Billy Hamilton is really fast. Billy Hamilton can't hit a lick. This much we know.
Hamilton now has 1,087 plate appearances in his career and he owns an abysmal .617 OPS. Since 1974 only six hitters have started their careers as poorly as Hamilton at the plate.
These are the only hitters of the past 40 years to get on base less and show less power than Hamilton through the first three years of their careers (minimum 1000 at bats). The first two columns are their stats for the start of their career. The final column shows what type of hitter they turned into. None of them ever turned into league average hitters, or anywhere close. How bad is Omar Vizquel's group-leading 82 OPS+? That's basically the same as Jean Segura's career mark.
This doesn't mean that Hamilton can't become a decent hitter. It's possible, but it's just not likely. He wasn't a complete disaster in his rookie campaign and most importantly, his speed made up for his bat in Fantasy Baseball. That speed is enough to make him draftable even when he hits as poorly as he did last year. Hamilton has 113 stolen bases in the past two seasons and there are many who believe he hasn't come anywhere close to his peak.
The problem is that his speed may not be enough to keep him in a starting role if he gets on base at a .274 clip again this season. Major League teams can live with a bad hitter in their lineup if he steals 50-60 bases. It's harder to settle for a second hole in your lineup.
I have backed off of Hamilton because of the risk he presents and my lack of faith in the likelihood he improves at the plate. With that being said, he can't be ignored in Roto because he'll likely win you the stolen base category. Surprisingly, I even drafted him in our most recent mock because he fell to the 14th round. Unfortunately, Hamilton is being drafted in the first nine rounds in most leagues and there is very little hope that he delivers value on that cost.