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Billy Hamilton and His Undiscovered Value

We all know Billy Hamilton’s hitting stinks. In fact, since debuting in 2013, Hamilton’s wRC+ of 68 ranks as the 14th-worst among active, qualified hitters. His pre-2019 All-Star Break slash-line of .217/.284/.271 has done nothing more than hurt his cause. All told, since the start of his career, Hamilton has contributed a whopping -58.3 runs offensively.

Notably, however, among all of the cellar-dwelling hitters at the bottom of the offensive table, Hamilton’s 10.3 fWAR since 2013 ranks as the highest among the 75 lowest in wRC+. His 62.2 defensive runs contributed above average, in addition to his absurd 58.7 BsR, provides pretty much the entirety of Hamilton’s value.

To optimize Hamilton’s positive output, it would then make sense to limit his time hitting while simultaneously maximizing his baserunning and fielding opportunities. So here’s my proposal:

Given his weak career on-base numbers, when starting, Hamilton reaches base approximately once per game. Given this, if the Royals were to pinch-run Billy once every nine innings for a hypothetical average-running outfield replacement, Hamilton would contribute close to the same BsR as he does in a normal season, about 10.0.* This alone would be good for almost an entire WAR. Read the rest of this entry »