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Monday, May 05, 2014

Spencer: Could Gordon or Hamilton swipe 100 bags?

And steal Doris Kappelhoff’s heart in the process!?

Bug-eyed scouts double-check their stopwatches and label Billy Hamilton the fastest player to wear a baseball uniform since Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson were two-sport wonders. There are few limits to what the Reds’ rookie center fielder might do on the basepaths.

Dee Gordon, who could make it a photo finish in a sprint with Hamilton, has gone relatively unnoticed—until now. One month into the season, it is the Dodgers’ second baseman, not Hamilton, stealing bases at a clip that could land him in the company of the all-time elite.

With 19 thefts, Gordon has surged ahead of Hamilton, with 11 steals, in the National League race. Gordon has a success rate of 86.4 percent compared to Hamilton’s 68.8.

...Reds manager Bryan Price compares Hamilton’s blinding speed with the sensation of watching teammate Aroldis Chapman consistently surpass 100 mph on the radar gun.

“I’m sure with Billy, you’re never going to underappreciate his speed or take it for granted,” Price said. “We get to see it every day—every play at first base, every bunt, every ground ball, it’s a bang-bang. Every base hit to center field is a possible double, based on how aggressively the center fielder goes after the ball. It’s really exciting to watch.”

Washington, a baseball lifer since 1971 as a player, coach and manager, believes in the running game as few do, referring to it as “winning baseball.”

Though he doesn’t discount the possibility of Gordon or Hamilton reaching 100 steals, Washington sees obstacles that didn’t necessarily prevent Wills, Brock, Henderson, Tim Raines (90 steals in 1983) and Coleman from running wild in previous eras.

“One hundred is a lot of steals,” Washington said. “You’ve got start getting three and four in a game. Rickey was getting four or five in a game. He’d get on base and steal second and third, just like that.

“It’s not about being fast. It’s about technique and on-base percentage, getting on base. It’s about having the aggressiveness to do it and being successful. It’s about reading pitchers and reading counts, going on offspeed pitches. A lot goes into it, little baseball things that a lot of people don’t see.”

Repoz Posted: May 05, 2014 at 05:11 PM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Davo Dozier Posted: May 05, 2014 at 05:21 PM (#4700632)
Well, let's be boring.

Dee Gordon has 19 steals in the Dodgers' 32 games this year. That puts him on pace for 96 over a full season.

Those 19 steals he has this year? That's with him hitting .353! He's not gonna do that all year!

So, yeah. This would be a more attainable goal if he'd gotten off to a super-insane start--like, if he already had 30 steals.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 05, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4700634)
Josh Hamilton - no way. Alex Gordon - anything is possible.
   3. jacjacatk Posted: May 05, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4700660)
You’ve got start getting three and four in a game. Rickey was getting four or five in a game


Rickey stole 5 bases in a game once, 4 just 18 times, and 3 52 times. In the last 100 years there have only been 19 times where someone has stolen 5 bases (plus 3 times where they swiped 6), and 175 where they stole 4.

Of course, only 4 people have stolen 100 in a season, and only two of them did it more than once. Gordon's never come particularly close to getting 100 at any level, in spite of solidly above average OBPs combined with equally mediocre ISOs, so I'd be amazed if ever got really close. Hamilton's done it twice in MiLB, though he needed decidedly non-Coleman levels of OBP to get there, so I'm not liking his chances all that much either given his relative inability to get on base.
   4. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: May 05, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4700662)
The player would be a Billy Burns-type (or Old Billy Hamilton type): both really fast and on base a ton.
I think Billy Burns would be a candidate (.417 OBP and 137/18 stealing in 236 minor league games) if the A's had room in the OF, but I don't know who I'd want him to replace right now.
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 05, 2014 at 06:07 PM (#4700672)
Billy Hamilton has a 67 OPS+ to essentially match his 69% steal percentage.

He's not getting it done. Have the local writers in Cinci bothered to mention that?
   6. bfan Posted: May 05, 2014 at 06:15 PM (#4700675)
He's not getting it done. Have the local writers in Cinci bothered to mention that?


He is benefitting from 2 things: the halo effect (his one skill [speed] is so bright that it blinds everyone to all of the flaws that go with that shiny halo); and the popular press made a dramatic shift to love speed and defense over power and hitting about 4 years ago (Carl Crawford as SI's projected MVP, his first year in Boston; the awe over Seattle's incredible outfield that could be 3 quarters of a winning 4 by 100 relay team, but could not hit their way out of a wet paper bag).
   7. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 05, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4700721)
Hamilton is better than Jeter this year.

Ok, faint praise. But he's not getting caught 33% this season, and will likely hit better.. With a 80 OPS+, good defense and a 80%+ steal percentage he'll be a valuable player.

He shouldn't be hitting leadoff though.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: May 05, 2014 at 09:17 PM (#4700787)
Career

DG: 793 PA, 273/315/335, 85/22 steals, -1 dWAR, .6 WAR
BH: 124 PA, 265/306/354, 24/6 steals, 0 dWAR, .5 WAR
TC: 452 PA, 249/299/291, 66/8 steals, 1 dWAR, 2 WAR

Hamilton is roughly on a Tony Campana pace so far although attempting steals (and getting caught) at a higher rate. Of course Campana has had a lot of PR opportunities but Hamilton had a ton last year so is probably still ahead on a career rate basis. Campana has a lot of defensive rep games too which Hamilton doesn't.

Gordon loses about 1.4 WAR due to a horrific half-season of SS defense -- they have him as pretty average at 2B so he may be closer to those two than the WAR/PA rate suggests.
   9. thetailor Posted: May 06, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4701517)
I'm not convinced that Hamilton is a major league hitter, but in all fairness, he's been hitting quite well since his season opening oh-fer.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: May 06, 2014 at 06:22 PM (#4701579)
No he hasn't. Since his 0-fer he's hit 280/310/378. That's just a smidgen better than his career and is about an 87 OPS+. That might be enough to make him an average offensive player with his speed but it's not hitting well much less "quite well." The bright spot is just 13 Ks in 89 PAs which is better than what he'd been doing.

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