The patterned, double-knit swish of left and right. A biological instrument's practiced breath hissing through the pulpy teeth of the deterministic spurwheels that drive it. Cleats scarring grooves into the infield in a roar of earth, belching dirt into the waxing magnitude apart from its vicinity.
Those are the subtly sophisticated sounds of a typical stolen base.
Here's what it sounds like when Billy Hamilton does it:
Everyone who has heard of him knows he's fast. He's going to get away with stealing -- often. But what effect will those extra bases have on his offensive value?
Oliver projections -- in which every player is charted at 600 PA -- have him stealing 64 in 74 tries (which is much closer to his minor league success rate of about 82 percent). However, in their forecast, Hamilton struggles more with the bat (.233/.278/.315).
Finally, Hamilton's favorite projections: ZiPS. They have him hitting .264/.319/.362 with 68 SB in 83 attempts.
So, the three major projection systems have his OPS at .643, .593, and .681 respectively.
Not so good.
But what about the 60+ stolen bases?!?
Good point, Fantasy champ. All those stolen bases will be nice ... when he gets on base, but it doesn't look like anyone is especially optimistic about his skill set in that department.
But he's gonna lead the league in steals!!!
Whatever you say ... dick.
All jokes aside, Hamilton's mad dashes for second are going to be some of the most exciting plays in baseball next season. It's something to look forward to as we wade through the cesspool of controversy this offseason has become.
The Reds can look forward to it too, because his speed might end up being more valuable to them that it will be at the top of a leaderboard.
In the batter's box, the outlook is grim -- at least on the surface. Well, it's pretty harsh no matter him many layers you peel away -- but it's not as bad as it looks. A .600 OPS with 60 stolen bases is far different from a run-of-the-mill Jeff Francoeur-style .600 OPS. For example, if you simply added stolen bases to the total bases used in a stat like slugging percentage, Hamilton's OPS starts to look more like Brandon Phillips and less like Munenori Kawasaki. Obviously, that's a flawed and exceedingly simplistic way to compare him. However, a quick glance at the projections might lead you to an equally mistaken assumption about what he brings to the table offensively.
Defensively, it's hard to quantify exactly how well he will replace Shin-Soo Choo, but he'll almost certainly be an improvement.
Choo's range in center last season left something to be desired. His advanced fielding metrics were the worst among center fielders with at least 900 innings at the position last season -- by a lot. Hamilton can probably post better UZR/150 and DRS numbers than Choo, but some people are pretty big squares when it comes to the revolution of sabermetrics.
He can't come close to replacing Choo if he posts on OBP of around .300 like the projections suggest, but with his contributions on the base paths and in the outfield, the drop off might not be as drastic as his projected offensive numbers insinuate.
We all know Billy Hamilton is really, really fast, but that the value of that speed isn't always easy to gauge with traditional stats.
Of course, you could always swat your way through the patchouli-cloud of advanced metrics that consider things like baserunning ...
Or you could just use a stopwatch.
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