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April 30, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Billy Hamilton is Very Fast

by Sam Miller

Since I watched Peter Bourjos hit a triple about a year ago, watching extremely fast baseball players run extremely fast has been my favorite part of baseball. Then this morning I read Kevin Goldstein's Ten Pack, which included this about Billy Hamilton:

Hamilton has been hot all year, but he kicked it up a notch over the past week, going 13-for-28 with 15 stolen bases in his last seven games. That's not a typo: Fifteen.  

And now I think I like reading about fast players even more than watching fast players. I just went through Billy Hamilton's game logs for 2012, and I'm a little shaky. Really. Got a little sweat, got a little short breathing. The 29 stolen bases in 23 games are just the beginning. 

Billy Hamilton has reached on eight infield singles. He has been thrown out by infielders 14 times. When Billy Hamilton hits the ball on the ground to an infielder, and the infielder fields the ball cleanly, Billy Hamilton is hitting .364.* 

He also reached on an error. So when Billy Hamilton hits the ball at an infielder, he reaches nearly 40 percent of the time.

Billy Hamilton has also reached on a catcher's throwing error on a third strike. He has also advanced on a catcher's throwing error, and on a pitcher's errant pickoff attempt. He has scored on a fielder's choice when the catcher dropped a throw home. 

Billy Hamilton has advanced seven bases on wild pitches. 

Pitchers have committed three balks while Billy Hamilton was on base. 

Billy Hamilton has scored from third when the catcher threw to first to complete another batter's strikeout. 

And Billy Hamilton scored the walk-off run on April 20 on a sacrific fly. To the second baseman. 

Game logs can't really tell me whether Billy Hamilton's speed caused all, most, or just some of these things. But there are just so many of these things. 

*If you remove bunts and bunt attempts, it is probably more like .333, but the game log descriptions aren't always super clear on bunts vs. non-bunts.

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

12 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Hard infield liner, still nearly beats it out

Apr 30, 2012 10:40 AM
 
BillJohnson

"Pitchers have committed three balks while Billy Hamilton was on base." Promising, very promising. However, he still has a ways to go before getting into Vince Coleman territory. If I remember my trivia correctly, there was one point during, I think, the 1987 season when more than one out of six balks (15 out of 89 is the fraction I remember) called in the National League was with Coleman on base.

Of course, stealing bases and annoying pitchers was about all Coleman was good for. Hamilton has the chance to be a lot better than that. I'm with you, Sam: this guy has the chance to be enormous fun to watch.

Apr 30, 2012 10:44 AM
rating: 0
 
Rusty Pecker

#wreakshavoc

Apr 30, 2012 10:58 AM
rating: 0
 
Lou Doench

But where are we going to play the guy? We're locked into the Brandon Phillips experience for the next 6 years, and it certainly looks like Zach Cozart is gonna be a very good player at short. Does he have the arm for 3rd? Can he play CF? Will his bat carry left?

Apr 30, 2012 12:25 PM
rating: 2
 
Jivas
(649)

I'm a Cubs fan, so I'll leave this here:

#FirstDivisionProblems

Apr 30, 2012 12:53 PM
rating: 2
 
Chomsky
(103)

Kevin Goldstein has suggested Hamilton will end up in CF.

Apr 30, 2012 13:19 PM
rating: 2
 
Wrigleyviller
(883)

At which point he will change his name to Tony Campana.

May 01, 2012 14:09 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member King Kaufman
BP staff

I once saw a guy in Triple-A who was electrifyingly fast. I was stunned. I actually, literally felt like I was watching CGI. As in: That can't be real how fast that guy just ran to first base. I've never seen anything like it. The only thing I can compare it to is watching a drag race live, where those things move across your field of vision faster than you ever see anything else on earth move from that close up. It doesn't look real.

You know that player as Hall of Famer Corey Patterson.

Apr 30, 2012 19:09 PM
 
SirVLCIV

Let's all be thankful that Billy Hamilton is not a Cubs' prospect.

May 01, 2012 10:05 AM
rating: 0
 
Lou Doench

Hehe, I get the comparison, but it falls apart based on the immensity of Hamiltons achievements. Corey Patterson stole 114 bases in 9 minor league seasons. Billy Hamilton did that in 2.

May 01, 2012 13:29 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member King Kaufman
BP staff

I wasn't comparing Hamilton to Patterson. Just telling the story of the fastest guy I ever saw. If there's a lesson to be learned from the fact of Patterson never becoming anything, it's that I stink as a scout, 'cause I was really impressed.

May 04, 2012 18:17 PM
 
Schere

And if Corey Patterson hadn't any power and learned to hit the ball on the ground, who knows what would have become of him. He thought he was Willie Mays Hayes.

May 01, 2012 15:08 PM
rating: 3
 
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