Sawchik: An interesting and bad suggestion for Billy Hamilton

From Travis Sawchik at FanGraphs on March 5, 2018:

There has always been some debate about where to bat Billy Hamilton in the lineup.

He has the world-class speed that managers traditionally prize out of a leadoff hitter. Hamilton, for example, was the fastest man in the game by some measures in 2016 and has trailed only Byron Buxton (30.2 feet/second) in Statcast’s “sprint speed” each of the last two seasons.

The problem, of course, is the rate at which he gets (or doesn’t get) on base. Hamilton recorded a .299 OBP last season, 11th worst amongst qualified hitters. His career mark is almost precisely the same (.298). In the modern era of lineup construction, avoiding outs is regarded as a greater asset for leadoff hitters than speed alone.

 While Hamilton has made the vast majority of his career plate appearances (1,651) at the top of the Cincinnati lineup, his inability to get on base regularly has prevented him from maximizing the value of his legs. And though he is penciled in as the club’s leadoff hitter again, there remains some debate about where he should hit.

But what if there was a way to better maximize Hamilton’s speed?

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Originally published: March 5, 2018. Last Updated: March 5, 2018.