Cincinnati Reds 2015 projections: Billy Hamilton

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Last offseason, it was pretty clear the Cincinnati Reds were going to go with Billy Hamilton as their every day center fielder. In the previous season, Hamilton’s first full season at Triple-A Louisville, the transition from infield to outfield took place. The results were on the level where the Reds felt they didn’t have to offer Shin-Soo Choo prime real estate within the Queen City in order to retain his services. Even if Choo had stayed with the Reds, he would have most likely been moved to left field, the position he manned for the Texas Rangers for the 2014 season.

Ah, what could have been…offensively.

Being a finalist for NL Rookie of the Year, Hamilton did dazzle on the basepaths, as many thought he would. The area many did not expect for Reds 2009 2nd round selection to excel was in the field. Last season was only the second full season where he had manned the position. He was also a finalist for the NL Gold Glove. Granted, he fell short on both fronts, but the future appears to be bright for the club with Hamilton in center and atop the lineup.

So exactly how does Steamer view Hamilton’s numbers for 2015?

[table id=1 /]

If you click on any players name, you will be taken to that respective post.

One stat that is not in the above table is the number of stolen bases Hamilton is projected to own. That would be 65 thefts.

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  • So in looking at Hamilton’s line, you may be wearing a bit of a frown. But look at his 2013 numbers while he was in Louisville:

    .256/.308/.343, 6 HR, 41 RBI, .300 wOBA, 82 wRC+, 75 SB in 123 games

    Look extremely similar, don’t they? And we have reason to expect at least that amount of production for Hamilton. And the issues have been documented many, many times. With Hamilton, it is a matter of getting on base so that he can utilize his speed to its fullest extent. The number people point to is his SO% and BB%. In that 2013 season in Louisville, those were 18.6% and 6.9% respectively. Last season, they were 19.1% and 5.6%.

    And take this into consideration. Hamilton has never had a season where his SO% has fallen below 17.7%. In the 2012 season where he set the record with 155 steals, his SO% combined for both levels (High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola) sat at 18.7%. What is something to behold is his walk rate. Other than 2012, Hamilton’s walk rate has never been above 10% aside from that season (14.2%).

    Another thing to consider. Last season, Hamilton was far more valuable from a defensive standpoint. On Fangraphs, his offensive rating was a -7.9 while his defensive rating was 22.0. With the above projections, Hamilton’s 2015 offensive rating will actually fall to -8.3. Of course, that’s provided the projections are dead-on accurate.

    With Hamilton sitting in the leadoff spot, he must perform above these numbers in 2015 of the Red are to be on contention. When he is on base, Hamilton undoubtedly brings a different dynamic to the game. The defense was as huge an added bonus as one could be.

    If 2015 can see Hamilton bring the bat to the level of his glove and defense, the Reds will have themselves one of baseball’s best center fielders.