Originally Posted by mth123
A couple of points
Your 75% success rate is pretty high. Higher than I've seen quoted a lot of the time. Its a lot more realistic (but still a little low when Votto and Ludwick are coming up IMO). One thing these equations omit is the times picked-off. When a runner is picked-off going back to the base he occupies, it's not counted as an SB attempt or as a CS. Those outs are just as much a lost opportunity and are directly a result of the running game. You add those outs to the mix and the success rate over 75% is pretty difficult to maintain. Lower in the order, those steals help get the runner around the bases, where he otherwise wouldn't have, much more often than in front of the better hitters (because they will get him around without the steal a lot more often than weaker hitters would). From that perspective, the steal has more value and the out doesn't represent as big a lost opportunity lower in the order. The break-even rate would be lower and more doable. I get the percentages you are throwing out there, but if you do the math (all the math, including runs lost when Hamilton is out), the success rate (pick-offs included) in front of Votto and Ludwick needs to be about 80% to result in extra runs. I haven't done the same analysis in front of Cozart and Hanigan, but I'm guessing the success rate needed to result in extra runs would drop into the 60s. If I have time, I'll give it a try.
All that said, if Hamilton has the same OBPs as a big leaguer as he's shown in the minors, he should lead-off and not hit lower in the order. For me the OBP and not the steals are the reason to hit him in front of Votto and Ludwick.
I just grabbed 75% so I didn't get into a debate over the break even point which varies from year to year (so much for that). 75% is really the high end, but it's safe to say if he goes over 75% it's a plus. As I noted in an earlier post, the real number last year was 66% per fangraphs.