Is David Hamilton the Next Great Base Stealer: Ryan’s Reflections

by Ryan Kirksey
Aaron Judge's Amazing Pace

On Sunday night against the rival New Yankees, Boston Red Sox rookie David Hamilton, reached base three times, scored three runs, and stole four bases. The on-base ability (.340) and runs scored totals (25) for Hamilton have been fantastic but it's the stolen base ability that has everyone in the Fantasy Baseball community talking. With 18 steals in 47 games this season, the question is clear. Is David Hamilton the next great base stealer in Fantasy Baseball?

In the preseason and first six weeks of the season, all the talk was on Ronald Acuna potentially reaching 70 steals again or if Elly De La Cruz could break 100 after reaching 30 before June even started. With Acuna out for the season and De La Cruz on 34 and well under a 100-steal pace, the steals zealots need a new name to talk about. Ono pace for 52 steals this season, Hamilton has become that name.

Can a rookie who didn't debut until the third week of the season steal 50 bases? Will a player who wasn't even a consideration on draft boards in the Spring win managers the steals category? This piece will look at the incredible pace Hamilton is on with his speed and see if it might continue for the rest of 2024.

Is David Hamilton the Next Great Base Stealer?

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Stealing loads of bases is nothing new for David Hamilton. In his three minor league seasons, his totals were 52, 70 and 57 steals. Knowing this, it's a surprise more fantasy managers didn't jump to pick him up initially. Perhaps it was because he had zero steals in five games in AAA this year. Maybe it was because he tanked in his short debut with Boston last season. Whatever the reason, the roster percentage for Hamilton has languished for weeks. Only recently have sites like Yahoo and ESPN seen Hamilton's roster percentage go north of 75%.

 

 

 

Just how fast is Hamilton? He's borderline elite. His 28.9 feet/second spring speed is 90th percentile across all of Major League Baseball. Among shortstops, that is tied for sixth-fastest in the league. Only guys like Bobby Witt, Elly De La Cruz, and Trea Turner are ahead of him. But perhaps Hamilton's best asset is not just speed. It's his ability to maintain speed all the way through a steal or on advancement to another base. Hamilton's 3.75 90-foot speed score is the fifth-best among all hitters. The leaders are all at 3.74 seconds, so Hamilton is right there with them.

Hamilton's Steals Are Even More Valuable in Real Life Baseball

Yes, Hamilton has proven that he can steal bases on just about anyone but he has also shown his stolen base opportunities aren't just for personal gain. He has also become one of the best at turning his stolen base opportunities into runs. Fangraphs tracks a measurement called Weighted Stolen Bases. It tracks a player's steals compared to caught stealing compared to resulting runs. David Hamilton excels at the statistic.

For 2024, only De La Cruz and Brice Turang are better in all of Major League Baseball. It's just more proof that the Red Sox will give Hamilton every chance to steal as he can manage. Hamilton has already proven he can get on base as a very high rate. His walk rate of 6.7% this season is more than four percentage points behind his minor league average. If he can get the same patience at the plate he had in the minors, Hamilton could even have more stolen base opportunities coming his way.

What to Expect From David Hamilton the Rest of 2024?

Unfortunately, the timing of this piece might be the worst possible for Hamilton. After striking out at a plate appearance in Monday's contest against the Toronto Blue Jays, he left with side discomfort. As of Monday evening, there was no further update, but fantasy managers have to hope an IL stint isn't coming. If it's an oblique injury, it could sideline him for 2-4 weeks depending on the severity.

Fortunately, an oblique injury shouldn't affect his speed. In fact, if Hamilton does go on the IL, it could represent a buying opportunity for teams that need speed. Sunday night was a strong indication of his upside. The Red Sox are languishing outside of the Wild Card race. They have no incentive to shut down Hamilton or keep him from running at his current pace.

Can Hamilton get to 50 steals this season? Not likely with an IL stint, but 40 seems very realistic. Last season, only six players stole at least 40 bases. Five of those players played 150 games, with one at 132. Even if he isn't able to get to 50, Hamilton's situation sets him up as one of the new premier stolen base threats in fantasy baseball.


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