With the signing of Billy Hamilton this week, the Kansas City Royals will have three of the best stealers in the Majors in their starting lineup.
The Kansas City Royals now have three players on their roster who can steal 40 or more bases next year. For a team with little to no power, this is how they will have to generate offense.
Adding Billy Hamilton to this roster was a great move for the Royals. Speed and defense come cheaper than power from a plodding corner outfielder or aging designated hitter.
Reportedly, Hamilton’s deal with the Royals is a one-year pact for $5.25 million, including $1 million in incentives, according to Buster Olney.
Though only 28 years old, Hamilton has 277 career stolen bases. From 2014 through 2017, he averaged 57.5 thefts a season. He joins a squad that boasts the reigning Major League stolen base king, Whit Merrifield. The Royals’ second baseman has led the American League the past two season, averaging 39.5 pilfered bags.
Now throw in young Adalberto Mondesi, who stole 32 bases in just 75 games in 2018. Those three will offer as much speed as any threesome in recent memory. The Indians led the Majors with 135 steals in 2018. It’s conceivable Hamilton, Merrifield, and Mondesi could steal that many themselves.
Of course, the speed drops off significantly after that. Alex Gordon swiped 12 bases last year and Chris Owings averaged 15 a season over the past four years in Arizona, but after that, no player on the current roster stole more than three last season.
The biggest issue standing in the way of Hamilton’s running wild around the base paths is his inability to get on base in the first place. As the old saying goes, you can’t steal first base.
In 2,736 plate appearances, his career On Base Percentage is a paltry .298. In fact, he’s only topped .300 in OBP once in his career.
Alcides Escobar had that same issue, with an OBP of .293 in his career. He still managed to steal 174 bases, recording 17 or more six times in his career.
Once on base, Hamilton, Merrifield, and Mondesi can create havoc by distracting the pitchers and putting pressure on defenses.
When these three are on base, the batter will probably see a steady stream of fastballs as the pitchers try to hold the runners at bay.
It should make this offense, which doesn’t feature any marquee names, be fairly exciting. If these guys and get on base, they should make things happen.
Improving the speed and defense of this team is an affordable way for Dayton Moore to keep the Royals somewhat competitive next season as he awaits the development of some younger players in the organization. The fact they may offer some extra excitement is just a big bonus for fans!
The Kansas City Royals probably won’t compete for the postseason but they should be fun to watch on the basepaths with Hamilton, Merrifield, and Mondesi!