Billy Hamilton works to improve his skill set for the Cincinnati Reds or his next team.
The Cincinnati Reds drafted Billy Hamilton out of high school as a fast right-handed hitting shortstop. Now, he is the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball. He is also an elite runner.
Entering his second off-season of arbitration eligibility, Hamilton is still looking to improve. As a 27-year old, Hamilton is the topic of many trade rumors. Last year, statistically, should have been Hamilton’s peak year.
Other teams know what they see in Hamilton, but the Reds are still hoping for more. His OBP in 2017 was .299, but he still collected 59 steals. Despite ending the season injured, this off-season has been skill set focused instead of rehabilitation focused.
Of course, the skill set training only matters if it results in a better OBP. Ironically, Hamilton has spent his entire career on the same team as baseball’s best OBP machine, Joey Votto. If he can’t do better in 2018, there isn’t much hope that he ever will.
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His first year in center field was also the end of the Reds’ latest playoff run. This off-season Hamilton is working with Tony Jaramillo on batting left-handed. Of course, his right-handed hitting fell apart this season.
Despite training to overcome the deficiencies that the Cincinnati Reds see, any improvement makes a trade more likely.
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Last off-season the Texas Rangers nearly traded for Hamilton. The Los Angeles Dodgers also inquired about him. Neither team made a convincing offer.
This off-season the San Francisco Giants have attempted to acquire Hamilton repeatedly. Everyone across baseball is just waiting for the announcement. By adding Evan Longoria the Giants went all in on the Buster Posey era.
Right now, Steve Duggar is first on the depth chart for the Giants in center field. He isn’t even a true MLB center fielder, yet.
The Giants would lean heavily on 30 year old Gorkys Hernandez in center if the season started today.
The acquisition of Hamilton could also allow the Giants to spend more money on a corner outfielder, such as former Red Jay Bruce or current New York Yankee Jacoby Ellsbury. The Giants had squirreled away enough money to afford Giancarlo Stanton. With Stanton going to the New York Yankees, that opens up numerous options for the Giants.
The Reds have reason to move Hamilton. The Giants have reason to add him. Now one of them is likely to see an improved Hamilton on the field in 2018 thanks to his hard work this offseason.