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View Full Version : Two national guys chime in on Billy Hamilton today



dougdirt
08-23-2012, 02:49 PM
Frankie Piliere had this in his chat today (http://sbb.scout.com/2/1213775.html):

Mike:
Billy Hamilton is drawing a lot of walks this season, but with his entire lack of power and his questionable strikeout rate (18% per 100 PA's), is he going to be able to keep up a solid walk rate in the Majors without improving in one of those aspects since pitchers won't be worried about him taking them out of the park while also knowing he can be struck out?

Frankie Piliere:
It's a mild concern and I know some scouts that have brought it up. He's going to be incredibly exciting and unique we'll have to see how consistently he can drive the ball against big league pitching.

Jason Parks had this from his chat today: (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/chat/chat.php?chatId=957&nocache=1345742773#new)

ddufourlogger (Louisville, KY): Hey Professor! Tell me about what you see in Billy Hamilton. Besides the obvious! I see little reason for the Reds not to stick him in CF next spring (or this winter) and see if he can get it down defensively. He's got to move off of SS, yes? 2B is locked up for the Reds for awhile, and CF seems the best spot to get him in the lineup, especially if Drew Stubbs is what he is at this point...

Jason Parks: Changing positions isn't as easy as just penciling him into the lineup at the 8. Hamilton is a well above-average athlete, and I agree with you that his skill-set might be better suited in CF, but the process of transition isn't an overnight situation. It would take time to acclimate to the routes/angles/responsibilities of the position, and that would need to occur as the bat continues to develop. It's a lot to put on a young player. I'm still not sold that his bat is going to provide much at the highest level. If you want the best Hamilton possible, you keep him in the minors for at least another season (and possibly two) in order to properly develop the bat and make the necessary transition to the outfield. If you want a big result, the extra patience will be worth it.

OnBaseMachine
08-23-2012, 03:57 PM
Jerry Crasnick had a great article on Hamilton last week.


"He's strong enough to defend himself at the plate," said an American League scout, "and he can outquick the ball at times. His hands work just fine."

Hamilton also is smart enough to realize that every ball hit in the air can be a wasted opportunity. He puts the right swing on the ball to generate lots of line drives and ground balls.

"He's a real quick study," said Bill Bavasi, Cincinnati's vice president of player development. "His baseball IQ is pretty high. He knows who he is and what his path is to the big leagues."


http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8259517/cincinnati-reds-prospect-billy-hamilton-fast-track

dougdirt
08-23-2012, 03:59 PM
I can absolutely see both sides here. I have seen Hamilton on some good days where he stings several balls on a line into the gaps. I have also seen Hamilton flailing away at pitches with weak, defensive swings early in counts in what I saw as an attempt to merely make contact, no matter how weak.

He certainly doesn't have bat speed problems. It is there. His swing mechanics from the left side leave a lot to be desired, but the pieces are there to work with, which is good.

RedEye
08-23-2012, 04:25 PM
Jason Parks: Changing positions isn't as easy as just penciling him into the lineup at the 8. Hamilton is a well above-average athlete, and I agree with you that his skill-set might be better suited in CF, but the process of transition isn't an overnight situation. It would take time to acclimate to the routes/angles/responsibilities of the position, and that would need to occur as the bat continues to develop. It's a lot to put on a young player. I'm still not sold that his bat is going to provide much at the highest level. If you want the best Hamilton possible, you keep him in the minors for at least another season (and possibly two) in order to properly develop the bat and make the necessary transition to the outfield. If you want a big result, the extra patience will be worth it.

I'm just curious -- if this is true, what is it that Billy still has to learn in the minors that he can't learn in the majors? To me, it sounds like the big concern is whether his bat can work in The Show. But isn't that kind of a catch-22? After all, how are we going to know whether or not it works if he doesn't get a chance to hit major league pitching? And... related to that... wouldn't it therefore make sense to give him a September call-up this year just so that he can have that first cup of coffee -- and begin to understand just what it is he's up against?

JKam
08-23-2012, 04:46 PM
Would Vince Coleman be a comparable to Billy Hamilton? Or do you expect Hamilton to be better/worse than Coleman?

Coleman's career slash is .324/.345/.668. He once stole 107 bases and scored 94 runs with a slash of .301/.280/.581. In Coleman's career year where he stole 109 bases and scored 121 runs his slash was .363/.358/.721.

Even with an OPS below .700 Hamilton could be a useful player. If he's anywhere above .700, he's likely a game changer or a complete terror.

fearofpopvol1
08-23-2012, 05:14 PM
I'm just curious -- if this is true, what is it that Billy still has to learn in the minors that he can't learn in the majors? To me, it sounds like the big concern is whether his bat can work in The Show. But isn't that kind of a catch-22? After all, how are we going to know whether or not it works if he doesn't get a chance to hit major league pitching? And... related to that... wouldn't it therefore make sense to give him a September call-up this year just so that he can have that first cup of coffee -- and begin to understand just what it is he's up against?

I think defense mostly. He's not good enough at SS as of now and definitely not good enough to play CF.

Sea Ray
08-23-2012, 05:52 PM
Given his skill: blazing speed, I think it behooves the Reds not to leave him in the minors for too long. He's not likely to retain that skill in his 30s. He's going to age like an NFL tailback. In addition, I'd like to implore the Reds to encourage him to cut back on his stealing in the minors. Work on his success percentage and steal less than 50 next year at Louisville. I do understand that he needs time o learn the OF. I picture him as Deion Sanders in CF only with a better arm. Deion took questionable routes to get to balls but more often than not speed made up for it

Rojo
08-23-2012, 06:19 PM
Would Vince Coleman be a comparable to Billy Hamilton? Or do you expect Hamilton to be better/worse than Coleman?

Coleman's career slash is .324/.345/.668. He once stole 107 bases and scored 94 runs with a slash of .301/.280/.581. In Coleman's career year where he stole 109 bases and scored 121 runs his slash was .363/.358/.721.

Even with an OPS below .700 Hamilton could be a useful player. If he's anywhere above .700, he's likely a game changer or a complete terror.

Interesting point.

The standard sabremetric view is that stolen bases are largely no more than a nice add-on, given a high success rate. But are exceptions allowed for Coleman/Hamilton speed? Yes, a .310 OBP is too low for a 35sb player or even a 40sb or 50sb player. But a 110sb player?

A .301 OBP is too low, always. But, as you pointed out, Coleman scored 94 runs that year. Sure, Runs Scored is team dependent, but I checked, nobody else on that team scored more than 67.

Rojo
08-23-2012, 06:23 PM
Given his skill: blazing speed, I think it behooves the Reds not to leave him in the minors for too long.

That's my take as well. If they think he's got work to do to stick at shortstop, then move him to the OF, even leftfield. Unless they feel like he's going fill out and start driving more balls.

dfs
08-23-2012, 07:07 PM
I'm just curious -- if this is true, what is it that Billy still has to learn in the minors that he can't learn in the majors?

What to do with the glove where ever his final destination is?
His lefthanded swing can smooth out.

REDREAD
08-23-2012, 07:08 PM
Interesting point.

The standard sabremetric view is that stolen bases are largely no more than a nice add-on, given a high success rate. But are exceptions allowed for Coleman/Hamilton speed? Yes, a .310 OBP is too low for a 35sb player or even a 40sb or 50sb player. But a 110sb player?
.

I guess I always take that comment with a grain of salt.
Sure, it's better to have a 340 obp than a 310 obp. No one is arguing that.
But what's the impact? Over 600 plate appearances, that's getting on base 18 more times.. I've brought this up with Stubbs sometimes. Speed and power can compensate for a lower obp in Stubbs case (who I think has pretty much averaged 90 runs scored per season).. Billy obviously won't have Stubbs power, but the steals will put him in scoring position pretty often when he does reach base.

It's hard to quantify.. If Billy gets into scoring position X% more often than the average player (which causes him to score more frequently).. at some point, the speed makes up for lower OBP.. I can't really figure out what X% is.. Obviously caught stealings factor in also. But it seems that at some point, enough steals will offset getting OBP 18 fewer times in this example.

The standard argument about needing to be successful stealing 70% of the time is also flawed in my opinion. That's based on run expectancy numbers.
I have done the math at one time.. but the problem with that exercise is that the run expectancy for a guy at 1b also includes the benefit of stolen bases, bunts, productive outs and other "Smallball" activities which advance the runner to 2b. (It also includes the negative aspects like caught stealing).
That's a flaw when calculating the result using run expectancy, which is essentially a markov chain.. Maybe I am wrong here (someone please correct me).. I have not had the time to dig deeper into this.

Kc61
08-23-2012, 07:17 PM
Reds really need to figure out Hamilton's defensive position by next year. Good point made that you don't want to keep his speed in the minors too long, that speed won't last forever.

I'm assuming one last year in the minors in 2013, so let's figure out where he's going to play and get it over with.

chicoruiz
08-23-2012, 07:35 PM
Just a note: Everyone seems to take as a given that speed guys burn out early in their careers. I'm not sure that's historically true.

JKam
08-23-2012, 07:57 PM
The standard sabremetric view is that stolen bases are largely no more than a nice add-on, given a high success rate. But are exceptions allowed for Coleman/Hamilton speed? Yes, a .310 OBP is too low for a 35sb player or even a 40sb or 50sb player. But a 110sb player?

Has sabremetric view changed at all now that home runs are way down in recent years? Does a SB become more valuable with less HRs?

Rojo
08-23-2012, 08:15 PM
Has sabremetric view changed at all now that home runs are way down in recent years? Does a SB become more valuable with less HRs?

I think it's slow to catch up. I still see the magic 70% thrown around a lot. As SeaRay mentions this may need to change. There is no fixed benchmark. It changes as the game changes.

Brutus
08-23-2012, 08:56 PM
Just a note: Everyone seems to take as a given that speed guys burn out early in their careers. I'm not sure that's historically true.

It's been researched that historically speed peaks between 24-25, but not all speed guys automatically begin a decline at that juncture. Many continue for many years before slowing down.

dougdirt
08-23-2012, 09:10 PM
I think it's slow to catch up. I still see the magic 70% thrown around a lot. As SeaRay mentions this may need to change. There is no fixed benchmark. It changes as the game changes.

70% is wrong anyways, so I don't know who is throwing that around. It is closer to 74%.

In a lower run scoring environment, a steal would be more valuable, but a caught stealing would also be more detrimental. My guess? It is still pretty close to evening out in that 74% range.

Brutus
08-23-2012, 09:14 PM
70% is wrong anyways, so I don't know who is throwing that around. It is closer to 74%.

In a lower run scoring environment, a steal would be more valuable, but a caught stealing would also be more detrimental. My guess? It is still pretty close to evening out in that 74% range.

Tom Tango has said it's about 68% in a normal run environment (around 4.5 runs per game or so).

RED VAN HOT
08-23-2012, 09:30 PM
70% is wrong anyways, so I don't know who is throwing that around. It is closer to 74%.

In a lower run scoring environment, a steal would be more valuable, but a caught stealing would also be more detrimental. My guess? It is still pretty close to evening out in that 74% range.

Wouldn't a caught stealing carry a bigger penalty in high scoring environment? To take it to extremes, if every fifth batter hit a home run, then it would be foolish to attempt to steal. On the other hand, in a low scoring environment, small ball becomes more important and successful steals are relatively more rewarding.

dougdirt
08-23-2012, 09:34 PM
Wouldn't a caught stealing carry a bigger penalty in high scoring environment? To take it to extremes, if every fifth batter hit a home run, then it would be foolish to attempt to steal. On the other hand, in a low scoring environment, small ball becomes more important and successful steals are relatively more rewarding.

No. The higher the run scoring environment, the less valuable each run actually is. Where as the lower the run scoring environment, each run is worth more. Right now we generally talk about "10 runs = 1 win", but that really doesn't apply to all time. Just the current environment.

dougdirt
08-23-2012, 09:35 PM
Tom Tango has said it's about 68% in a normal run environment (around 4.5 runs per game or so).

You don't by chance have a link to that do you? I wouldn't mind reading all that goes into that.

Brutus
08-23-2012, 09:41 PM
You don't by chance have a link to that do you? I wouldn't mind reading all that goes into that.

I will try to find it this evening. I recently did a spring cleaning on my bookmarks and I can't seem to find it at first glance, but I was wanting to go back and read it myself so I'll see what I can find.

In the meantime, I did have this link saved that had it around 68.3% from 2007-2009 run environments, which I believe averaged out to about 4.5 runs. It has the 2010-current numbers around 72.7%.

http://calltothepen.com/2010/05/21/saber-slant-8-the-right-value-for-the-stolen-base/

I will definitely try to find the Tango link though because it was a pretty extensive article IIRC.

RED VAN HOT
08-23-2012, 10:03 PM
No. The higher the run scoring environment, the less valuable each run actually is. Where as the lower the run scoring environment, each run is worth more. Right now we generally talk about "10 runs = 1 win", but that really doesn't apply to all time. Just the current environment.

Don't want to drag this out, but I can't resist one more attempt. In a low scoring environment, I maintain that scoring a run is more difficult and relatively more important. When base hits are few, I have a better chance of scoring if I can get a man to second or third. The risk/reward tends to tilt more toward exploiting my speed and stealing a base. On the other hand, if xbase hits are more frequent, the advantage of risking a steal is lower, since there is a better chance of scoring from first.

My point here is simply to make a case that in the post steroids era, when more balls are staying in the park, Hamilton's game not simply for stealing, but also for stretching, tends to be more valuable than it would have been 20 years ago.

dougdirt
08-23-2012, 10:07 PM
I said that the run is more important. I just don't think the risk/reward changes much because that out costs you more as well when you get caught. Speed in a non-stolen base thing is entirely different.

RedsManRick
08-24-2012, 10:24 AM
Has sabremetric view changed at all now that home runs are way down in recent years? Does a SB become more valuable with less HRs?

With offense down, extra bases are certainly more valuable. However, base-runners themselves are more valuable as well, so making an out hurts more as well than it does in an era where a guy is more likely to come up and drive himself in.

REDREAD
08-24-2012, 11:41 AM
http://calltothepen.com/2010/05/21/saber-slant-8-the-right-value-for-the-stolen-base/
.

Again, I think this article is flawed, unless I am misunderstanding run expectancy:


With no outs and a runner on first in a five run/game environment, the average team is expected to score 0.950 runs. Moving the runner to second base on a steal yields a run expectancy of 1.192 runs, meaning that the change in run expectancy from that steal was 0.242 runs. The same move with two outs, a move often lauded because the runner is placed in scoring position for the current batter, only yields 0.09 runs on average. In total, in this run-scoring environment, the average stolen base was worth 0.175 runs. A worthwhile move if successful, but hardly worth making a fuss about teams emphasizing.


The run expectancy of .950 of a runner on first includes all the SB and small ball scenerios to move him to 2b.
Don't they get run expectancy by averaging the number of runs that actually scored in a given scenerio?
Example.. Stubbs leads off and singles. Steals 2b. Steals 3b. Scores on a sac fly.
He started the inning at 1b, so that run gets credited to the run expectancy of a runner on 1b, no outs.

I think in order to accurately calculate this, you'd have to average out "station to station" run expectancy with a runner at 1b.
Then calculate run expectancy when the runner is at 1b and attempts to steal 2nd.
Both these run expectancy numbers might be different than the values expressed in the article.. A runner that just stole 2nd might score more frequently than a slow runner that just got a double (or maybe not).

I just think the saber communities analysis to get this 68%-74% number is not complete. If they wish to make a bold statement such as "speed is overrated", as the author does, they need more precise data collection, not a sloppy, back of the envelope calculation.

Rojo
08-24-2012, 02:21 PM
In a lower run scoring environment, a steal would be more valuable, but a caught stealing would also be more detrimental. My guess? It is still pretty close to evening out in that 74% range.

The "scoring environment" is less important here than the components of scoring. Losing a baserunner may be more detrimental in a low scoring environment, but what if finding first base isn't a problem? i.e. you have tons of OBP but few XBH?

Having said that, I'm guessing the allowable CS% doesn't move that much, maybe between 65% and 75%.

dougdirt
08-24-2012, 03:20 PM
The "scoring environment" is less important here than the components of scoring. Loosing a baserunner may be more detrimental in a low scoring environment. But what if finding first base isn't a problem? i.e. you have tons of OBP but few XBH?

Having said that, I'm guessing the allowable CS% doesn't move that much, maybe between 65% and 75%.
Sure, the value of a steal for Team A might be different than for Team B. But I don't know of any studies that have gone through that kind of thing. Heck, I am sure a steal in Petco is more valuable than one in GABP because of the ballpark environment and how it alters run scoring. There are a lot of differing variables that could be at play.