The Cincinnati Reds missed a chance to move Billy Hamilton this off-season.
The Cincinnati Reds may still move Billy Hamilton before the season starts. They just signed fellow speedster Ben Revere to a minor league deal just in case. If the Reds don’t move Hamilton, though, they missed the boat.
The San Francisco Giants have been linked to Hamilton all off-season. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers have also reportedly called on the defensive whiz. Unfortunately, the Reds want more than other teams are offering.
Now the Reds have four outfielders and just three spots to play them. Somehow through all of this Hamilton is still batting lead-off. He has a career .298 OBP and has never scored more than 85 runs in a single season.
By comparison, left fielder Adam Duvall has 85 and 78 runs scored in his first two years as a big league starter. Duvall, though, has mostly batted in the lower half of the order. Yet somehow he is scoring more runs than the Reds’ lead-off hitter.
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As another comparison, Revere, whom the Reds just signed to a minor league deal, scored 84 runs in 2015. That is considered Revere’s best season when he had an OBP of .342. Essentially, the Reds just signed a minor league free agent who is a better lead-off hitter than their current center fielder.
The Cincinnati Reds expect Billy Hamilton to improve.
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The only logical explanation is that the Reds expect Hamilton to improve. How that could happen is unclear. In three big league seasons Hamilton has not gotten noticeably better at bunting or hitting the ball into the ground.
In three spring training games so far this year, Hamilton is 0-for-6. He does have a run scored and a walk. More importantly, though, his OBP is .143.
What makes this so disappointing is that his spring numbers closely resemble his in season stats. Over the course of eight spring trainings, Hamilton has an OBP of .296.
That is just .002 points less than his regular season number.
Hamilton needs to get back to his 2016 approach at the plate. He only struck out 93 times and he walked 36. Those are not the lowest and highest, but is a ratio that led to his career high .321 OBP for a full season.
The Reds keep trying to make Hamilton into something that he is not, a lead-off hitter. By not trading him, the team did a disservice to the other outfielders, as well as Hamilton. To top it off, they signed a minor league free agent that is better being Hamilton than Hamilton has ever been.