With steals becoming more scarce, owners were forced to reach for the few stolen base sources which could carry a team. In 2018, Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton were supposed to be two such sources. Both disappointed their owners but the risk of a decline was evident even though their owners, which includes the author, ignored them. The owners were hoping for a stolen base panacea but ended up with burnt pancakes.
Going into the season, our Depth Charts projected Hamilton to have the most stolen bases at 52 and Gordon was third at 46. Both missed badly with Hamilton stealing 34 and Gordon with 30. In my Tout Wars league, 16 steals were the difference between 7th and 2nd in the category.
The reason for their decline didn’t involve their ability to steal a base. Both couldn’t hit enough to get on base and continue leading off. Both had on-base rates under .300 and OPS’s in the low .600’s. By the season’s end, both were deservingly hitting at the bottom of the lineup (Hamilton 106 times, Gordon 34 times). In all fairness, their projected OPS values (.674 and .648) were below the average catcher (.676).