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Statistically speaking: Can Pirates contain Hamilton on bases

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By David Golebiewski
Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 10:35 p.m.
 

The Reds likely will miss the playoffs for the first time in three years, due mostly to a lethargic offense that has performed 15 percent worse than the MLB average once you account for Great American Ballpark's hitter-friendly tendencies. The 2013 Cincinnati lineup that the Pirates knocked off last October was at least a league-average unit.

With Joey Votto (quadriceps) on the disabled list and Jay Bruce enduring his worst season while playing on a surgically repaired knee, the Reds rely upon speedster Billy Hamilton to create runs with his legs. The rookie of the year candidate doesn't figure to swipe bags at will against Russell Martin, but he could wreak havoc against a Pirates outfield that struggles to hold base runners.

Hamilton has stolen 51 bases this season, which ranks second in the majors behind Dee Gordon and puts him on pace to join Joe Morgan and Eric Davis in the Reds' 60-steal club. But Hamilton also has been caught stealing an MLB-high 19 times, and his overall success rate is a league-average 72.5 percent.

He will have to get a good jump against Martin, who has thrown out 30 of 77 runners (39 percent) attempting to steal this season. Among catchers behind the plate for at least 700 innings, only Yadier Molina (49 percent) and Brian McCann (42 percent) have controlled the running game more effectively.

The Pirates' outfielders won't instill the same sense of fear in Hamilton, who is taking an extra base far more often (64 percent) than the big league average (40 percent).

Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Travis Snider all struggle to prevent opponents from advancing multiple bases (when possible) on hits or tagging up on fly balls.

Hamilton could be particularly apt to challenge McCutchen, who's battling a rib cage injury and has a hold rate well below his career average of 40.1 percent.

Below-average arms

Player Pos. Hold rate Pos. Avg.

Marte LF 61.3 62.8

McCutchen CF 31.7 45.7

Snider RF 45.0 47.1

Source: Baseball-Reference

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

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