This is an excerpt from the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.
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"One of the most visible ways in which power pitching has changed the game is that it has overpowered the Hamilton class. There’s a high minimum strength standard now, and if you don’t reach it, you can’t play. Billy Hamilton doesn’t have a career .245 batting average because he’s obstinate but, rather, because you can’t beat modern pitching by 'just slapping the ball and running.' The game that Willie Wilson could play 40 years ago, that Otis Nixon could play 30 years ago, that Ichiro Suzuki and Juan Pierre could play even a decade ago, is gone.
"Billy Hamilton’s career is just another thing we’ve lost to pitchers becoming witches. Everything comes back to velocity. Everything."