One of the most intriguing story lines in fantasy baseball entering 2014 is that of Billy Hamilton. The Cincinnati Reds elected to not re-sign Shin-Soo Choo this offseason, thrusting their starting center field job right into Hamilton’s lap. If you haven’t heard, Hamilton is really, really fast. How much fantasy value is going to come from his speed though? When in drafts should prospective fantasy owners pull the trigger on the Reds new leadoff hitter?
First, let me make this as clear as I possibly can: Billy Hamilton possesses out of this world speed. The speedster stole a staggering, 155 bases across two minor league levels in 2012, he stole 75 bases in AAA last season prior to getting called up in September and during his brief stint last season, he stole 13 bases in 14 attempts… in just 22 plate appearances.
I have Hamilton projected to score 81 runs, to go along with 37 RBI, two home runs, a .238 average and a whopping 88 steals. I have Everth Cabrera projected to steal 60 bases and the only other player I have projected to break 50 is Eric Young with 51. There is no player projected to be more valuable in any category than Hamilton is at steals. I have Hamilton ranked as the No. 2 shortstop entering 2014, behind only Troy Tulowitzki, as the 14th ranked outfielder, well ahead of Matt Kemp, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Hamilton and as the 49th overall hitter, ahead of Buster Posey and Ryan Zimmerman.
Hamilton gives whoever drafts him an immediate advantage, over their entire league, in the stolen base category and the fact that he’s eligible in multiple positions (one of them being shortstop) makes him even more valuable. I think Hamilton is likely worth a fourth or fifth round pick… how high would you be willing to draft this one dimensional superstar?