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Billy Hamilton Is the 26th Man

The 2020 MLB season will introduce a variety of new rules, many of which have been touched on right here at Overtime Heroics. There is one rule that the Giants are looking to take advantage of, the extra roster spot. In the 2020 season, the roster sizes will go from 25 to 26. Why is extra roster spot such a big deal? Well, because it allows players like Billy Hamilton to thrive in a niche role.

See related article: San Francisco Giants: News and Notes

What the 26th Man Represents

What the 26th man will be for nearly every MLB team is an extra hitter. Even though the roster expanded, the maximum amount of pitchers MLB teams can hold is still thirteen. Many teams, like the Giants, carried thirteen pitchers last season regardless. Therefore, adding another roster spot adds another hitter to the roster. Even more importantly, that “hitter” can be more of a niche player. Every roster already has their “backups” at each spot and the Giants have so much versatility amongst their backups that they can use their final roster spot for a guy who can help them on the basepaths and in the field. Billy Hamilton fits that role extremely well.

Examples In History

There are plenty of examples in history where teams have used niche players to not only compete but win World Series Championships with. A couple of recent examples are Jarrod Dyson for the Royals in ’14 and ’15, as well as Gregor Blanco throughout his tenure with the Giants. Both of these guys compare very similarly to Billy Hamilton. All three of these players, while in their primes, played elite defense and were speedy baserunners that provided value with stolen bases, but were consistently awful with the bat. Jarrod Dyson has stolen 20+ bases in seven of his nine seasons so far. Gregor Blanco stole 10+ bases in every season except for one and usually hovered around the fifteen SB mark. Billy Hamilton has played six seasons with 100+ games, in only one of those did he NOT top 30 SB and in four of them, he had 50+ SB. Add in the Gold Glove defense and you can nearly ignore the light bat.

Why Billy Hamilton Will Work For the Giants

This can work for the Giants, specifically due to their aforementioned versatility on the field and unsettled outfield situation. While players like Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Evan Longoria are entrenched at SS, 1B, C, and 3B respectively, the rest of the roster is unsettled. The OF is full of platoon guys and frankly lacks an elite defender, the roster itself sorely lacks elite speed. Billy Hamilton provides both of these things. The best part is that the Giants now have room for him thanks to the extra roster spot. The Giants can now deploy Billy Hamilton as an elite defensive replacement, a pinch runner with the scary speed that will be a nuisance to pitchers, and the ability to change a game in an instant. Elite speed and glove are hard to find in MLB and the Giants got it for a minor-league deal, and with the 26 man roster, they can afford to ignore the rest.

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