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Billy Hamilton’s 100-steal season may not be a great omen

Sep 12, 2011, 6:28 PM EDT

Billy Hamilton - Bowman

After hitting .318/.383/.456 with 48 steals in 69 games in the Pioneer League in 2010, the Reds’ Billy Hamilton was rated as one of the game’s best shortstop prospects entering the year.  Playing in a full-season league for the first time, his bat didn’t quite live up to the hype, as he hit a modest .278/.340/.360 as a 20-year-old in the Midwest League.  However, he did steal 103 bases in 123 attempts.

Baseball America’s Jim Callis went back and tried to find all of the 100-steal seasons in minor league history.  From what he was able to judge, it had been done 21 times by 20 players.  The top two seasons were both from 1983: Vince Coleman had 145 for low Single-A Macon and Donell Nixon had 144 for high-A Bakersfield.  Coleman went on to steal 101 bases the next year before reaching the majors in 1985.

The list as a whole, though, is extremely unimpressive.  Lenny Dykstra, who stole 105 bases for Single-A Lynchburg in 1983, was the only one of the 20 players to turn into a legitimate All-Star.  Coleman and Otis Nixon were the only other long-term regulars, though Alan Wiggins might have been one too if not for drugs.

The only two players to join the list in the last 20 years were Cards prospects Esix Snead and Chris Morris and neither of them were factors in the majors.

So, the 100 steals, while a nice milestone, isn’t exactly a great predictor of future success.  With his tools, though, Hamilton may well buck those odds.  For what it’s worth, he did get quite a bit better as the year went on, hitting .318/.382/.387 in 69 games after the All-Star break.

  1. pkers - Sep 12, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    Maybe he just needs to concentrate on playing 69 games at a time?

  2. schlom - Sep 12, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Vince Coleman’s 1983 season was insane: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=colema002vin

    He had 176 steal attempts (145 steals, 31 CS) with 221 times reached base (156 hits, 56 walks, 9 HBP) plus the times reached on outs and errors. He must have tried to steal basically every time there was an open base. He also only had 15 extra base hits that season (8 2B, 7 3B) so he must have had a ton of infield hits. He hit 350/431/399 that season in Low A and then the Cardinals jumped him up to Triple A the next year. No wonder he never developed any plate discipline – he was totally rushed.

  3. sportsdrenched.com - Sep 13, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    This article only re-enforces my thought that stolen bases are over rated.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:49 AM

      Look at the list of guys who hit 50 or more home runs in the minors and see how many of them the majors.

      Are home runs overrated?

      Everything has to be taken in context.

  4. metalhead65 - Sep 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    so you are not impressed by his stats,did you bother to see the improvement in them after a horrible start/he put up pretty good numbers from May on if you bothered to check.the only way this is not good for the reds is if baker is still managing when he makes it to the bigs.

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