I find myself continually conflicted at the whole Billy Hamilton as leadoff hitter thing. I get good and comfortable with it being a bad idea, but then friend of the Nation Joel Luckhaupt publishes this piece with The Athletic. It is subscription only (you should really subscribe to The Athletic if you haven’t). The crux is that while the true value of these things is very hard to suss out, Hamilton’s baserunning is so good that he scores a lot more often when he gets on base than the average player and given that, he’s probably not nearly as bad a choice to leadoff as his OBP would make it seem.
I don’t know how I feel about it and I think the point, really, is that we don’t know the answer. I would still prefer Winker batting first and Hamilton batting ninth but I also have to acknowledge that Hamilton’s incredibly special baserunning tool makes up for a lot of the OBP he’s missing. I think, perhaps, we’ve gotten so used to Billy that we forget that he is almost unique in his ability to score once he’s on base.
And speaking of people we’ve gotten a little too used to, I am always poking around for interesting Joey Votto numbers. The other day, I stumbled over this. It’s a list of all hitters in MLB history sorted by wRC+ for their age 31-33 seasons. Votto is 16th. The first page shows you the top-30. I don’t want to give too much away, just go look at it and marvel at the company he’s in. Joey Votto is one of the very best hitters in MLB history.