2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Billy Hamilton

Herb Washington played 2 seasons in the major leagues.  He was the original one tool player, the only player ever signed strictly as a pinch runner.  He never had a plate appearance in the majors but scored 33 runs in 105 games played.  This was the crazy idea of Charlie Finley and Alvin Dark, and it has never been copied.

Billy Hamilton is considerably better at baseball than Herb Washington, and considerably more valuable to a baseball team, but not valuable enough to merit a regular season roster spot on a good team.  He has played 7 years in the major leagues as an above-average fielding outfielder and a career OPS+ of an atrocious 68.  But in 5 of his 7 seasons he has finished in the top 10 in steals.  He generated -0.2 WAR in his limited time with the Braves, with an OPS+ that soared to 81, and he did what a speedy guy is supposed to do in the playoffs: he stole a base and scored twice.

Dave Roberts’s stolen base in the 2004 seventh game playoff in which the Red Sox squeaked by the Yankees is the perfect example of why you want Billy Hamilton on your team when you have to win one game.  The fact that Dave Roberts then didn’t get in a single World Series game that year is why that sort of talent is a luxury.  There is no excuse in having him on a team that needs to, and expects to, win 95 games or more.  Everyone assumes his option will be bought out by the Braves and I think everyone is right. Godspeed, Billy Hamilton, Sprinter’s Speed.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

12 thoughts on “2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Billy Hamilton”

  1. If you could steal 1B, Billy would be a perennial all-star.

    Being you’ve got to hit your way on though, poor Billy is in a bind.

    If the Braves could/do trade Ender though, I wouldn’t mind seeing Billy back for a million bucks or so.

  2. @41 from prior thread. MLBTR has Calhoun at 1/6 – Markakis money. 30+HRs and enough speed to play 15 innings in CF is a big upgrade over Kakes at this point (and four years younger).

  3. @2 I agree on Calhoun’s bat. I’d rather have him than Kakes. He’s still plenty attainable.

    Him in CF though?… I don’t know. Are you thinking like “in case of emergency, break glass” type of deal, or regular reps? I could see the former, but not the latter. CF is a different animal.

  4. Calhoun at 6M is a no-brainer. If he had any ability to play center though, the Halos would have picked up their option at $14M.

  5. Even if the 15 HR guy shows up, with his defense Calhoun is a good platoon player in the corners. We should want that at the price indicated.

  6. I just can’t see Donaldson back next year. The Braves aren’t going to get into a bidding war and someone will overpay. I can’t see the Braves offering more than 3/$70MM.

  7. @6 Exactly my point. Plus it makes sense then to dangle Ender as trade bait. A Pache/Calhoun platoon in CF (maybe with Calhoun in LF and Acuna in CF) would be fine. Calhoun would be the backup CF to Acuna if Pache goes back to AAA and Ender is traded. Anyway, that makes more sense if the Braves have Calhoun more than if the Braves have Joyce.

  8. @7 I hope you’re wrong.

    If the Braves won’t go more than 3/70, we may as well toss out the idea of our team ever being heavy World Series favorites. They’ll be good with the young core. If they won’t spend to augment it though, you’re just hoping lady luck jumps on your bandwagon one year. For a contender, that just shouldn’t be an extremely painful financial cost.

    It does worry me a bit that the Phillies are now rumoured to be in on him. If the choice is Atlanta or Texas, you’ve got to figure winning would have some value to an older player. You toss Philly in there though, and they may spend more, with the offer of the same opportunity.

  9. @8 I’d be onboard with Calhoun. Man, if they wouldn’t have wasted money and a roster spot on Kakes, he’d be a great platoon with Duvall in LF. Duvall/Calhoun would also be a credible threat hitting 5th, if you had to. It’s a ton better than potentially hitting Kakes 5th.

    It’s not even that I don’t like Kakes or feel he doesn’t have any value. If the team had power 3-5, and Kakes is hitting 7th or 8th, cool. Hitting him 5th though is something you do when you just don’t care if you lose 90-100 games.

  10. Billy Hamilton is not one of the MLBTR top 50 FAs. He’s also not one of the 10 honorable mentions. The 50th-ranked FA is projected to get a one-year, $3M deal. I would think that Hamilton would be available for about a $1M deal if they wanted him back. Depending on roster construction, that’s not a terrible idea.

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