Billy Hamilton has been up with the Cincinnati Reds for just over three weeks at this point. He has amassed a grand total of 16 plate appearances, though he has been used quite a bit as a pinch runner over these three weeks. Still, three weeks. 16 plate appearances.

In that small amount of time everyone and their grandmother has been able to see the damage that he has been able to do on the bases. 12 steals without being caught. He has scored 9 runs. There hasn’t been a base runner like Hamilton in the Major Leagues in quite a long time.

How valuable is the most valuable base runner over the Major Leagues in the past 5 seasons? In 2011 Michael Bourn added 13.2 runs according to Fangraphs. Only 7 players in the last five years have posted 10 runs or better on the bases and only Michael Bourn has done it twice. As I write this, Fangraphs has not updated their baserunning stats to include Sunday, where Hamilton scored twice and stole a base. Even without that update, Hamilton already ranks 2nd on the Reds in runs added via baserunning with 2.3 runs (behind only Todd Frazier at 2.6 runs).

Since Fangraphs hasn’t updated at the time of this writing, I am only looking at the 12 times Hamilton had been on base coming into Sunday. Some really quick math suggests Hamilton has added 0.19 runs each time he has reached base. Small sample size caveat aside, to extrapolate that to a full season of reaching base 200 times would add an incredible 38 runs on the bases, which would be nearly three times more than anyone has added in the last 5 years on the bases. Going back to 1970, the best value added on the bases was by Vince Coleman in 1986 with 15.7 runs added.

Let’s re-evaluate the base running value added so far for Hamilton though. He has yet to be caught stealing, and contrary to popular belief, he will be caught (he was caught in the minor leagues and pitchers/catchers are better on the whole up here at controlling the running game) and when that does happen his base running numbers will be effected. I went back to 1970 and ran the numbers for everyone with 300 plate appearances. While Vince Coleman in 1986 had the highest total, he finished second in value added on the bases per time he reached base. Rajai Davis came out on top, by a very significant margin at .087 runs added per time on base. So far, Hamilton has obliterated that mark. If we were to cut his current mark in half, we would be talking about him still adding .095 runs per time on base, which over the course of a full season is still going to add up to 19 runs added.

A league average player, in terms of WAR, provides 20 runs a season over replacement. If the numbers above are what we are expecting for Hamilton his base running alone, without any defense or any batting value added he is nearly providing enough to be an average player simply by what he brings on the bases.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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