Hamilton hits a two-run triple during the third inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. (Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE)

Why The Rush With Hamilton?


Somethings never cease to amaze me. This is one of those cases. I have actually called for this previously, but considering the current climate, it’s almost mandatory to repeat this.

Why is there such an outcry to bring Billy Hamilton up to the Reds when rosters expand? And I can add this courtesy of a Twitter follower, but I will re-phrase this a little. So, if the Reds decline to add Hamilton to those be called up, does that mean the Reds simply don’t want to win? I will address these simultaneously because I’m in the mood for multi-tasking.

To make that statement is completely and utterly preposterous.

I will begin my answer by asking a question…exactly what would Hamilton bring to this team besides the speed element? I can answer that. Nothing at the moment. Why do I say that? Because Hamilton needs more time, and that is not a knock against him one bit.

First, Hamilton’s natural position is that of shortstop. Considering that is occupied by Zack Cozart, I don’t see Cozart’s playing time being limited in any capacity especially since Hamilton has committed 70 errors over the past two seasons.

The conjecture has been for at least two years that Hamilton will eventually have to move to another defensive position. The one most seem to agree on as of now is that of left field. Okay, so you do that now? In the middle of a playoff run? And you’re now going to tell Ryan Ludwick that he’s riding the pine? So, who sits?

I can hear the anti-Drew Stubbs folk now. “Play him in center”. Small tidbit of info here. Hamilton has never played a day in the outfield in his 4 seasons in the minors. If there is a concern, it is arm strength. The Reds philosophy (as it is for practically every MLB teams) is that you must be strong defensively up the middle.

Combining these two points, Hamilton would need a year (at least) to acclimate himself to a new defensive position provided that’s the plan. Prior to this season, it was once thought Hamilton wold need to move to second base. With the Reds giving an extension to Brandon Phillips, Hamilton to second base is not happening. Outfield is looking like a prime destination.

Another thought. Let’s say Hamilton is not successful. Ending the season on a “downer” would be deflating even with all the success he’s seen this year. The most recent event is the one that most sticks in your head. Hamilton has had great success in High-A and Double-A this season. He’s batting over .300 and owns an on-base percentage over .400 at both levels.

Add this. Hamilton is a switch-hitter, but has only seen a lot of time from the left side of the plate for a mere two years.

But that is High-A and Double-A. It’s not the bigs. In the Cal League, it’s a given that many players can and will hit. The same does not hold true as much in the Southern League, but Hamilton has not been as successful stealing bases, the one thing he is most noted for doing.

Granted, it’s not a huge discrepancy. Last year, Hamilton was successful on 84% of his theft attempts (103 for 123). This year it is down to 81% overall, but you must look at the percentage by level. For Bakersfield, Hamilton was at an 83% clip (104 for 125), but the Southern League catchers have been a little more successful throwing Hamilton out. For the Blue Wahoos, Hamilton is 50 for 65 is steal attempts, or 77%.

Yes, a certain Hall of Famer will work with Hamilton on that…

And I know where you were gravitating to on this. ” But I only want Hamilton on the roster for pinch-running situations. No other reasons”. Again, I have to ask a question. Do you honestly want to “start the clock” on this talent? Arbitration, making a move on the 40-man (Hamilton is not on the 40-man and someone would need to be dropped in order to add Hamilton. Many would think this is a no-brainer, but it’s never easy to drop a guy form the 40-man.), and all else with bringing Hamilton up? All that for less than a handful of situations where he can help you. Now that I think about it, maybe only a couple at best. Seriously? You want to risk so much for so little?

There is so much more to this than merely “bringing Hamilton up”, and it’s more of those “other things” that would likely prevent Hamilton from seeing the bigs this year. I want to see him in a Reds uniform as much as the next guy or gal. Thing is, I want to see a Billy Hamilton that is ready to play ball everyday at the Major League level, not for less than a few moments.

Once again…

Should Billy Hamilton be a September call-up?

  • Yes (58%, 119 Votes)
  • No (42%, 87 Votes)

Total Voters: 206

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Tags: Billy Hamilton Cincinnati Reds Featured Popular

  • Redsman

    You say that bringing him up for a pinch running role would only be “a couple (situations) at best”. This may be true, but what if one of those situations are the opportunity to get the winning run around in game seven of the world series or any playoff series? As a Reds fan since the early 80s I know that the chance to make a playoff run doesn’t happen every year, or every decade for that matter. The Reds are true contenders this year and bringing up quite possibly the fastest runner in baseball to pinch run (and pinch hit) is the only smart decision. Holding on to him for the future is conservative and I understand that. But, what happens if we don’t have another opportunity like this year for another 15 years? My take is to bring him up now and take advantage of every tool we have in the system to win now.

    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      Thanks for stopping by and letting you opinion be heard.

      I can completely relate to your thoughts. As one that grew up in Big Red Machine era, I was spoiled into thinking winning was commonplace. I mean four World Series appearances and two titles in seven seasons. What more could a fan want? As a Reds fan, I have experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows as well.

      In the scenarios you bring forth, Hamilton would, basically, need to be added today. Walt has said Hamilton will “probably not” be among the call-ups. There are other circumstances that could see Hamilton added, but they border on being able decipher hieroglyphics in order to completely understand them. Well, that’s going a little overboard, but it would involve something like someone being unable to play due to injury in order for Hamilton to be considered as a roster addition.

      I completely see where you are coming from with the “win it all now” mentality. I can’t say I blame you for subscribing to that either as history indicates it could be another handful of years (at least) before the Reds are considered legitimate contenders again. There is a difference here. That difference is this Reds team holds a foundation that can and should contend on a yearly basis for at least another handful of years.

  • beeker

    I lean toward bringing him up, but unlike many I admit that it is out of selfish interest. Exposure to the bigs would be good for his development, and giving him a chance to play a small role (pinch running only) in helping the team would be a tangible expression of the club’s belief in him. Starting the clock on him is a factor, but I’m not sure I would skip him solely for that reason.

    However, if fans out there are saying that if the Reds aren’t interested in winning if they don’t call him up… I’m sorry, that’s just silly. If the team decides he isn’t ready to run on major league catchers (like you said, he isn’t going to contribute at the plate or in the field), I’m fine with that. Do these people really mean to claim that the Reds’ post-season fate rests solely with a 21-yo in AA? Child, please.

    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      Well said…