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…