August 17, 2012
The Value of Billy Hamilton
One week ago, in a game against the Angels, Chone Figgins pinch-ran. Ten years ago, in a game with the Angels, Chone Figgins also pinch-ran, in his major-league debut, scoring the winning run on a squeeze bunt. Things are always coming full circle, except I guess for Chone Figgins in the most literal sense, because even if he comes around to score after pinch-running he will have completed only 270 degrees.
Wait, come back! This is not a piece about Chone Figgins or geometry. It’s about Billy Hamilton, I promise. Here, watch a video of Billy Hamilton:
The Angels brought Figgins up in August 2002, used him almost exclusively as a pinch-runner, then put him on the postseason roster, where he was used exclusively as a pinch-runner. It led to good things, such as the tying run in the Angels’ Game 6 comeback against the Giants. As Mike Scioscia reminisced years later,
Jeremy was Jeremy Moore, another fleet pair of feet who spent a September pinch-running for the Angels. In a world with 12- and 13-man bullpens, it’s hard to carry a player who does nothing but run, but that rule doesn’t apply to September. Depending on the philosophy of the manager, it might also not apply to October.