Cincinnati Reds’ center fielder is suddenly one of the elite outfielders in all of the National League

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After uneven play throughout his career and to start this season, Billy Hamilton is now an elite player for the Cincinnati Reds.

The Cincinnati Reds have waited several years for their best defensive center fielder of all time to become an elite offensive player as well.  The time may finally have arrived.  Since May started Billy Hamilton has gone from OK to elite.

Hamilton’s short MLB career has seen a wide range hits per season since he has been an everyday starter.  His strikeout rate has also fluctuated wildly.  He has been consistent in steals, where he has increased by one steal each season he has been a starter.

To open this season Hamilton only had a .265 OBP for the first month which is well below his career average.  He also had a .245 slugging percentage which is below his .336 career average.  Hamilton also struck out about once per game the first month of the season.

Hamilton’s a career .250 hitter with an OBP of .300.  Those are barely replacement levels.  If it weren’t for his elite defense and stolen base skill, Hamilton wouldn’t have been a starter in the majors.

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These are the usual Hamilton conundrums.  He is streaky, but he is always good to steal some bases. This year has been a bit different, though.

With some more walks Billy Hamilton has gone from fringe player to elite for the Cincinnati Reds in 2017.

It’s not just walks, but they are a big reason why Hamilton is in such a great place.  He is on pace to nearly double his career high of 36 from last year.  At 15 walks through 42 games, he is all but a shoo-in to set a new career high.

Hamilton is doing other impressive things.  He is leading all NL outfielders in steals, by collecting more than the next two highest outfielders combined.  He is also in a tie with Dexter Fowler of the Saint Louis Cardinals for second in triples in the NL.

More important for the Reds Hamilton is third in at-bats among NL outfielders and fourth in runs   These are the stats of healthy everyday outfielders.  Only fourteen outfielders have played more games so far this season than the Reds’ centerfielder.

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This is what the Reds have been waiting for.  Hamilton is finally an everyday player that can run and score runs.  If he can keep this up for another month, he may even force his way onto his first ever All-Star team in Miami.