Billy Hamilton
Billy Hamilton
28-Year-Old OutfielderOF
Kansas City Royals
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Last season was a poor one on the whole for pure stolen-base artists, highlighted by disappointing seasons from Hamilton and Dee Gordon. When you pay full price for someone like Hamilton, you need him to get 50-plus steals to be worth the cost, as he's already going to cost you standings points in homers and RBI, and likely won't help you in batting average. When he hits just .236 and steals 34 bags, it's an unmitigated disaster for your team. Hamilton dropped to the bottom of the order early in the season and ended up there for 111 games, as opposed to just 31 games in the leadoff spot. After being non-tendered by the Reds, Hamilton signed with the Royals -- a perfect destination for someone who otherwise might have been ticketed for a bench role. He should have regular playing time and the green light to run. While there's little reason to think he will suddenly start hitting, he could find himself leading off with Ned Yost pulling the strings. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract with the Royals in December of 2018. Contract includes $7.5 million mutual option for 2020.
Hitting, running well in spring
OFKansas City Royals
March 20, 2019
Hamilton has gone 14-for-42 at the plate (.333 average) in 16 Cactus League games and has gone 4-for-4 on stolen-base attempts.
Putting the bat on the ball has never been much of an issue for Hamilton, but making quality contact and reaching base at an acceptable clip have been bigger challenges for the speed maven since he broke into the big leagues in 2013. After the Reds pulled the plug on Hamilton over the winter, the Royals inked him to a one-year deal in December, presumably with the plan to install him as their everyday center fielder. Hamilton still looks likely to break camp as a member of the Opening Day lineup, though the Royals' spring lineups suggests he'll likely be ticketed for the ninth spot in the order. The impact hitting at the bottom of the lineup will likely have on his number of plate appearances could hurt Hamilton's chances of re-emerging as 50-steal threat, but he should be in good position to at least reach last season's mark of 34.
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Batting Stats
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2016
Since 2016vs Left .571 454 58 5 31 34 .217 .259 .311
Since 2016vs Right .667 1195 170 6 53 117 .259 .323 .344
2018vs Left .605 157 19 2 14 14 .211 .274 .331
2018vs Right .635 399 55 2 15 20 .246 .309 .326
2017vs Left .537 174 18 1 11 8 .219 .241 .296
2017vs Right .673 459 67 3 27 51 .259 .322 .351
2016vs Left .576 123 21 2 6 12 .221 .267 .310
2016vs Right .696 337 48 1 11 46 .275 .340 .356
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2016
OPS at Home
OPS at Home
OPS at Home
OPS at Home
Since 2016Home .718 802 126 9 48 70 .273 .329 .388
Since 2016Away .566 847 102 2 36 81 .223 .282 .284
2018Home .724 270 37 4 19 9 .261 .326 .398
2018Away .536 286 37 0 10 25 .213 .274 .262
2017Home .715 316 49 3 22 31 .275 .319 .395
2017Away .554 317 36 1 16 28 .220 .279 .275
2016Home .713 216 40 2 7 30 .284 .347 .366
2016Away .619 244 29 1 10 28 .240 .297 .323
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Stat Review
How does Billy Hamilton compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
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Defensive Stats
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Royals Depth Chart
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Last year Hamilton gave back most of the small gains he made at the plate in 2016. After hitting .260 in 2016, that mark dropped back to .247 in 2017, his walk rate dropped from 7.8 percent to 7.0 percent, and he slugged a mere .335, down from .345 the previous year. He still is a major contributor in stolen bases, notching 59 last season while spending all but four games in the leadoff spot. With Jesse Winker knocking on the door, there's a chance that the Reds might start playing Hamilton less frequently, moving him down in the order or maybe even trading him to another organization. Should any of these options come into play, his stolen-base opportunities will decline, stripping Hamilton of his one true offensive contribution. If you draft Hamilton, you may not get the full complement of bags that you expected, all while getting substandard production in the other four categories.
Hamilton pushed his OBP to a career-best .321 last season -- a 47-point jump from 2015 -- and that improvement was fueled by his second straight season with an increased walk rate (7.8 percent). He also maintained his improved efficiency as a basestealer, going 58-for-66 on the heels of his 57-for-65 mark in 2015. Finally, Hamilton hit the ball on the ground more frequently last season (47.7 percent groundball rate), which allowed him to use his speed to push his batting average to a career-high .260. Health is a major issue for Hamilton, as he returned from offseason shoulder surgery to begin 2016, and proceeded to lose time due to a concussion, thumb contusion, minor knee injury and an oblique injury that eventually shut him down for good. Hamilton declared himself to be healthy in December, and the skills growth he showed last season points to a potential spike in the stolen-base department if he can avoid the injury bug.
Hamilton improved on the basepaths but regressed at the plate in 2015, and it's that latter quality that has us worried about his long-term prospects. But first, the good news: he was 57-for-65 in stolen base attempts in 114 games after getting caught 23 times in 2014. Those gains were canceled out by his performance at the plate, as his ISO dropped to a paltry .063 in 2015, giving opposing pitchers little reason to avoid challenging him in the strike zone. Thus, it's going to be extraordinarily difficult for him to raise his walk rate above 10 percent and make him an acceptable leadoff hitter. He spent more time batting ninth (226 plate appearances) than leading off (208) in 2015, and that's unlikely to change in the future. His season ended early with a shoulder injury, and that same injury has kept him out of spring games early in camp, so his status for Opening Day is in question.
If the season ended on August 31, Hamilton's rookie season would have been a rousing success. He hit for more power than expected and was hitting .267/.302/.382 with 54 stolen bases. But he collapsed in September, hitting just .123 with 19 strikeouts in 65 at-bats and had just two more stolen bases before missing the final four games with a concussion. He fell short of his projected stolen base total in part because of that September slump, but also because he was caught a whopping 23 times on the season (seven of those coming on pickoffs). As he plays more at the major league level, his success rate should improve as he learns how to read opposing pitchers better, but he also has to get on base more frequently, having walked a mere 34 times in 611 plate appearances in 2014. While we don't ever expect him to be Tim Raines, we do suspect there will be some improvement in 2015, both in his ability to get on base and being able to run more without getting caught.
True speed demons like Hamilton have among the biggest fantasy swing potentials among all players. Is he going to be like Vince Coleman and dominate a category, or is he going to be more like Dee Gordon and lose playing time and struggle to keep a major league job? Much of Hamilton's value rests in the format of your league. If you play in the NFBC or any other no-trade league, Hamilton is especially tricky to value. A full season of him in the lineup gets you half of the way there in the stolen-base category, if not more. But if you draft him, chances are you are avoiding other elite stolen base guys, as a surplus in the category gets you nowhere, plus you have to draft power-heavy hitters to make up for Hamilton's shortfall there. If Hamilton scuffles and subsequently gets demoted, your team goes from likely winning the category to falling to the back of the pack. Hamilton struck out nearly 20 percent of the time at Triple-A without being a power threat (.343 slugging percentage) - there's a good chance that strikeout rate hits 25 percent or higher at the major league level, which will make it difficult for him to hit for a decent batting average. Be very cautious with Hamilton - the burn potential is high.
After Hamilton set the minor league single-season record for stolen bases in 2012, the Reds resisted the urge to call him up for the September stretch run, instead preserving their ability to keep him off the 40-man roster for another offseason. And in fairness, Hamilton probably isn't ready to face major league pitching, nor was there a place for him to play. Those things might change by midseason 2013, especially if the Reds don't reach outside the organization to find a leadoff hitter. Hamilton did more than steal bases last year - he also learned to master the strike zone, improving his walk rate as he climbed the organizational ladder. He still has no palpable power, so that ability to get on-base will need to translate at Triple-A and then the majors to allow him to cash in on his world-class speed. He played center field in the Arizona Fall League, so that could be his ultimate position once he hits the majors, especially if the Reds are locked in on Zack Cozart at shortstop.
Two numbers stand out when looking at Hamilton's 2011 stats: 103 and 39. That's 103 stolen bases (in 123 attempts) and 39 errors. Hamilton stayed at shortstop all season after playing much of 2010 at second base, so growing pains had to be expected. But while Hamilton has great range, he hasn't received good marks for his arm or his hands, so he might not stick at shortstop. He's a very raw prospect, so even with an organizational problem at shortstop, Hamilton is not a candidate for a quick promotion. However, it's worth noting that he really came on strong at Low-A Dayton after hitting .195 through May - he just needs plenty of time at each level to develop.
Hamilton was drafted out of a Mississippi high school in the second round of the 2009 draft and started to hit his stride last year in the Pioneer League, where he hit .318/.383/.456 with a whopping 48 stolen bases in 69 games. So far he hasn't hit for power, and this production came at a pretty low level, but Hamilton's raw tools should put him on your long-term radar.
More Fantasy News
Latches on with Kansas City
OFKansas City Royals
December 10, 2018
Hamilton will sign with the Royals on Monday, pending a physical, Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports.
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Headed to free agency
OFFree Agent
November 30, 2018
The Reds will decline to tender Hamilton a contract for 2019, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reports.
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Day off Sunday
OFCincinnati Reds
September 23, 2018
Hamilton is not starting Sunday against the Marlins.
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On bench Tuesday
OFCincinnati Reds
September 18, 2018
Hamilton is not in the lineup Tuesday against the Brewers.
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Swipes 31st base
OFCincinnati Reds
September 15, 2018
Hamilton went 0-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base in Saturday's loss to the Cubs.
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