October 31, 2014

So Much Theft He Should Be Arrested

May 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

This year Yahoo! leagues have added a new NA spot to their rosters. Much like adding a player on the DL, fantasy owners can pick up Minor Leaguers and set them aside, making zero impact on their roster size. Up until this season, if you wanted to stash a top prospect he had to take up a spot on your active roster but not any more! Just because the space is available doesn’t mean you NEED to have somebody there but if you’re in a keeper league or just very weak at one position, it’s worth it to stash the next best thing on your roster.

My rotisserie league is very competitive. Ten teams, mixed leagues, FAAB waivers, games played and innings pitched limits and the option to keep 3-10 players each offseason. The smaller amount of turnover plus the addition of the NA space prompted my competitors to put together a nice run of Minor League picks in the last two rounds of the draft. Having the very last pick, I was left without many options for top prospects but the guy I got could help me win a title with an expertise in just one statistic. That man’s name is Billy Hamilton.

Hamilton was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 and assigned to the Gulf Coast League. He played 2010 in the Pioneer League with the Reds affiliate in Billings, MT where he started to hit, and more importantly, run. His average jumped over 100 points to .318 and he stole 48 bases in 69 games. In 2011 he played a full baseball season, 135 games for Single-A Dayton and wreaked havoc on the bases. His 103 swipes in 135 games was impressive on its own but when 2012 rolled around, Hamilton’s wheels kicked into a gear unknown even to Vince Coleman or Ricky Henderson.

His season began at Single-A (Advanced) Bakersfield where he topped his 2011 stolen base total in just 82 games. For the statheads in the room, he went from .76 SB per game to an unheard of 1.26, earning him a well-deserved promotion to AA-Pensacola. For those like me who are curious, a 1.26 SB/game rate in the Majors would add up to 204 on the season. While Hamilton wouldn’t keep up that blazing pace in AA, he would still steal just over one base per game (51 in 50) for a total of 155, crushing Vince Coleman’s baseball record of 145, set with the Cardinals’ Single-A club in 1983.

So what do all these Minor League numbers have to do with Fantasy Baseball in 2013? To answer that we’ll go back in time again to 2012 and the final stats of my aforementioned roto league. Five of the ten teams finished with over 120 SBs on the season, only one of them topped Hamilton’s 155. Mike Trout, the ’12 MLB leader with 49 was one of only six players to top 40. Not since Henderson has one player been head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to running the bases and that is why you should use your NA spot on Billy Hamilton. Even this season, at AAA-Louisville, Hamilton has swiped 15 bases, four more than MLB leader Jacoby Ellsbury and in 25 less ABs.

Despite his average pushing the Mendoza line, the Reds would be silly not to call him up before midseason, even if it’s to be a pinch runner. Though he was drafted as a shortstop, he’s been switch hitting and playing centerfield in the Minors to increase his chances of making the big club. The Reds have Zack Cozart at short and not the strongest outfield so a call-up could come soon and when it does, get ready for Billymania in Cincinnati and on your fantasy roster.

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