I’m not actually a particular fan of Hamilton. In fact, I’ve generally been suspicious of the excitement he’s produced — at least in such cases where that excitement has led to considerable optimism concerning his future as a major leaguer. Running the numbers like this, however, it does seem as though posting a two-win season would be entirely possible.
Speed in baseball is excitement, if he can hit and field at an average rate he is at least worth watching.
Comment by Hurtlockertwo — November 7, 2012 @ 5:06 pm
Isn’t there an argument to be made that your ignored factor: infield hits & drag bunts (as well as infield ROE, DP’s turned into FC, and 2B’s turned into 3B’s or 2B + E) is perhaps the most valuable (in terms of wins or runs) component of speed?
Certainly Ichiro is unique, and his past production was as much a factor of his specific batting approach and talent as his speed, but his unique speed and time-to-first played a huge role in his ability to produce with that approach. Similarly, looking at profiles of players such as Ricky H, we see a unique ROE profile that is almost certainly an effect of his speed.
A single IF out turned into an E or IF hit with the runner is worth 0.79 runs on avg (from tango). So 10 additional outs turned into non-outs per season is worth almost 8 runs. Is 10 a lot? Probably. But is 5 too little? I really don’t know.
The baserunning contribution to speed value isn’t independent of batting ability though. Proficiency at getting on base will affect his ability to steal or advance extra bases in either a positive or negative way.
Elite speed also has benefits that cannot be directly measured by any means. If an elite speedster is on base, especially first base, he can disrupt a pitcher’s focus and require numerous throws to first. Elite speed puts extra pressure on the defense, possibly leading to more fielding errors. An elite speedster can excite his team and the home crowd as well as demoralize the opponents and their fans. That is why a few select players are said to have “game changing” speed. Obviously Hamilton has that kind of game changing speed… it is just a matter of how fully he can utilize his gift. I certainly hope he reaches his full potential because it would be a blast to see him play and it would be great for fans of the game.
I wanted to point this out as well, that in addition to defense and baserunning, elite speed can at least partially substitute for hitting ability. You just have to be a good bunter, make contact, and hit the ball on the ground.
agreed, speed is excitement.. whereas power is Oooh, Aaahhh.. a nice mix of them on a team should keep fans in the stadiums, but.. the only the front edge of the seat will be used due to the whole thing.
Well speed is one thing but skill and defense another.. SF Giants had a studd named Grego Blanco who showed speed and defense in the World Series robbing Det superstars of crucial hits. Speed is one thing but using it another
Carson acknowledged what you said in your comment. His purpose was to show some of the potential impacet of Hamilton’s speed and how it could help make him at least an average MLB player, which he did quite effectively.
By no means did he make any predictions or estimates of what Hamilton will accomplish.
I would also point out that even if his other skills aren’t sufficient, he could (I don’t say will) have a major league career as a pinch-runner or perhaps even as a pinch-bunter.
I think this is underselling Hamilton. His speed “upside” of 2-2.5 implies he can only be among the middle of each group of 10. But if scouting reports and minor league numbers are to be believed, his upside is to be #1 by a wide margin. I think the excitement with Hamilton is not that he’s super fast. It’s that he’s faster than anyone we’ve ever seen. I don’t think the numbers calculated above really represent his “upside”.