs.
   23. PreservedFish Posted: December 22, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4622650)
I think that would please Votto just fine.
   24. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 08:03 PM (#4622651)
Joey Gathright could do a standing jump over a car.

I keep thinking about that when I read about Hamilton.
   25. Brian Posted: December 22, 2013 at 08:14 PM (#4622654)
No one can do a standing jump over a car. It's a running jump and most young guys who can dunk can do it.
   26. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 08:20 PM (#4622655)
Joey Gathright could do a standing jump over a car.

I keep thinking about that when I read about Hamilton.


I didn't think this was possible, so I Google'd it.

He gets a running start - but yeah, he does it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hShuwSiJi98
   27. Brian Posted: December 22, 2013 at 09:37 PM (#4622673)
Actually, as I said before, most guys who can dunk can do it. It's not that hard. Standing jump? No.
   28. madvillain Posted: December 22, 2013 at 09:53 PM (#4622677)
So, Hamilton is a great athlete and all and also has the base stealers' instinct, but the fact remains that unless he's Ozzie Smith level defensively a major league CF regular, with no power needs to be able to not make an out over 30% of the time to have any value at all.*

There have been 113 "seasons" by players in which they were credited with 1 or more bWAR while posting an OBP under 300. Interestingly, (reflecting the new run environment), after not having any such "seasons" since 1992, in 2013 we had 9 players that managed such a feat: Ichiro, Pedro Alvarez, Piersinski, Astrubal Cabrera, Cespedes, Zach Cozart, Trumbo, Andrelton Simmons and Matt Dominquez.

Everyone of those guys either plays a more premium defensive position than Hamilton or brings other offensive skills to the plate, namely power. I have a time seeing how Hamilton is anything more than a bench player given his current skill level. He could make a jump, and should be given a chance to see if he can, but right now, he's a guy you bury in the 8th spot in the lineup and hope he doesn't go 250/270/330 by the time July roles around.

@21 gives you an idea the sort of baserunning impact he'd need to offset his lack of production elsewhere. Coleman was 17 runs above average that year on the basebaths and despite being a mediocre fielder managed 1.2 bWAR. He had an OPS+ of 62. I kinda have a problem with that passing the smell test, but B Ref has run the numbers so hey, if Hamilton can steal 114 bases out of 128 tries and play cromulent defense, maybe he'll be worth 1 or so WAR.

edit: as has been said before, the report generator at BRef is amazing. I did some work in databases both front and back end, so I know what goes into such stuff and I'm guessing compared to say most "big data" people Sean gets paid relative peanuts, kudos to him for creating such a wonderful tool mostly as probably a labor of love.

* or peak Vince Coleman level on the bases, apparently.
   29. PreservedFish Posted: December 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM (#4622692)
Hamilton did just turn 23. I don't like the idea that we already know what his potential as a hitter is. He's been a consensus top 50 prospect for years now. He had a .400 OBP last year between A+ and AA.

Last year there were a whole bunch of centerfielders that produced positive WAR with an wRC+ around the high 70s, which is what Steamer and Oliver are projecting for Hamilton right now: Chris Young, Juan Lagares, Lorenzo Cain, Brandon Barnes, Andres Torres. It remains to be seen how good Hamilton is out there, but it's very easy to imagine him performing well.
   30. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2013 at 10:33 PM (#4622693)
I think this belies a fundamental misunderstanding of who/what the Reds hope Hamilton can be.

It doesn't matter what they hope he can be. The point is that even if he isn't good enough to be a leadoff hitter that doesn't mean he shouldn't be a major leauger or a major league starter. He can have value as a back of the lineup starter. He'll still steal bases and take extra bases as a 7th hitter.
   31. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM (#4622699)
Hamilton strikes out too damn much. I wish he would adjust his approach, maybe swing a heavier bat, lose all pretense of hitting anything but singles and focus on just getting the ball in play and running as much as humanly possible. Think early-career Willie Wilson.
   32. bookbook Posted: December 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM (#4622700)
Are we sure he shouldn't be in AAA learning how to hit well enough to make it as a major leaguer?
   33. madvillain Posted: December 22, 2013 at 11:03 PM (#4622709)
@29 -- what is Hamilton's defensive rep? Lagares is arguably one of the best CF in baseball. Sullivan had a nice piece on him at Fangraphs.

I think what we can say for sure wrt to Hamilton is that he has a clear path to being a 1-2 WAR player if his batting never rises above a 260/290/350 level and that is through excellent defense and baserunning. As posted upthread, if he can turn that into 280/330/380 with excellent running and defense then he's more into the 3 or even 4 WAR territory, and that's a valuable player.

From my admittedly ignorant viewpoint I'm not sure what else he has to develop in AAA, he'll be a young 23 when the season starts and he might as well start his MLB education full time. If he was coming up to be a bench player it would be different, but give him 550 PA and see what happens.
   34. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 23, 2013 at 02:24 AM (#4622756)
His one bad year in the minors and it just so happened to be last year at age 22. His OBP at ages 20-21 was over .370. My bet is that we'll see some regression to the mean and he'll beat projections by more than enough to be useful. Though It's a bit concerning that he's still struggling in the Winter league in a small sample.

But even so, just play him where he best fits. Platoon him if you have to (his minor league splits against right-handers were significantly stronger). Give him a couple years to continue to improve, he doesn't seem very strong yet and came to baseball late, he's got more chance than most to blossom into something (even more) surprising.
   35. bjhanke Posted: December 23, 2013 at 04:56 AM (#4622764)
Walt Davis (#16 and #19) makes my point in much more detail than I did. He sums up my argument in the first sentence of #16.

I did realize, after I read Walt thinking about batting Billy 9th, that I had forgotten what I call "The Sparky Anderson Discovery." Anderson, as you all probably know, was not highly regarded as a strategy and tactics manager. For a very few years, he had Pete Rose leading off and Joe Morgan hitting 2nd, before it became obvious that Joe was a #3 hitter. I used to complain about that all the time. Morgan was a much better base stealer, and got on base much more, than Rose. He should be the leadoff man. But one year, about 5 years ago, I realized that Sparky had a point. If your leadoff man leads off and gets on first, what does he know about the situation? All he knows is that the pitcher could not get the first hitter out, which is an indicator pointing towards going for a big inning, not risking outs with stolen base attempts. But suppose you put the base stealer second, like Sparky did with Joe? Well, if Joe gets on first base, what does he know? He knows whether there is one or no outs. If there are no outs, he knows that the runner ahead of him is either at second, in which case Joe can't steal, or on 3rd or home. In either case, you should be playing for the big inning. But if your base stealer knows that there's one out and he's the only guy on base, that's a strong indicator towards playing for one run, which improves the value of base stealing. So there are real tactical advantages that you get if you hit your base stealer second, instead of leadoff. In the AL, the #9 hitter is sometimes called "the backup leadoff man." A lot of innings end with the weakest hitter, who is hitting 8th, so the #9 guy really does get extra leadoff attempts. And then the leadoff man knows the base/out/score situation.

Therefore, I want to add that to my original comment. Hamilton should hit either first, second, or 9th (if the Reds move to the AL). If you've got a good OBP guy who you don't need for the middle of the lineup, he can lead off and Hamilton is your best bet for #2.

But Hamilton is 23 already, and he has young man's skills. You need to take advantage of them early. You need to know what his OBP in the majors is going to be. You need to know if MLB catching arms can throw him out more than was true in the minors. You need to know if he can play CF. You need to know if the combination of his hitting, running and fielding amount to a MLB starter. He's 23. It's time for him to put up or shut up with his collection of skills. - Brock Hanke
   36. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: December 23, 2013 at 09:12 AM (#4622779)
I wish he would adjust his approach, maybe swing a heavier bat, lose all pretense of hitting anything but singles and focus on just getting the ball in play and running as much as humanly possible. Think early-career Willie Wilson.
They should make him drop and do ten pushups every time he hits the ball in the air.
   37. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 23, 2013 at 09:52 AM (#4622789)
If I recall what I've read correctly, Hamilton's defense in CF right now is not very good. He's fast and that's about it; poor routes and breaks. He needs a couple years of experience out there and the question is probably closer to "can he handle CF well enough to be above-average?" than "can he be Carlos Gomez?"

I think the everything-breaks-right scenario is that Hamilton develops into an average-to-above defensive CF who hits .290/.335/.360 and steals a hundred bases a year at an 80% clip. I would wildly guess that that would be something like a 2 WAR player.

The Reds have no other remotely interesting CF options--honestly, I don't expect them to be competitive in 2014 the way the lineup looks--so it's time to let Hamilton play every day, learn how to play outfield defense, and try to teach him to slap the ball and run and not strike out so damn much. All the strikeouts say to me he's swinging his bat far too hard for a guy with no power.

Tangent: It sure looks like the Cardinals are going to run away and hide with the 2014 NL Central, doesn't it? I think it's likely they win in the mid-high 90s while the Pirates finish second in the mid-80s, everyone else under .500.
   38. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 23, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4622824)
But he hit .256 with a .308 on-base percentage at Triple-A this season. He followed that by hitting .227 with a .284 on-base in 75 at-bats in winter ball in Puerto Rico.


he actually started looking interesting after 2012 when he hit .311/.410/.420 between the Cal league and the Southern League, had paid attention, hadn't noticed that he'd cratered in AAA

oddly enough he continued to track his minor league doppelganger, Vince Coleman- at 21 Coleman had hit .350/.431/.399 in A ball with 145 steals, at 22 Coleman hit .257/323/.334 in Louisville (where Hamilton just played).

If Vince Coleman had been a good defensive CF, he actually would have been a valuable player up to about 30 or so... (instead despite his speed Coleman was a pretty blah corner OF)

So what is the word on Hamilton's defense in CF?
   39. greenback likes millwall, they don't care Posted: December 23, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4622842)
So what is the word on Hamilton's defense in CF?

He's Vince Coleman.

The Reds made a mistake, waiting as long as they did, moving Hamilton off short. I don't miss Jocketty.
   40. puck Posted: December 23, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4622862)
If I recall what I've read correctly, Hamilton's defense in CF right now is not very good. He's fast and that's about it; poor routes and breaks


Eric Young Jr is a guy who couldn't really make the transition. (Or at least hasn't in the years he's been primarily an OF.) He does not appear to be an average center fielder for similar reasons to those about Hamilton. Young never really got a shot at 2nd despite spending most of his minor league career there, so I guess he didn't look good there, either.
   41. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 23, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4622868)
His one bad year in the minors and it just so happened to be last year at age 22. His OBP at ages 20-21 was over .370


Why average 20-21 together and ignore 22?

Plus 20 was closer to 22 than it was to 21, his age 20 OBP was .340, age 21 was .410 and 22 was .308

Minor league career is .280/.350/.378

More to the point, he hit .318/.383/.456 in the Pioneer League (league was .276/.347/.409)
he hit .323/.413/.439 in the Calif league (league was .273/.342/.427)

Those two stops account for 708 PAs, the rest of his minor league career, Gulf Coast League, Midwest League, Southern League and IL account for 1550 PAs, and in those 1550 PAs he hit .262/.327/.347.

You can't just write off 2013 as an anomaly, and look at 2011-2012, among other things 2012 is more an anomaly compared to Hamilton's entire career than 2013.

His best performance was 2/3 of a year in the Calif League, and he was just 32nd in OPS.

Yes he's fast, but sooner or later you've got to be able to utilize that physical ability to play baseball, and aside from stealing bases he doesn't seem to have figured out the trick yet.
   42. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: December 23, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4622949)
Hamilton's career OPS+ is 148 and he's 30-40 annualized runs above average defensively. ;)

--

I think Hamilton will be fine. Though his mechanics need work, he's so fast that he's still gets to a lot of balls on D. He'll be a plus on that end - and that with the extreme baserunning ability will make him productive so long as he's minimally adequate with that bad, a standard he should meet.
   43. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 23, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4622967)
This new offensive environment is going to allow more players like Billy Hamilton to provide value (which, ironically, will then produce an even more offensively-starved environment).
   44. madvillain Posted: December 23, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4622968)
Damn 30 to 40 runs aa, lookout mike trout there's a new sheriff in town and it's billy Hamilton.
   45. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: December 23, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4622975)
43 - yup.
--
Just to be super, duper clear, I was (jokingly) extrapolating from a 45 inning sample in post 42.
   46. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 23, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4623020)
he's so fast that he's still gets to a lot of balls on D. He'll be a plus on that end


Coleman was "so fast" and yet he still
wasn't...
a plus on Dee...
   47. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 23, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4623046)
I agree that Hamilton should spend at least another year in AAA working on his game. There is no point to throw him to the wolves in MLB right now. It is practically guaranteed that he'll fail.
   48. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 23, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4623061)
It is practically guaranteed that he'll fail.


If he puts up an 80 OPS+ with a 100 steals enough people will see it as a unqualified success that he won't be crushed...

I mean its possible that he hits .230/.285/.305 and fields like a sleep deprived Lonnie Smith, and become the target of fan Angst as the 2014 Reds go 79-83, but I don't think that's the likeliest scenario either
   49. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: December 23, 2013 at 04:51 PM (#4623062)
46: He looked good in AAA, I thought and had a RF (flawed stat, I know) that was solid.
   50. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 23, 2013 at 04:53 PM (#4623066)
Steamer and Oliver both project negative offense value, and everyone here says he has poor defensive value. You have to steal an insane amount of bases at a great clip to make up for that.

Then again, I love steals, so I hope it works.
   51. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 23, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4623080)
I agree that Hamilton should spend at least another year in AAA working on his game. There is no point to throw him to the wolves in MLB right now. It is practically guaranteed that he'll fail.


I just don't agree with this. He may well fail in the short-term, meaning he'll fail to be a valuable player; but it seems logical that the best way longterm to learn to hit major league pitching, if you have the skills, is to face major league pitching.
   52. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 23, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4623086)
51--One thing that's a little tricky here is that Billy Hamilton is so good at everything else that he's almost certainly going to be good enough to provide some value even if he can only slug .280 this year. I'd be worried that the Reds allow his development as a hitter to stall completely so they can keep him on the 25-man all year as a pinch-runner and 4th outfielder.

I mean, I'd suggest taking a look at what the Twins did with Carlos Gomez for an idea what I'm afraid of here.
   53. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 23, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4623090)
I mean, I'd suggest taking a look at what the Twins did with Carlos Gomez for an idea what I'm afraid of here.


One thing that's a little tricky here is that Billy Hamilton is so good at everything else


I think everyone was in pretty much solid agreement that Carlos Gomez, even in his early Twins' years was a superior fielder, I don't know enough about Hamilton's defense to have my own opinion, but it seems the majority opinion is that he's not good out there (at least not yet)
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4623144)
I just don't agree with this. He may well fail in the short-term, meaning he'll fail to be a valuable player; but it seems logical that the best way longterm to learn to hit major league pitching, if you have the skills, is to face major league pitching.

Yeah, but shouldn't you make him demonstrate he has the skills, by doing better than 256/308/343 at AAA?
   55. Walt Davis Posted: December 23, 2013 at 09:18 PM (#4623228)
As to whether he should start in AAA ... probably in an ideal world but the Reds don't have any other particularly good options. Anybody they can pick up on the cheap is probably at least as OBP-challenged as Hamilton and a worse baserunner but probably a better fielder. Might as well find out what he's got.

Now let's see ...

18 80 steal seasons, only 3 below 2 WAR, none below replacement. Of course that's 6 Rickey and 4 Coleman. As I've noted before, for whatever reason, these guys are LFs -- Rickey, Coleman, Brock, LeFlore, Raines and even Wilson and Eric Davis spent more time in LF those seasons. Moreno is the only guy to spend basically the whole season in CF and Wills added two SS seasons. Rickey aside, these seasons featured average LF defense which would equate to about -10 in CF.

The three lowest WAR seasons are the three low OBP seasons, between 300 and 313. Coleman hit average with a line of 267/320/335. (LgOBP for Cincy last year was 327; it was 328 in Coleman's 1985).

Drop it to 50 steals and we're up to 218 seasons (post-integration). Of those, only 6 were below-replacement, only 24 below 1 WAR; only 59 below average. On the other hand, only 35 of them were below a 320 OBP, only 19 below 310. Omar Moreno without the defense is not promising.

I think we all agree that if Hamilton can't reach base at a league average clip at least that his career will be a short one, barring outstanding CF defense. But ya gotta find out and it's not like average or better defensive CFs who can post a 320-330 OBP grow on trees. Only 10 CF last year (80%+) with 200+ PA, an OBP of 320 or better and Rfield>=0. Only 13 if you drop it to 300; only 17 if you drop it to 50% CF. Average defense in CF and league-average OBP will usually start somewhere.
   56. madvillain Posted: December 23, 2013 at 09:36 PM (#4623235)
Walt, good post, that Eaton trade for Chicago is looking better all the time. Even if Eaton is "only" a 270/340/390 player all indications are that he's at least average in CF and better than that on the bases, and that's a 3 or 4 WAR player.
   57. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 23, 2013 at 10:29 PM (#4623248)
Walt: Mostly those guys were LFs because they couldn't throw, right? I think Hamilton can throw better than any of those guys except maybe Eric Davis.
   58. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: December 23, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4623265)
I'm not sure why a few posts are saying he's a poor defender. He's not. Mechanics need work, outcomes are fine. This is not just my opinion, I understand this to be the consensus opinion of those working in baseball as well. Better than most cheaply available options (Gorkys might be better, as might Pridie.)
Arm is average. Playable in center.
   59. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 01:04 AM (#4623298)
I don't know how the actual math breaks down, but it seems to me that just using Hamilton as a pinch-runner over an entire season would almost certainly net you at least one win, which is more than most teams get from the 25th guy on their roster.

Which, I guess, would technically put the Reds in a conundrum, assuming Hamilton proves that he literally cannot hit at all on the Major League level in 2014 (say, a 180/240/220 line or something). Send him down and cost your team ~1 win in the hopes he becomes better in the future, or keep him up and possibly cause irrevocable harm to his development?

Again, I'd say: Look at the 2008 and 2009 Minnesota Twins and what they did with Carlos Gomez. In my opinion, it took four years and some incredibly patient Milwaukee Brewer coaches to fix the damage the Twins did to his development as a hitter.
   60. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2013 at 01:06 AM (#4623299)
Let's see Gomez do it a lot before we start crediting the Brewers and knocking the Twins.
   61. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 24, 2013 at 01:10 AM (#4623301)
The last guy to have a relatively sustained job in the majors despite universal agreement that he was totally unable to hit was Tony Pena Jr. Would he have been valuable if he was as fast as Hamilton? (note: he played shortstop, which is an advantage)
   62. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 01:49 AM (#4623310)
Well, I do agree, and would assume everyone agrees, that Hamilton needs to play every day for his development's sake. Play him in the majors or play him in the minors, but don't leave him sitting on the bench most of the year and pinch-running.

If he takes a thousand plate appearances in the majors and hits .225, then you might well decide that what you have here is a useful bench player and deploy him accordingly; it's not like he's going to cost you a mint in arbitration if that's how it shakes out. But Hamilton is talented enough, and the Reds' selection of outfielders untalented enough, that right now he just needs to play.
   63. bjhanke Posted: December 24, 2013 at 06:09 AM (#4623330)
I can only add any depth to this from observing Cardinal LF, but those include Lou Brock, Lonnie Smith and Vince Coleman. It's true that none of the three had a good arm, but there's another reason why they were starters in LF, which is usually a hitters' spot - the ballpark. In 1966, the Cards abandoned Sportsman's Park (called Busch Stadium at the time, but Sportsman's Park from its start at just about 1900) when a guy (I actually knew the guy; he was my mom's best friend's son, named John Lough) got killed in a bar nearby when he realized that nature was going to call before he could get home. That was in 1964; it took a couple of years to build a new park somewhere else.

The new Busch Stadium was one of those big circles, like Pittsburgh and Cincy had at the time, where the outfield was just enormous. You really had to have a LF who could run, even if his reads and routes and arm weren't very good. There weren't just fly balls to consider. That park, if a ball got past the LF, turned a double or even a single into a triple if the LF couldn't recover and get to it REALLY quickly. So the Cardinals HAD to have a LF who could really run. I don't know what Cincy's ballpark is like right now, but if it's anything like the one I remember, it needs the same thing - a LF whose primary defensive asset is his speed. You simply could not win without one of those. If the Cincy ballpark isn't as big as the one I'm remembering, then Hamilton probably has more value in a bigger ballpark. He isn't going to hit any HR himself no matter what, so a short LF isn't going to help his offense. And a huge LF will leverage his primary asset on defense. If Billy does not play well in Cincy, and your team has a huge outfield, you might consider trading for him. - Brock Hanke
   64. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 24, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4623364)
In 1966, the Cards abandoned Sportsman's Park (called Busch Stadium at the time, but Sportsman's Park from its start at just about 1900) when a guy (I actually knew the guy; he was my mom's best friend's son, named John Lough) got killed in a bar nearby when he realized that nature was going to call before he could get home.


Could you elaborate on this? The sentence as written doesn't make sense as to what happened to the guy (or how it was related to the stadium) and Google turns up nothing on the incident.
   65. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4623370)
Brock: Cincinnati's current park is called the Great American Ballpark and has been referred to a time or two by fans as the Great American Smallpark. It's a bandbox. Adam Dunn played left field there for years.
   66. AROM Posted: December 24, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4623392)
The last guy to have a relatively sustained job in the majors despite universal agreement that he was totally unable to hit was Tony Pena Jr. Would he have been valuable if he was as fast as Hamilton?


I wouldn't call him the last, and he only kept his job when he offered at least something at the plate. Pena in 2007 hit .267. An empty .267 - his OPS+ was only 68, but they were OK with that because he could field. Next year he hits .169, loses his job, and is converted into a pitcher because, well, he's got the bat for the position.

Brendan Ryan though - after a pretty good 2009 he's been a zero at the plate for the last 4 seasons, yet has kept his job because of defense. Jeff Mathis still gets half time play at catcher despite never hitting.
   67. bjhanke Posted: December 25, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4623828)
PASTE - Thanks for the info. Almost all of the new ballparks seem to be putting offense back into the game, if I've read enough to be reliable on that subject.

JIM - Here's the story in more detail. It was 1964, and the ballpark was then in the middle of a very bad piece of town. Like most of the older parks, its area of town used to be a good one, but urban sprawl and deterioration of the old buildings had created what was a class above a slum, but not better than that.

John Lough went to the game with some friends, using only one car, since there was no serious parking at the ballpark (like Wrigley Field still has to deal with). The group of them got to talking after the game was over, and went beyond the gate and out of the stadium. At the time, if you were not physically in the stadium, you could NOT go back in to relieve yourself, because the area of town had gotten that bad.

Well, John realized that he absolutely could not make it home without relieving himself. The group spotted a bar a block or so from the ballpark. John told the other guys to just get the car and circle the block that contained the bar. He'd go into the bar, use the toilet, and come out where they could pick him up. He came out in a body bag. No one knows who killed him, nor why, but he had been shot by someone in that bar.

The various political entities involved in the STL area were, at the time, trying to build a new ballpark, but there were serious conflicts over whether it should be built in St. Louis County (The County of St. Louis City is its own county) or downtown, where it might help urban revival. No one could agree on that, so there had not been any public political consensus over where to build that new ballpark. When John got murdered, suddenly the location of the ballpark stopped being much of an issue. St. Louis County removed its objections to the new ballpark being built downtown. Once that slid through, it still took a couple of years to build the new park. The move actually occurred during the 1966 season, in May. They had a big ceremony where old Sportsman's Park's home plate was helicoptered in to be put in place in the new park. The move drastically changed the characteristics of the park. Sportsman's was like a mirror of Fenway. Right Field was VERY short, and had a screen mounted on top of the RF wall, like the screens that all park have right behind home plate. The effect of this was to turn homers into doubles. The new ballpark was enormous everywhere, through to the end of Whitey Herzog's managerial career, when they pulled the fences in, which is why it was a neutral ballpark for homers in 1998 when Mark McGwire - you know that one.

But the murder of Jon Lough was the grease that got the wheels of ballpark progress unstuck. Does that cover the situation enough for you? I, of course, know all this in painful detail, because it was my mom's best friend's son. There may well have been a reluctance to put that story into baseball history because the area around Sportsman's was overwhelmingly inhabited by people of color, and no one wanted to say that the new ballpark got built because a black guy shot a white guy, especially since no one seemed to know who had done the shooting. - Brock

   68. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: December 25, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4623836)
Good post
   69. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 25, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4623849)
67 - Brock, I just looked up where the Sportsman's Park was, and if it were there now, there's no way I'd go into a bar to relieve myself. I'd go down to a bar near SLU before I did that. St Louis really is a very crappy town. It's sad.
   70. bjhanke Posted: December 26, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4624026)
Ivan - The area where Sportsman's Park was is now a better part of town. And St. Louis is VERY balkanized. There are really nice parts of town, and middle class, and places like where the park was, and just downright slums. This extends to ethnicity. Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola came from a part of St. Louis called The Hill, which is almost entirely Italian. South of that is an area originally built up by English people. Further south is Germantown; there's actually a whole other Germantown in the far northern parts of the city. The balkanization is virtually monolithic. When a family leaves a house on The Hill, it's almost never put up for sale. The neighborhood has a waiting list.

The biggest problem that the Sportsman's area had was that it was originally built mostly by Germans. Germans tended to build 2 or 3 story houses with almost no back yard and almost no side yards. The secondary problem is something that still plagues the city - it's an OLD city. STL was the 3rd largest city in the country about 1900 (New York, Philly - STL was still bigger than Chicago, although that was changing rapidly), which is why the 1904 World's Fair was here. So, as the buildings aged, they had no heat other than fires. No electricity. No air conditioning. No DRIVEWAYS because the city was older than the commercial automobile. Eventually, those buildings ended up as 4 apartments instead of one house. And that part of any town will always be inhabited by the poor. Sportsman's had been built around 1900, and was converted to concrete and steel in about 1909. At that time, it was one family to one house. By 1964, that was ancient history. Everyone knew that we needed a new ballpark, but the city / county politics had the process at a standstill. Then John Lough got murdered.

In any case, you simply cannot judge STL by looking at one part of it. The city is far too balkanized for that. And then there are the almost a hundred (seriously) suburbs that constitute St. Louis County. They are, essentially, railroad stops. I grew up in one, Webster Groves (CBS has a special about my high school, called "16 in Webster Groves." It's not entirely accurate). I now live about 3 miles west, in Kirkwood. The Webster / Kirkwood high school football rivalry dates back to 1900. But that's STL. EVERYTHING dates back to 1900. The main attractions in STL are largely in Forest Park, which is the old World's Fair grounds. In 1904. - Brock
   71. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 26, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4624174)
Brock: Cincinnati's current park is called the Great American Ballpark and has been referred to a time or two by fans as the Great American Smallpark. It's a bandbox. Adam Dunn played left field there for years.
Dunn played there for 4 1/2 years, in his prime (ages 23-28). During that time he averaged 42 HR/162 games; since he's left, he's averaged 36HR/162 games.

And despite what anyone thinks, the park factors don't show it to be a "bandbox".
   72. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: December 26, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4624405)
I interpreted the Dunn comment to mean "small enough that Dunn could sorta kinda adequately patrol it". Cincinnati has one of the smaller outfields in the majors (smallest, iirc, is Philly, largest (of course) is Coors).
   73. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:39 PM (#4624445)
Well, The Reds tolerated Dunn's glove because his bat made the tradeoff worthwhile; having a small outfield helps with that. I don't think Dunn's bat would have made his glove playable in the outfield in San Diego even in his prime.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
phredbird
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments
(1746 - 11:22am, Apr 21)
Last: Rickey! In a van on 95 south...

NewsblogVIDEO: Brewers, Pirates brawl after Carlos Gomez triple
(120 - 11:19am, Apr 21)
Last: Rennie's Tenet

NewsblogJ.R. Gamble: Albert Pujols' 500-Homer Chase Is A Bore, But That's Baseball's Fault
(4 - 11:18am, Apr 21)
Last: Never Give an Inge (Dave)

NewsblogMorosi: MLB must evolve to let players express themselves without rebuke
(18 - 11:16am, Apr 21)
Last: John Northey

NewsblogDoug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
(421 - 11:13am, Apr 21)
Last: The Id of SugarBear Blanks

NewsblogIvan Nova’s season in jeopardy after tearing elbow ligament
(12 - 11:13am, Apr 21)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(964 - 11:12am, Apr 21)
Last: ursus arctos

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-21-2014
(28 - 11:09am, Apr 21)
Last: Rennie's Tenet

NewsblogMinuteman News Center: Giandurco: This means WAR
(97 - 11:08am, Apr 21)
Last: tshipman

NewsblogBryce Harper benched for 'lack of hustle' despite quad injury
(109 - 11:01am, Apr 21)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogGleeman: Mets minor league team is hosting “Seinfeld night”
(162 - 11:00am, Apr 21)
Last: You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR)

NewsblogDeadspin: Here is a Chicken Playing Baseball
(1 - 10:52am, Apr 21)
Last: RoyalsRetro (AG#1F)

NewsblogOMNICHATTER for APRIL 21, 2014
(4 - 10:48am, Apr 21)
Last: Rickey! In a van on 95 south...

NewsblogDaniel Bryan's 'YES!' chant has spread to the Pirates' dugout
(138 - 10:11am, Apr 21)
Last: You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR)

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 1953 Ballot
(1 - 10:04am, Apr 21)
Last: DL from MN

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 1.2251 seconds
52 querie(s) executed