Rosenthal: Starting Billy Hamilton is “So Obvious”

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Since September call-ups, no single Reds player has generated the attention that Billy Hamilton has received. Maybe no call-up in all of baseball has received the amount of coverage the Reds top prospect has. He’s 13-for-13 in steals attempts including that 4-for-4 game against the Astros. Not even pitch outs have curtailed him.

That might be part of the reason FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Reds might be better served to start Hamilton in center and move Shin-Soo Choo to left.

Why is Rosenthal stating this move is “so obvious for the Reds”?

First, Ryan Ludwick is struggling in the power department. Luddy is 7-for-17 over his last four games, but all of those hits are singles. His last home run came on August 30. With Ludwick usually being slotted as the clean-up or #5 hitter, you expect more poke from those spots. They’re not getting it.

Next, there is the issue of Choo’s defense. Obviously, people will point to Choo’s DRS of -18 (as Rosenthal does) and wonder if the move from right to center has paid off enough from an offensive standpoint. Some would argue that it has. But why not let the rookie have a crack?

That is part of the unknown regarding the Hamilton package. This is his first season starting at the center field position. Reds fans know the other part would be his offensive production. Sure, he’s sitting on a .429 batting average, but that’s 6 hits in 14 at-bats (16 PA). You know the three words that follow: small sample size.

This all said, a Reds outfield alignment of Choo, Hamilton and Jay Bruce stands a chance to be better defensively.

Rosenthal also notes that Hamilton most likely isn’t ready to “the assume such responsibility” of the situation. To me, part of that refers to his offensive numbers in Louisville (.256/.308/.343) and throw in the defensive aspect. And what about having Billy atop the order? Would anyone want to see Choo removed from the spot in which he has been so successful this season? A spot the Reds have scratched to fill for the past half a decade – at least?

Another question: is it too late in the season to make such a move? While the Reds chances of winning the division seem practically nil at this point, there is still the wild card game and even beyond to consider. We’ve already seen one move made based on this as Mat Latos will get the ball today instead of the originally scheduled Greg Reynolds. This is so Latos can start that wild card game.

Different with the pitching staff, right? But do you dare tinker with the lineup? Why not. Dusty has at times this season, maybe not to the extent some fans wished he would.

If you do undergo this tinkering, do you go with this lineup?

1. BHam
2. Choo
3. Votto
4. BP
5. Bruce (can’t have three lefties in a row, can you?)
6. Frazier
7. Cozart
8. Hanigan/Mesoraco

And here’s today’s starting lineup from John Fay

Giving Ludwick a day off? Seeing what this lineup, minus Izturis, can do? Close to my projection, but I think about anyone would guess that.

Such a move as starting Hamilton could produce more questions. Then again, not making this move would produce only one, and using the words of Rosenthal: why didn’t the Reds make the “obvious” move?

If that last question is the one that ends up being asked, we know where the finger pointing will begin.

Topics: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds

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