Cincinnati Reds in Review: CF Billy Hamilton


After a roller coaster rookie season, Billy Hamilton has made it out the other side unscathed and still the Cincinnati Reds centerfielder for years to come.

His season was capped off with a second-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year race, but more notable was the award he also did not win; the Gold Glove.

Billy Hamilton – Centerfielder

Things could not have started much worse for Hamilton in what would become his rookie campaign in 2014. In his opening series, he would go 0-for-12 with six strikeouts against the sharks of the St. Louis Cardinals rotation.

Despite that miserable start, Hamilton would still manage to hit .285 over the entirety of the first half. In addition to that, he would whack five home runs, steal 38 bases, and have a reasonable .319 on-base percentage. Come the second half though, those numbers took a drastic dive, with just one home run, 18 steals, and a .254 on-base percentage.

The reason Hamilton dropped down into second place in the Rookie of the Year voting can be easily attributed to his miserable month of September. Batting just .123 for the entire month, Hamilton saw his numbers take a nosedive. In the long run, this was understandable, as Hamilton had never played this late into the season, let alone at this level of baseball, in addition to the minor injuries he picked up along the way.

Where even Hamilton himself says he will improve next season is in the bunting department. While it didn’t seem like with the naked eye that he had all that much success with it, he went 15-for-44, good for a .341 batting average when doing it. At season’s end, Baseball America had him voted as the second-best bunter in all of baseball. Now just imagine him “improving” on that.

Hidden inside Hamilton’s numbers are some brilliant oddities; he would produce a slash line .343/.429/.537 in 78 plate appearances against the Chicago Cubs, driving in 12 runs against them, and walking 10 times, the highest for him in either category; against the Milwaukee Brewers, he hit four of his six career home runs, yet struck out 15 times in just 54 at-bats; he hit .349 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and ran all over Russell Martin and Chris Stewart, swiping 12 bags, his highest against any single team.

Curiously,’s most likely player comparison has Hamilton mirroring Bernie Williams, the former New York Yankee great. While Williams would go to post solid power numbers in his career, if Hamilton can duplicate what Bernie did in New York (win multiple World Series crowns), Reds fans will love watching him roam centerfield everyday for however long he chooses to stay in Cincinnati.

Hamilton’s Stat Line:

.250/.292/.355, 563 AB, 25 2B’s, 8 3B’s, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 56 SB-23 CS, 2.5 WAR

Top Billy Hamilton Moment:

The top Billy Hamilton moment was every time he would reach base to leadoff a game, swipe second, have the throw go into centerfield assisting him in taking third, and then scoring later in the inning. Unfortunately (actually, very fortunately), that happened far too many times for it to stick out above the rest.

What was one of Billy’s shining moments was not offensively, but rather with the glove. On what would be his final game of the season, September 24, Billy Hamilton sacrificed his body to make a catch for rookie starting pitcher Daniel Corcino. In the top of the third, Ryan Braun clobbered a pitch to deep centerfield that made even Hamilton turn around and sprint back for. As he approached the wall, it appeared as if the ball was headed straight for the Reds bullpen, but that was not to be, as Hamilton jumped up and snared the ball out of the air, while crushing his head off what appeared to be the padded wall. As it turned out, there was a steel beam underneath that pad, and that “pad” wasn’t much of one at all.

Ultimately, the concussion that ended Hamilton’s season was nothing major. But it signified just the type of player he was, that despite how horrendous he was hitting, it never affected his Gold Glove-caliber defense in the outfield.

Low Point of the Season for Billy Hamilton:

We had touched on it briefly earlier how Hamilton began his season facing a three-headed monster from the St. Louis Cardinals of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, and Michael Wacha, all of whom dominated the youngster.

It was outrageous looking back on it, but many believed Hamilton should go back down to Triple-A! Not even four games into his 2014 campaign, and many were ready to pull the plug on the Hamilton experiment in favor of some other retread.

Now, more than eight months later, Hamilton stands as the Reds centerfield of the future.

Final Grade: B-

I’m as cognizant of the on-base percentage and caught stealing’s as you all are. I recognize that Billy didn’t exactly steal 150 bases, or bat .300, or actually win the Gold Glove, but to expect all that in his rookie season may have been excessive.

His position in the batting order is not his choice, so he did the best he could setting the table for the remainder of the group. One thing was clear: when Hamilton did get on base, the offense hummed. Now just imagine 2015 when Hamilton can get on at a better clip, and will actually have some thunder behind him. The Redlegs will be back to scoring runs—except this time; Hamilton will be the engine starter.