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

Friday, July 04, 2014

Erardi: Billy Hamilton plays like greats he doesn’t remember

Where have you gone…Lefty Gomez?

Over the years, the same has been true with all the great center fielders, from Willie Mays to Jim Edmonds and Andruw Jones and the Reds’ Eric Davis.

But it goes back even farther than that.

I related an anecdote to Hamilton that dates back to 1937.

New York Yankees pitching great Lefty Gomez was talking to rookie center fielder Joe DiMaggio one day after a game the Yankees had lost on a deep drive that one-hopped the center field wall at Yankee Stadium.

Gomez: “How come you were playing so shallow on that one, Joe?”

DiMaggio: “I’m gonna make ‘em forget Tris Speaker.”

Gomez: “You keep playing there, you’re gonna make ‘em forget Lefty Gomez.”

News flash to Lefty: They’ve already forgotten you—or at least Hamilton has; he didn’t seem to recognize the name, and I’m not sure he even recognized the name of DiMaggio, either—but he laughed at the story, because he got the point.

Almost four score years later, the Gomez-DiMaggio story still resonates.

Hamilton has gone to most of the Reds pitchers and told them that he’d like to play shallow.

“They’ve all said, ‘Do it,’” recalled Hamilton. “Cueto and Homer (Bailey) have told me point blank, ‘If they hit it over your head, it’s my fault.’ That gives me the confidence to play shallow. The pitchers hate the cheapies. They’d rather give up something hit hard than a broken-bat blooper.”

Repoz Posted: July 04, 2014 at 06:11 AM | 94 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, 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. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: July 04, 2014 at 07:40 AM (#4743129)
Hamilton's currently putting up a 2.1 bWAR and a 2.8 fWAR in just about half a season of play. That's pretty impressive for a guy that people thought would be a marginal major leaguer.

Also, he's been on first base 75 times and has 47 SB/CS.

Also also, he's been caught stealing 12 times? Wow. That's much higher than I'd have expected.
   2. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: July 04, 2014 at 07:51 AM (#4743130)
Big-league catchers/pitchers are better at preventing stolen bases than their minor league counterparts...especially when you know the guy's gonna run.
   3. AndrewJ Posted: July 04, 2014 at 08:26 AM (#4743135)
News flash to Lefty: They’ve already forgotten you—or at least Hamilton has; he didn’t seem to recognize the name, and I’m not sure he even recognized the name of DiMaggio, either—but he laughed at the story, because he got the point.

Nothing to see here. Before the 1951 regular season the Yankees played an exhibition game in Brooklyn, and Casey Stengel discussed the outfield layout of Ebbets Field with Mickey Mantle: "I played in this park the year it opened --"

Mickey (incredulously): "You were a big leaguer, Casey?"

Casey: "Do you think I was born 61 years old?"
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: July 04, 2014 at 08:33 AM (#4743136)

Hamilton like Lou Brock: runs a lot, gets thrown out a lot, lousy OBP for a leadoff man

   5. John DiFool2 Posted: July 04, 2014 at 10:23 AM (#4743152)
.301/.328/.438 since April 21, FWIW.
   6. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 04, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4743156)
So Hamilton is at about 74% success rate right now -- what's the broad breakeven rate for the current offensive environment?
   7. Ron J2 Posted: July 04, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4743205)
#6 It's something close to 72% to steal 2nd (with no runner on 3rd. Higher with a runner on 3rd) And higher to steal 3rd. Varies by out situation and you're gaining remarkably little stealing second with Joey Votto at the plate.

He's basically adding next to nothing stealing bases right now.
   8. Ron J2 Posted: July 04, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4743226)
Oh and the steal of home is very interesting. You need 86% to do it with nobody out, 30% with 2 out.

Steal of 3rd with 2 out requires around 87%.
   9. McCoy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4743267)
He's basically adding next to nothing stealing bases right now.

Not according to the actual game results.

First caught stealing of the season was probably harmless but go ahead and ding him for the caught stealing. The next two steals both resulted in him scoring and neither would probably have happened if he hadn't stolen second base. Next CS probably cost them a run. His next two steals result in him scoring once and other was a 2 out steal with inning ending shortly thereafter. After that 3 of his next 4 steals happen with 2 outs and all 4 steals amount to nothing. But his next steal results in two runs scoring. His steal causes an error to score and then he comes around to score from third on a groundout. He then has a CS as PR with no outs and the next two strikeout and fail to get the ball out of the infield. He gets another CS with one out and the next two batters get outs as well. In his next game he has a CS and a SB with the CS probably costing the team a run and the stealing giving them a run. In his next game he steals third with 2 outs and then scores on the subsequent single. The single was a line drive to short right so I doubt he goes home if he was on third or at the very least it would have been a close play.. Next steal amounts to nothing. He then steals second and then third and then scores. Next steal probably doesn't amount to much as he probably would have scored anyway. The next game is tricky as he steals second with 1 out, moves up to third on a groundout, and then is out at home on a pickoff. He then has a 2 steal game in which neither played a role in the scoring. His next steal results in him moving up to third on an error on the play but he does not score and in his next game he scores after the steal but he probably would have scored anyway. Now we are in June and his first game of that month he steals 2 bases and in both times he forces an error that moves him to third and both times he scores but in one of the inning he might very well have scored anyway. His next game he gets caught and it results in a loss of a run. His next steal results in him scoring. His next steal has him scoring but he probably scores anyway and his next steal does not result in him scoring. He then gets picked off but it probably doesn't cost them a run as his fellow players didn't do anything of note. Now we have the 3 steal game in which he scores twice and gets to third on an error with the next two batters striking out. His next steal allows him to score on a sacrifice and his next steal comes in an inning in which he scores but he probably scores anyway. That happens as well the very next day. His next attempt ends an inning while his next steal sends him to third and he tries for home on a popfly and gets tagged out. His next game features a CS and a SB. The SB results in no runs scoring while the CS is a little complex as the inning ends with another Red getting caught stealing as well. His final CS of the month probably doesn't cost the Reds a run. His final steal of the season so far doesn't result in a run scoring but it does put allow him to move up to third on the second out where he is then stranded.

So adding up the sure runs I have him adding 13 runs because of his steals and costing 3 runs because of his caught stealing. I have 23 SB in which I give no credit and 8 CS in which I have given no credit. Even if we make the CS worth -.66 and the steals as .33 he still adds a few runs to his total. Even if we set them aside his attempts to steal have netted the Reds 10 runs in 14 games or so. That is huge.
   10. BDC Posted: July 04, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4743284)
Excellent post, McCoy. I have often thought that MVP arguments should be made that way: look in granular terms at what players contributed, instead of abstracting from aggregate stats. Not all doubles or great catches contribute the same abstract amount of help towards winning, and so with SB.
   11. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 04, 2014 at 02:05 PM (#4743321)
Lou Brock as an above average CF would be a hell of a player and probably a HOFer.
   12. Swedish Chef Posted: July 04, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4743326)
He's pretty great right now and he can get better. The nay-sayers have lost all their credibility and should go hide under a rock. Billy Hamilton for President!
   13. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 04, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4743336)
Isn't McCoys post basically a verbalization of WPA? I'm not saying it's not interesting, it is, but over the course of 162 games it does not vary a lot from the component numbers.
   14. GregD Posted: July 04, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4743355)
Isn't McCoys post basically a verbalization of WPA? I'm not saying it's not interesting, it is, but over the course of 162 games it does not vary a lot from the component numbers.
Your first point is true.

The second, I wonder about. Stolen base attempts are voluntary. It is not inherently true that all players will make the choice in the same ways. A player who is wise about picking when to steal may well in the aggregate cost his team fewer runs per caught stealing than the average player, right?
   15. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4743361)
A player who is wise about picking when to steal may well in the aggregate cost his team fewer runs per caught stealing than the average player, right?


Stealing to the score? :-)

I think you are right to an extent. Steal attempts are probably tilted toward closer games (unwritten rules!) so successes are likely to be more helpful but failures are going to be more harmful. I don't have data here so if anyone can confirm or contradict I'd be interested but my guess is the net is probably relatively minor in difference.

For your theory to have validity Hamilton would need to be more successful in close situations than other situations. I would be skeptical of that in part because of defenses. If he's on first in a one run game in the ninth I'm going to make some pickoff throws and mix in a pitchout. In a 9-4 game in the 8th I'm not as likely to do those things.
   16. Ziggy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4743363)
Whether he's contributing or not, on McCoy's account, has a lot to do with what happened after the steal attempt. What happens afterwards isn't a contribution that he makes, his contribution is the expected runs scored after the steal attempt minus the expected runs scored before the steal attempt. The other part is Joey Votto's or Brandon Philip's contribution (or whoever is at bat). And doing the expected-after minus expected-before calculations is exactly where we get the break-even points.

That said, we could have the break-even points wrong, since the 2014 Reds, on any given day, are not quite the long-term average that we use to calculate those. So Hamilton might know that Votto didn't sleep well last night (or whatever) and is unlikely to drive the ball for a double, so he knows that, today, stealing second has more value than it usually does, which pushes the break-even point down. Given the generic unpredictability of baseball events, however, I doubt that this amounts to very much.

All that said, as Yeargh said in 11, I'd be pretty happy with Lou Brock in CF. His hitting is better than anyone expected. He's already got 5 more home runs than I thought he'd have this year (and he's only hit four!). Even if he's only passing the break-even point on steals, he's a solid major leaguer.
   17. KT's Pot Arb Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4743364)
Isn't McCoys post basically a verbalization of WPA? I'm not saying it's not interesting, it is, but over the course of 162 games it does not vary a lot from the component numbers.


WPA doesn't incorporate errors created or the value he adds forcing pitchouts and the extra work/attention he requires from catcher/pitcher/fielders.

And neither does WAR.
   18. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4743366)
Billy Hamilton will make people forget Billy Hamilton.
   19. Ziggy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4743368)
That's funny, but I think that, unfortunately, very few people remember Billy Hamilton. Primates are an unusual bunch.
   20. KT's Pot Arb Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4743369)
And people who think there is a single league wide break-even percentage for steals probably also think the sacrifice tables based on league average pitchers/hitters are gospel for every situation.

I'm not saying that Billy's steals are in spots where he can create value with a lower success rate, I'm saying it's a lot more work to determine what his break-even rate actually is, and using raw success rates can be misleading.

A young kid stealing a ton of bases even at only a break-even rate also bodes well for his future. It's likely he will steal nearly as often with a substantially higher success rate in the future, not just by improving his base stealing skills further (compared to his peers he's still hasn't played baseball for very long) but by reducing/eliminating steal attempts in situations where he has his worst success rates.
   21. McCoy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4743372)
WPA doesn't incorporate errors created or the value he adds forcing pitchouts and the extra work/attention he requires from catcher/pitcher/fielders.

And neither does WAR.


Nor does it give preceding events part of the credit or blame for current and future events. For instance Hamilton steals with one out and the next guy hits a single that scores Hamilton from third. WPA doesn't go back and add value to Hamilton's steal even though Hamilton doesn't score unless he steals third. So in the example I give Hamilton's double is 6%, his steal of third is 3%, and Votto's single gets 6% as well. Yet the only reason Votto's single is worth as much as Hamilton's double and twice as much as Hamilton's steal is because Hamilton stole third.
   22. McCoy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4743374)
By the way Billy has stolen 12 times so far while only getting caught twice. That bodes well for him as well.
   23. Howie Menckel Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4743375)

"It's likely he will steal nearly as often with a substantially higher success rate in the future,"

is there any evidence at all for that?

I can just as easily conclude that MLB teams now have an extensive video book on Hamilton's "tells" at first base on when he is going to go, and therefore improve my chances of holding him at first/picking him off/caught stealing.
   24. McCoy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4743379)
Well, you had Chad Curtis who got thrown out a bunch when he was younger and kept right on getting thrown out a bunch as he got older. Gerald Young got thrown out a bunch as a youth and basically stopped running. . . and playing. Bert Campaneris got thrown out a bunch and kept on getting thrown out a bunch as well.

For the most part I would think you either learn to pick your spots, which means you run less, or you keep on running and occasionally getting thrown out until you lose a step at which point you either cut back on attempting to steal or you lose playing time.
   25. GregD Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4743381)
For the most part I would think you either learn to pick your spots, which means you run less, or you keep on running and occasionally getting thrown out until you lose a step at which point you either cut back on attempting to steal or you lose playing time.
Or you have Davey Lopes as your coach
   26. KT's Pot Arb Posted: July 04, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4743619)
I can just as easily conclude that MLB teams now have an extensive video book on Hamilton's "tells" at first base on when he is going to go, and therefore improve my chances of holding him at first/picking him off/caught stealing.


Which obviously would bode well for his future, since he can learn to use those same tells to mislead them, and work on running without them, and either of raise changes immediately improve his success rate.
   27. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: July 04, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4743622)
9: TL/DR.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: July 04, 2014 at 07:21 PM (#4743643)

So you're saying you have no evidence at all. That's ok.
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 08:11 PM (#4743663)
Just because I was curious, I went and looked at players younger than 25, with more than 50 stolen base attempts in a season, sorted by highest stolen base percentage....Number one on that list was Mike Trout, he's a damn good player.
   30. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: July 04, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4743679)
Billy has hit his 5th homerun of the season tonight. He has 1 fewer than Joey Votto. Also, he is slugging .410 to Joey's .411. And, I know they are meaningless to this crowd, but, Billy has 30 rbi now, 8 more than Joey. Votto has completely fallen apart. He can't put any weight on his back leg, and, I am expecting that he is going to hit the DL again fairly soon.

edit: Reds sluggers that Billy Hamilton is currently outslugging

Brandon Phillips, the cleanup hitter
Jay Bruce, the #5 hitter
Ryan Ludwick

edit, edit: and, of course, Joey Votto just doubled in a run. He must have heard me typing.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 08:58 PM (#4743685)
Might have a better slg percentage, but not better iso. Votto with .156(slightly above league average) vs Hamilton with .121.... still Hamilton is doing very well....much better than expected.
   32. McCoy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 09:27 PM (#4743697)
He still can't hit lefties worth a shvt. Probably should sit him against lefties for the first couple of PA and then use him as a pinch runner and keep him in the game. He would probably avoid the lefty starter that way and he'd be guaranteed at least one situation when he would be at his most dangerous and valuable.
   33. KT's Pot Arb Posted: July 04, 2014 at 09:30 PM (#4743699)
So you're saying you have no evidence at all. That's ok.


Statistical studies aren't the only, or often even the best way to come to conclusions about future performance.

Sometimes it's okay to take your head out of the spreadsheets and use actual logic. Bill James used to be known to do a bit of that.

Obviously logical inference can't tell us how likely Billy is to improve, but we know that players at his age are more likely to improve than not.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 09:31 PM (#4743700)
He still can't hit lefties worth a shvt. Probably should sit him against lefties for the first couple of PA and then use him as a pinch runner and keep him in the game. He would probably avoid the lefty starter that way and he'd be guaranteed at least one situation when he would be at his most dangerous and valuable.


His defense has been a big plus... don't bat him leadoff against lefties, but nothing wrong with batting him 9th or later down in the lineup, his 9 rField is worth having on the field probably.
   35. McCoy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 09:34 PM (#4743703)
I would think sitting him for one or two PA against lefties and then putting him on first or second would be more valuable than having him make outs in those two PA and take the field where he might involved in 1 or 2 plays which would most likely be routine. I mean batting him 9th already means you want him to have one less PA anyway so why not get him on base to offset that lost PA?
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 09:38 PM (#4743705)
I would think sitting him for one or two PA against lefties and then putting him on first or second would be more valuable than having him make outs in those two PA and take the field where he might involved in 1 or 2 plays which would most likely be routine. I mean batting him 9th already means you want him to have one less PA anyway so why not get him on base to offset that lost PA?


It would depend on the replacement player you have at center and how much you want to expose him to left handed pitcher to improve his ability against them. I agree with your idea of leveraging him and choosing to rest him against lefties, but if you want to develop him, he's not going to develop by facing Loogies and that type of pitcher.
   37. McCoy Posted: July 04, 2014 at 09:42 PM (#4743706)
The off-season, spring training, and blow outs are the time to develop someone. Well, that and when you plan on losing 90 or more games in a season. The Reds are 5.5 games back, the Reds need to maximize their output this season not work on developing a player at the cost of wins.
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: July 04, 2014 at 11:07 PM (#4743740)

Dee Gordon is an interesting comp.

higher AVG, OPB, and SLG, and MUCH better SB pct.

so a better offensive player in 2014

but he gives away a lot on defense, relatively, so...

   39. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: July 04, 2014 at 11:17 PM (#4743746)
I would think sitting him for one or two PA against lefties


The other 2 guys on the team that can handle center field are Chris Heisey and Skip Schumaker.

Heisey can't hit at all anymore. Schumaker is a little better than Billy against lefties, but, is almost certainly giving a lot of that back on defense. It is not a bad idea, but, as currently constituted, the Reds wouldn't be gaining much, if anything sitting Billy against lh starters.

The amazing thing is that when Billy was drafted, he was strictly a right-handed hitter. He took up switch-hitting as a pro, and he is now a better hitter from the left side than the right.
   40. Walt Davis Posted: July 05, 2014 at 01:19 AM (#4743781)
Also these weird Hamilton "career" splits:

Home: 222/276/333
Away: 323/343/448

Also the strange H/A split of 130 PA vs 204 PA. I assume just random luck as to when he's been banged up.
   41. OCF Posted: July 05, 2014 at 02:15 AM (#4743785)
Lou Brock as an above average CF would be a hell of a player and probably a HOFer.

Of course, Lou Brock is in the HoF anyway (3000 hits, after all). But yes, Lou Brock as an above average CF would also be in the Hall of Merit. As a Cub. (The Cubs had already tried Brock in center and decided he couldn't handle it, long before the trade. The Cardinals already had a CF.)

But Brock is a problematic comparison because his long, steady career greatly exceeded reasonable expectations for him. Vince Coleman didn't last like that; Willie Wilson didn't last like that; Lonnie Smith didn't last like that (although Lonnie had an improbable late-career resurgence as a different kind of player.) When I was hearing about Hamilton's minor league exploits, I always thought about Coleman. But Hamilton does seem to be a better defensive player than Coleman. How does Wilson work as a comparison?
   42. BDC Posted: July 05, 2014 at 09:02 AM (#4743829)
Lou Brock had decent power, and was a .293 career hitter despite his prime coming in the worst years imaginable for batting average. As a result, Brock was at the very least a good player for 15 years, as OCF notes, even as a bad left fielder in his thirties. In that light, it's very promising that Hamilton has five HR already this year (he hit another one yesterday). If he can hit 10-12 HR and a 30 doubles every year, he's got significant advantages on, say, Vince Coleman.
   43. Ziggy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4743877)
I suspect that the power numbers in 42 are a bit optimistic - especially since even in his surprisingly good rookie year Hamilton is on pace for something a fraction under 10 HR. But Coleman with good defense in CF is probably an average major leaguer. That would be okay.
   44. cardsfanboy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 12:36 PM (#4743910)
I suspect that the power numbers in 42 are a bit optimistic - especially since even in his surprisingly good rookie year Hamilton is on pace for something a fraction under 10 HR. But Coleman with good defense in CF is probably an average major leaguer. That would be okay.


Vince Coleman was an average player for his first six years in the majors. Make him a plus defensive centerfielder and you have a plus player-borderline all star.
   45. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 05, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4744109)
Willie Wilson is a good comp. He was a hell of a player but fell apart in his 30s (cocaine?). If he'd just a few more above average years he'd be a borderline HOFer/HOMer.

Also, I looked a bunch of the best base stealers of the last 30 years, and found several who improved their % after a few years in the league. In fact, Rickey was in the 70s for most of his early 20s and improved to the mid 80s in his late 20s and early 30s. Brock had a similar trend. So it's certainly not the case that great base stealers come in to the league fully formed.
   46. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4744116)
And the amount of stolen bases he had decreased as him success rate went up.
   47. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 05, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4744151)
Who, Rickey? He stopped stealing 100+ bases, but he was still stealing 70-80 until his early 30s.

In any event, Hamilton is at 79% in about 60 attempts over half a season. If he can consistently get 80-100 SBs at an 80% rate and remains a league average hitter and a decent CF he'll be very, very valuable.
   48. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 05, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4744173)
Juan Pierre is a good comp if things don't go as well. He was a mediocre basestealer and CF, and didn't make up for it with his bat.
   49. Howie Menckel Posted: July 05, 2014 at 05:28 PM (#4744184)

"Statistical studies aren't the only, or often even the best way to come to conclusions about future performance.

Sometimes it's okay to take your head out of the spreadsheets and use actual logic. Bill James used to be known to do a bit of that."

Agreed. That's why I'm not surprised that those who extrapolated Hamilton's 13/14 SB success rate last Sept into a very high success rate this year missed the mark. It made no sense to me that teams wouldn't spend a good amount of time breaking him down via tape, and benefiting accordingly. Do you think he's slower now than last September?

So I used actual logic, and it's working pretty well for me so far.
   50. Ziggy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4744234)
? Do stolen base rates stabilize after 14 attempts? My guess would be that any self-respecting projection system would regress the hell out of 14 stolen base attempts.

Why wouldn't it stabilize that quickly (if, in fact, it doesn't)? It sure could be because teams look at tape of new players in the league. The spreadsheet couldn't tell you that they do that, but it could tell you to apply a lot of regression to 14 SB attempts.
   51. Howie Menckel Posted: July 05, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4744262)
The Hamilton widespread meme throughout last year was that he was so fast that no one could throw him out, basically, and the 13 for 14 just proved that. I agree that wasn't logical, but that claim was everywhere.

evidence of claims seems to be frowned upon in the thread, but from The Sporting News on Feb. 14:

http://www.sportingnews.com/fantasy/mlb/story/2014-02-14/fantasy-baseball-billy-hamilton-starter-cincinnati-reds-stolen-bases-rankings-sleeper-mock-draft

"If he's in the opening day lineup this spring, a 100-stolen base season is possible right away. Consider the league-wide stolen base percentage dropped from 74.0 percent in 2012 to 72.8 percent in '13, but those are two of the four highest percentages since 1980. Hamilton got caught once last season, but that's not going to happen often. It's like trying to shoot Jesse James."

   52. Ziggy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4744268)
Okay, fair enough.
   53. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4744443)
WPA doesn't incorporate errors created or the value he adds forcing pitchouts and the extra work/attention he requires from catcher/pitcher/fielders.

And neither does WAR.


And what about when he distracts his batter? Haven't studies shown that these effects essentially cancel each other out?
   54. Howie Menckel Posted: July 05, 2014 at 09:06 PM (#4744451)

Bill James was the first to notice that evidence of the theoretical "wow, a fast guy on 1st makes the pitcher struggle and the hitter better" idea - plausible on its face - could not be found in actual data for many decades of research.

Bill James is/was funny that way, not just assuming things without evidence.
   55. Howie Menckel Posted: July 05, 2014 at 10:03 PM (#4744472)
and for the cherry-picking crowd, Hamilton now 1 for his 1ast 12 for 7 Ks and 0 BB and 0 SB
   56. Rob_Wood Posted: July 06, 2014 at 05:35 AM (#4744575)
I did a study in the 1990s and found that batters had slightly better outcomes when a potential base stealer was on first base (in a base stealing situation) compared to a non-base stealer. The effect was noticeable, but smaller than anticipated.
   57. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: July 06, 2014 at 08:34 AM (#4744585)
The Hamilton widespread meme throughout last year was that he was so fast that no one could throw him out, basically, and the 13 for 14 just proved that. I agree that wasn't logical, but that claim was everywhere.

evidence of claims seems to be frowned upon in the thread, but from The Sporting News on Feb. 14:

http://www.sportingnews.com/fantasy/mlb/story/2014-02-14/fantasy-baseball-billy-hamilton-starter-cincinnati-reds-stolen-bases-rankings-sleeper-mock-draft

"If he's in the opening day lineup this spring, a 100-stolen base season is possible right away. Consider the league-wide stolen base percentage dropped from 74.0 percent in 2012 to 72.8 percent in '13, but those are two of the four highest percentages since 1980. Hamilton got caught once last season, but that's not going to happen often. It's like trying to shoot Jesse James."


Hamilton was 75/90 (83%) in steals at Louisville in 2013 and 155/192 (81%) in Bakersfield/Pensacola in 2012. No serious analyst (The Sporting News still exists?) or thinking fan thought that "no one can throw him out." But we get it, you don't like Hamilton and/or people getting excited about speed.

   58. Howie Menckel Posted: July 06, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4744602)
I like Hamilton except for the CSs, which are kind of important.

And I still don't get why we should just assume his success rate is going to go up.
   59. Ron J2 Posted: July 08, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4745970)
#45 Bill James attributes Wilson's decline to a change in hitting style encouraged by Lee May. According to James, May encouraged him to hit the ball harder. Unfortunately according to James he ended up with only warning track power. He traded a few home runs for a bunch of flyouts.

While it seems nutty, in precisely the same time frame Rickey Henderson was also being urged by Steve Boros to try and make a similar style change and it worked very well. (James came down hard on both May and Boros. May after seeing the result and Boros before the results were known)
   60. Ron J2 Posted: July 08, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4745987)
#14 This type of argument was the first use of what we now call Retrosheet data. A study by Dave Smith convinced Pete Palmer to use much higher values for stolen bases (and a much more negative value for caught stealing) than his studies suggested. The idea was that since stolen bases are not random (as Smith pointed out, even Maury Wills in 1962 ran with greater frequency in high leverage situations). Turned out not to work that well in practice.

Tom Ruane did what McCoy did in post 9 to a couple of decades of Retrosheet data (and one of the great things about the way WAR is constructed is that you can use Tom's methods -- basically RPA -- and plug those number in).

What it boils down to though is that it looks like it's worthwhile arguing specific exceptions on a case by case basis. The "average" values generally work pretty well.

At the career level too. The biggest misses of the straight linear weights approach according to Tom were:

Paul Molitor    +20
Pete Rose       
+19
Rod Carew       
+18
Carney Lansford 
+13
Willie Wilson   
+13
Ron LeFlore     
+13
Lou Whitaker    
+12
Tony Phillips   
+11
Brian Downing   
+11
Dave Winfield   
+10 


(IE according to Tom's methods Molitor added 20 more runs than you'd expect with his base stealing)

And the trailers:
Chuck Knoblauch  -16
Jose Cruz        
-14
Julio Cruz       
-10
Tony Bernazard   
-10
Von Hayes         
-9
Mike Cameron      
-9
Bert Campaneris   
-9
Brady Anderson    
-8
Felix Jose        
-8
Pokey Reese       
-7
Kenny Lofton      
-

   61. smileyy Posted: July 08, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4746024)
Given when Hamilton was called up last year, I suspect it was only contenders that had any serious interest in proactive scouting of his baserunning tendencies.
   62. Ron J2 Posted: July 08, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4746091)
#54 Actually James just mentioned that a number of players complained about the distraction (Dwayne Murphy for instance) and noted that there wasn't any evidence as to a fast guy on first helping the hitter. (Actually not quite correct now that I think about it. He did speculate that the Padres decision to let Alan Wiggins go might have contributed to Tony Gwynn's poorish season.)

Kevin Hoare (in the 1987 Great American Baseball Stat Book -- published with James' involvement) did the first study on the matter (1985 AL data being all that was available to him)

EDIT: Further to what Rob wrote about his (and other) studies on the matter. Looks like batters do a fair amount better if the runner is held but doesn't run and they probably do a fair amount worse when the stolen base is attempted (but this effect seems to be getting smaller as there is less hit and run or straight take signs being given out)
   63. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 08, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4746120)
Looks like batters do a fair amount better if the runner is held but doesn't run and they probably do a fair amount worse when the stolen base is attempted


This stands to reason. If a stolen base threat is on first but doesn't go, the batter's probably gotten a nice fastball to swing at. If he goes, he more often than not has just let a strike go past him.
   64. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 08, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4746138)
He's basically adding next to nothing stealing bases right now.

Not according to the actual game results.


This reminds me of the anecdote that Bill James told in the new abstract about George Bell. James was asked to provide data to support Bell's arbitration, and he pointed out that of all the errors that Bell made in the outfield the previous season, not one of them led to a loss (either they happened during wins or didn't lead to a run being scored that affected the outcome).
   65. Ron J2 Posted: July 08, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4746182)
#64 Yup. Bell fielded to score.
   66. Ron J2 Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4746193)
#63 There are also constraints on the placement of fielders. Somebody has to cover second and the runner has to be held on.

Speaking of which I'm am reminded of a story about the Braves around the time Chuck Tanner was fired.

Fast runner on first. Pitcher not paying attention. First baseman not holding. Catcher (Ozzie Virgil) gets off a perfect throw, but there was nobody covering second. (Pretty sure that Andres Thomas was supposed to be covering and that Ted Simmons was playing first)



   67. TDF, situational idiot Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4746207)
In case you were wondering if Hamilton's baserunning ability matters, he went from 1st to 3rd on a single to LF last night, then scored on a SF.
   68. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4746213)
He's +5 from baserunning in about 350 PAs, or 10 for a full season. That's pretty good.
   69. PreservedFish Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:33 PM (#4746216)
Bell fielded to score.


All of his errors resulted from his experiments on new fielding techniques. He never would have tried it during a close game.
   70. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4746218)
Oh and the steal of home is very interesting. You need 86% to do it with nobody out, 30% with 2 out.


What is the success rate for this play? I've often thought that it should be used more.
   71. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:35 PM (#4746219)
WPA doesn't incorporate errors created or the value he adds forcing pitchouts and the extra work/attention he requires from catcher/pitcher/fielders.


Or the distraction he inflicts on the batter.
   72. PreservedFish Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4746223)
You need 86% to do it with nobody out, 30% with 2 out.


I wonder how many 3B coaches realize that the break-even on sending the runner with 2 outs is only 30%.
   73. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4746227)
Dee Gordon is the one having an excellent year stealing bases. 42-9, 82.4%.
   74. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4746232)
Rickey really was amazing on the bases. Led the league in steals every year from age 21-27 (going 627-155, 80%), then took a year off (41-8, 84%), then ripped off another streak leading the league every year from ages 29-32 (293-55, 84%), then "only" went 237-59 (80%) from ages 33-38 before leading the league again (66-13, 84%) at age 39. Then finished at 109-34 (76%) from ages 40-44.

Led the league in SB 12 times and CS 5 times.

1406-335, 80.8%, for his career.

   75. BDC Posted: July 08, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4746241)
The Bill-James Bell anecdote that RTG retells is intriguing. Put case that Bell is a klutz and that the SDL of his errors' context is not repeatable, it's still the case that for figuring out how much he helped Toronto win in a given year is a matter of what actually happened, not of an abstraction therefrom.

Now, the luck has dang-all to do with how much to pay him next year, but that's not his problem :)
   76. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 08, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4746244)
Other interesting modern base stealers:

Eric Davis 349-66 (84%, a crazy good percentage)

Barry Bonds 514-141 (79%)

---------------

Ichiro 478-108 (82%)

Gwynn 319-125

Beltran 309-48 (87%, highest on this list)

Abreu 400-128

---------------

Wills 586-208 (74%)

Coleman 752-177 (81%)

Raines 808-146 (85%)

WWilson 668-134

Brock 938-307 (75%)

Lofton 622-160

Lopes 557-114

Cedeno 550-179

Bobby Bonds 461-169

--------------

OSmith 580-148

Morgan 689-162 (81%)

Molitor 504-131

Reyes 442-110

Rollins 441-94

Jeter 354-96 (79%)

ARod 322-76 (81%)

--------------

Butler is odd. 558-257 (69%) but managers kept letting him go.

I had no idea Molitor stole 500 bases.
   77. Ziggy Posted: July 08, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4746253)
How many runs does that work out to? If the break-even point is 75%, it can't be as much as most people would guess.

I'll try to work it out real quick (and I could be getting this entirely wrong). The Book says that the run value for a steal is .175 and for a caught stealing it's -.467. 1406*.175 = 246.05. Okay, now 335 * -.467 = -156.445. First figure plus the second gives us 89.6. So something around 9 wins for his career. About .03 wins per game, or little under .5 runs per 162. Is that right?
   78. Ziggy Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:03 PM (#4746289)
Why is the stolen base % leader board full of active guys? Of course some of them will drop as they get older, but Jayson Werth, for example, is old, active, and among the all-time leaders. (Trout is #1.) Davy Lopes is the oldest guy in the top 30. Go out to top 40 and you pick up Joe Morgan.
   79. Ziggy Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4746296)
Edit button isn't working for me today. That should be .003 wins per game and .5 WINS per 162.
   80. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4746313)
Eric Davis 349-66 (84%, a crazy good percentage)


The young Eric Davis was amazing:

1984 10-2
1985 16-3
1986 80-11
1987 50-6
1988 35-3
tot 191-25 88.4%

as was Beltran
1998 3-0
1999 27-8
2000 31-1!
2001 35-7
2002 41-4
2003 42-3
tot 179-23 88.6%

edit: heck, Eric Davis through his first retirement (after the 1994 season)
306-45 87.1%
   81. TDF, situational idiot Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4746315)
I'll try to work it out real quick (and I could be getting this entirely wrong). The Book says that the run value for a steal is .175 and for a caught stealing it's -.467. 1406*.175 = 246.05. Okay, now 335 * -.467 = -156.445. First figure plus the second gives us 89.6. So something around 9 wins for his career. About .03 wins per game, or little under .5 runs per 162. Is that right?
Probably not. Doesn't The Book use numbers from the Silly Ball era, while Rickey was doing most of his damage before that when SB were more valuable?
   82. TDF, situational idiot Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4746319)
EDIT: Never mind, bad math
   83. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4746343)
The young Eric Davis was amazing:

1984 10-2
1985 16-3
1986 80-11
1987 50-6
1988 35-3
tot 191-25 88.4%

as was Beltran
1998 3-0
1999 27-8
2000 31-1!
2001 35-7
2002 41-4
2003 42-3
tot 179-23 88.6%


Trout is about there. 96-12, 88.8%.

Does anyone get up to 90% career with, say, 100 or more steals?
   84. RJ in TO Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4746344)
I had no idea Molitor stole 500 bases.


He was great on the bases up until the very end. With the Jays, at ages 36 to 38, he was 54-4, which is just a ridiculous rate of success. With Minnesota, at ages 39 to 41, he was still a very good 38-12.
   85. Ron J2 Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4746393)
#70 It's done very infrequently as a planned play these days 12 SB of home in 2013, 17 CS (with the Brewers having 1SB 5CS). I'll bet a big chunk of these were blown squeeze plays.
   86. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 08, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4746413)
#6 It's something close to 72% to steal 2nd (with no runner on 3rd. Higher with a runner on 3rd) And higher to steal 3rd. Varies by out situation and you're gaining remarkably little stealing second with Joey Votto at the plate.

...Oh and the steal of home is very interesting. You need 86% to do it with nobody out, 30% with 2 out.

...Steal of 3rd with 2 out requires around 87%.


Would it gain anything significant to do sort of a weighted SB analysis, i.e. not just SB-CS but looking at which base was stolen/attempted and what the base/out/runners situation was, and maybe even the game state (i.e., bottom of the 7th, down by 2). Seeing as steal attempts (other than hit and runs) are purely discretionary on the part of the runner.
   87. TDF, situational idiot Posted: July 09, 2014 at 09:22 AM (#4746804)
and for the cherry-picking crowd, Hamilton now 1 for his 1ast 12 for 7 Ks and 0 BB and 0 SB
For the cherry-picking haters, Hamilton is 6-16 since you wrote this, with 2 BB, 2 SB (0 CS), 1K, 6 RBI, a 2B and two stand-up 3B (.345/.444/.688).

When Hamilton started the season, he was seen a a super-fast guy who would struggle with the rest of his game to the point that some thought he couldn't stick. So far, he's been a super-fast guy who's been OK at the plate (-1 Rbat), very good on the bases, and spectacular in the field (TZ has him as the best CF, and 2nd best defender overall in the NL).

Even if Hamilton doesn't turn into the best baserunner ever, it's time to admit that he's a very good baseball player.
   88. Howie Menckel Posted: July 09, 2014 at 09:31 AM (#4746805)
He has been very good so far this season, absolutely. Still not an ideal leadoff hitter re OBP and has to cut down on CS, but overall quite effective.
   89. Ron J2 Posted: July 09, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4746819)
#86 I'm open to considering that on a case by case basis. It's generally not going to move the needle and it's a fair amount of work.
   90. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: July 09, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4746971)
He has been very good so far this season, absolutely. Still not an ideal leadoff hitter re OBP and has to cut down on CS, but overall quite effective.

That is fair. Keep in mind that much of the Hamilton euphoria was based on the real fear that he would put up a Wily Taveras-esque slash line. Before the season I was hoping that he could keep the OBP at .300; anything north of that is gravy.
   91. formerly dp Posted: July 09, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4746995)
Any discussion of recent great basestealers has to include Otis Nixon-- 620 steals (77% success rate) in spite of not being an everyday player until he was 32. Swiped 26 bases in 84 games at age 40. Strange, strange career...including a couple of really fun years for the Jays in his late 30s.
   92. theboyqueen Posted: July 09, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4747117)
I refuse to believe Otis "Methuselah" Nixon was ever a day under 100.
   93. theboyqueen Posted: July 09, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4747119)
Thanks to google, I just learned that Otis Nixon was once married to Perri "Pebbles" Reid (of 80's hits "Mercedes Boy" and "Girlfriend" fame).
   94. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: July 09, 2014 at 03:36 PM (#4747171)
How many runs does that work out to? If the break-even point is 75%, it can't be as much as most people would guess.

I'll try to work it out real quick (and I could be getting this entirely wrong). The Book says that the run value for a steal is .175 and for a caught stealing it's -.467. 1406*.175 = 246.05. Okay, now 335 * -.467 = -156.445. First figure plus the second gives us 89.6. So something around 9 wins for his career. About .03 wins per game, or little under .5 wins per 162. Is that right?


Linear weights style run values underrate stolen bases, since they are disproportionately likely to happen in high leverage situations (down by 1, tied game) as opposed to low leverage situations (up or down by many runs).

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Randy Jones
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogRuben Amaro Jr., on standing pat at deadline
(6 - 8:01pm, Jul 31)
Last: Gold Star - just Gold Star

NewsblogOTP - July 2014: Republicans Lose To Democrats For Sixth Straight Year In Congressional Baseball Game
(3968 - 7:58pm, Jul 31)
Last: tshipman

NewsblogJULY 31 2014 OMNICHATTER/TRADE DEADLINE CHATTER
(335 - 7:54pm, Jul 31)
Last: Dan

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread- July 2014
(1058 - 7:41pm, Jul 31)
Last: Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play

NewsblogMinnesota Twins sign Kurt Suzuki to two-year contract extension
(1 - 7:40pm, Jul 31)
Last: Jim (jimmuscomp)

NewsblogYankees land infielders Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at Deadline
(7 - 7:39pm, Jul 31)
Last: bigglou115

NewsblogHardball Talk: Calcaterra: Nationals-Orioles TV Money Dispute about to Explode
(24 - 7:39pm, Jul 31)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread July, 2014
(549 - 7:32pm, Jul 31)
Last: J. Sosa

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-31-2014
(19 - 7:30pm, Jul 31)
Last: Eric J can SABER all he wants to

NewsblogBrewers acquire outfielder Gerardo Parra from D-backs
(3 - 7:27pm, Jul 31)
Last: Gold Star - just Gold Star

NewsblogTigers To Acquire David Price
(59 - 7:25pm, Jul 31)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogMarlins acquire Jarred Cosart from Astros in six-player deal
(1 - 7:13pm, Jul 31)
Last: Joe Kehoskie

NewsblogJim Bowden Caught Stealing From Fake Twitter Account, Deletes Everything
(17 - 7:07pm, Jul 31)
Last: Joe Bivens, Minor Genius

NewsblogCardinals Acquire John Lackey
(89 - 7:03pm, Jul 31)
Last: greenback calls it soccer

NewsblogWhy the Mets Are Right to Save the New York State Pavilion
(16 - 7:03pm, Jul 31)
Last: Srul Itza

Page rendered in 0.8812 seconds
53 querie(s) executed