Opening Day Countdown: Hamilton’s 41 SBs in ‘92

Apr 6, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; The Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies line up for Opening Day ceremonies at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; The Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies line up for Opening Day ceremonies at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

As we continue to countdown to Opening Day, we look back at one of Darryl Hamilton’s career years in 1992 where he had 41 stolen bases. Going deep into his minor league career, it appeared, at first, he may be a speed demon. In rookie league, he had 34 SBs and then got it up to 43 in Single-A. So, right away scouts only hoped he could continue going strong at the same level going on through the system. He had a bit of a decrease going up into AA and onto the Brewers in ’88 like most young players. But, it’s not like a total of 30 in 116 games isn’t much to complain about. Not to mention, he kept on hitting (.325/.404/.394) in 72 games with AA in ’89, which was most important for the Brewers. He was not a power hitter, but his speed, on base, and fielding looked like a promising development.

But, getting back to ’92, the 41 SBs were just enough to get in the top 10 in the AL as he tied Lance Johnson at 9th on the list. Yet, even with 41 SBs, he didn’t lead his own team. Pat Listach took that title as he stole 54. Good enough to be 2nd in the AL, but a guy by the small name of Kenny Lofton well outdid everyone with 66.

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Although Hamilton’s ’92 and ’93 seasons equal out in WAR at 3.6 (his career high), it’s a flip of a coin which year was better. ’92 showed some big differences in basic stats like SB – 41 compared to 21 in ’93. Along with SOs – (42 / 62) and RBIs (62 / 48). But, ’93 showed a small advantage in the batting line .310/.367/.406 compared to .298/.356/.400. Small difference, but factors in on the overall WAR. But, looking at Baseball-Reference’s oWAR and dWAR, Hamilton may have lacked in defense in ’92. He by far was at his best in offense with a career high in oWAR of 3.4 as 2.4 was his closest in ’93. It was just the opposite in ’93 as his dWAR was a career high of 0.9 (tied in ’98) and a bit lower at -0.1 in ’92.

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After his last season with the Brewers in ’95, he played for 4 different teams including the Rangers, Giants, Rockies, and Mets. Although it was safe to assume, he peaked with the Crew, he made a nice jump in his career with the Giants/Rockies in ’98 (as he was traded at the deadline) with a 3.0 WAR. Very similar to his ’93 campaign as his oWAR wasn’t all that high at 2.2, but his dWAR got back up and matched his best at 0.9. Although, his time with his first 3 teams didn’t result in any World Series trips, he made one in 2000 with the Mets, but unfortunately, couldn’t quite get a championship ring as they lost in 5 games.

Before Hamilton tragically passed away, Brewers fans most remember him filling in for Bob Uecker on the road for radio telecasts. Personally, I mostly recall when Joe Block would get into the sabermetrics world to dig out some numbers and Hamilton would get a bit bewildered and couldn’t help but point out his nerdiness. Although I wanted to be my normal self and point out how wrong it was of Hamilton to rip on MY Joe, I realized he did make a good reminder to fans to not wrap themselves around the stats too much. As like others, I can go into goofy statistical arguments with friends instead of simply laughing it off and moving on to watch for the fun of it. He had a love for the game and a nonstop smile. And that’s something we all should pass on.

So, with 41 days left until Opening Day, we hope the youth of the Brew Crew can enjoy the game as much as Mr. Darryl Hamilton.