Prospect Smackdown: Billy Hamilton vs. Adam Eaton

Welcome to Prospect Smackdown: a new series we’re starting here at TDG designed to both let you compare similar fantasy players and prospects, as well as challenge some conventional wisdom about players heading into 2014.

The format is simple. We’ll give you two players (or sets of players), ask you a question about those players, lay out information about those players and then ask you to vote. The goal here is less to convince you of something and more to learn how you judge the players we scout, rank and analyze every day.

Feel free to vote anonymously or to explain who you vote for and why in the comments, and feel free to suggest future smackdowns, too. I’m going to be spearheading the series at first, but if this is something we determine our readers have a lot of interest in, I’m sure our other writers will jump in!

Prospect Smackdown No.1 - Who will steal more bases in 2014: Billy Hamilton or Adam Eaton?

The case for Hamilton

The case for Hamilton is pretty straightforward: He’s the fastest player in organized baseball, an 80-grade runner who almost needs a “90″ in that regard. He stole 165 – not a typo – bases between Rookie ball, A+ and AA in 2012, and followed that up with a paltry 88 steals between Triple-A and the majors last season. Right now, Hamilton is the odds-on favorite to serve as the Reds lead-off hitter, and if he sees 500 PA 80+ steals is not out of the question. For comparison’s sake, Jacoby Ellsbury lead all of baseball with just 52 steals.

The case against Hamilton

His .308 OBP in Triple-A last season, which could lead the Reds to believe he needs more MiLB seasoning. Hamilton is also raw defensively in center as he’s still new to the outfield, which could further detract from his playing time. There’s no negative here if he does play, though. He should steal a base in at least every other game in which he plays.

The case for Eaton

Freed from the glut of outfielders in Arizona, Eaton doesn’t figure to want for playing time in Chicago, where his biggest competition comes from the likes of Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza. In fact, odds are pretty good that Eaton will start the year as the White Sox lead-off hitter, meaning he could have plenty of chances to run. The 25-year-old stole 46 bases between three levels in 2012 before nabbing just 13 steals in an injury-plagued campaign last season.

The case against Eaton

He’s just nowhere near as fast as Hamilton, who probably needs 1/3 the playing time of Eaton to steal just as many bases. Eaton also wasn’t the most efficient runner in the minors, which could lead to more red lights coming his way should he prove equally challenged in the majors. Eaton’s ceiling is also much lower, with a conservative estimate pegging him for 25 swipes in 2014.

So tell us, loyal TDG readers. If you’re targeting steals for 2014 only, do you go with Hamilton, or Eaton?

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18 comments on “Prospect Smackdown: Billy Hamilton vs. Adam Eaton

  1. Jon says:

    I’m always wary of speedsters who can’t hit (ala Dee Gordon), but Hamilton showed last year that he can flat out fly. He could probably beat Eaton in that regard if he were simply delegated to pinch running duty.

    • Ben Carsley says:

      I don’t see the Reds using Hamilton as a pinch runner, though, at least not until late in the season. They should want him to play everyday, either in AAA or in the majors.

  2. Dan says:

    Bundy vs Bradley long-term?

  3. ND says:

    Actually…that 165 is a typo lol

  4. The breaks says:

    Off topic, but would you trade cespedes and jarrod Parker for Cobb and profar? I’m thinking yes, I just need a push in the right direction.

  5. Mike Buttil says:

    Great idea Ben! Kind of like the shoot/marry/f**k of fantasy!

  6. rk1101 says:

    One idea that came to mind. More Home Runs in 2014 Oswaldo Arcia or Josh Hamilton?

  7. […] Carsley took a look at Chicago’s newest and grittiest outfielder in TDG’s first-ever “Prospect Smackdown” on Tuesday, and I can tell you that White Sox fans are already embracing @AdamSpankyEaton on the […]

  8. Tony says:

    Interesting comparison here. I am still iffy on going after Eaton. Would you trade Tyson Ross in a keeper league for Adam Eaton?

  9. Chrevan says:

    Hey Ben, this is greatl As alluded to above, I agree that Hamilton would have more steals strictly as a PR, and will top that by saying it would happen in half a season. He may spend some time back at AAA to sharpen his defense but unless he can start walking at a much higher rate, he may be relegated to PR duties. This would raise and interesting question as whether a speedster that can play mediocre defense is worthy of a spot on the 25 man roster. If Cincinati doesn’t think so, they could always trade him to Boston!

  10. […] bases at the major league level in 2014. You The People leaned heavily in favor of Hamilton, with 83 percent of you voting for the fastest man in organized baseball, despite the questions surrounding his playing […]

  11. Hollywood says:

    I was running some numbers on Hamilton in conjunction with the values assigned on the ESPN player rater for 2013 and I thought some of your readers might find this interesting. A hitter who provides an even 0 on their player rater would put up the following statistics. Please note that batting average ranking on the player rater has some anomalies, but generally this is true:

    R: 33
    HR: 8
    RBI: 31
    SB: 5
    AVG: .258

    If he put up 52 steals, like Jacoby Ellsbury, he would have received 6.13 points. I believe that he can do better than that. Based upon the way the player rater was treating the value of each steal between Eric Young (46) and Ellsbury (52), we can reasonably assume each steal from 46 on was worth another .12833 points on the player rater. So if you assume Hamilton steals 70 bases, which I do not believe is out of the question if he is leading off, he would provide 8.44 points on the SB column. If he hits no HR, he would lose .88 points, and would then be a player rated at about 7.56 (assuming he gets a palyer rater value of 0 in batting average, 0 in runs and 0 in RBI). That ranking would have made him the 52nd best player in 2013 on the Player Rater.

    To give a better batting average calculation and overall projection, I took the same value as Nate Schierholtz in batting average in 2013 (5.8 BB% and .251 batting average with 503 PA) because it seems to be in line with the rather pessimistic view that many projection systems had of Hamilton’s bat and his calculation was valued at -.26. That puts him at number 54 on the Player Rater with a total Player Rater value of 7.3.

    If you want to regress him further and give him a Rajai Davis RBI total of 24, he loses another .23 and has a value of 7.07. That makes him number number 62.

    If Hamilton put up the following line in 2013, he would have ranked 62 overall on the ESPN player rater:

    R: 33
    HR: 0
    RBI: 24
    SB: 70
    AVG: .251 (with the Nate Schierholtz line listed above)

    I will regress him one more time. This time we will regress his steals to 55, so his line is as follows:

    R: 33
    HR: 0
    RBI: 24
    SB: 55
    AVG: .251

    That line is good for 5.37 and he’d be the 124th player on the Player Rater. I guess he’d better steal 70…

    Any thoughts (understanding that I know that using the player rater as a premise has faults)?

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