Work has begun on our 2014 fantasy projections and we’ve already hit a snag in the form of a 160-pound outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds.
Put bluntly, Billy Hamilton is going to break projection systems across the web.
Since the Sabermetric Revolution began a little over a decade ago, we haven’t seen a player with Hamilton’s stolen base potential. In fantasy leagues, valuing Hamilton’s contribution in steals is going to prove difficult. It’s not a bold prediction to say that by Opening Day, 2014, Tristan Cockcroft will address this issue.
You see, there’s a non-zero chance that Hamilton gets Cincinnati’s center field job and approaches or exceeds 100 steals. In fact, non-zero probably doesn’t accurately reflect how likely this scenario is. I wouldn’t say it’s probable, but it’s definitely more than plausible.
And if you plug 100 steals into most conventional projection systems, Hamilton will come out as a top-five player. (We tried it. He did.)
Look, those 100 steals are valuable. You can flat-out win that category from wire-to-wire solely because of Hamilton, but don’t forget that he’s probably not the only guy you’re going to have who steals bases. At what point have you gone beyond fortifying the category?
I’d argue that stolen base benchmarks 70, 80, and 90 are less valuable than numbers 30, 40, and 50 — at that point you’re just needlessly piling it on — so for me the question is, “How much does the value of a steal change as a player keeps accruing them?”
Essentially, I’m talking about the Law of Diminishing Returns as it pertains to fantasy stats. I sat down and attempted to answer this question.
Video after the jump!