Cincinnati Reds remain stubborn with batting order

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Even though Billy Hamilton continues to struggle, the Cincinnati Reds leave him batting lead-off.

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton is the best base stealer in baseball.  That seemingly makes him an ideal lead-off batter. Unfortunately, Hamilton is not a good lead-off batter.

Hamilton has a career .298 OBP to go with a .248 batting average.  His career high in runs scored is 85 and games played is 152. The production just doesn’t match the playing time for a lead-off hitter.

This spring Hamilton hasn’t done any better.  He is only batting .178 with an OBP of .288. Among his ten spring hits eight have been singles and none have been home runs.

While it is spring training, there is something to worry about.  The opposition caught Hamilton stealing on both of his stolen base attempts this spring.  His defense continues to shine, but his steals are not there.

Want your voice heard? Join the Blog Red Machine team!

Write for us!

In eighteen spring games Hamilton has struck out twelve times.  He has also walked seven times to go with his two triples. That has led to scoring 10 runs from 52 plate appearances.

So he is walking more and stealing less this spring.  The big outcome is that he is scoring at about the same rate.  It is only spring training, but it shows that OBP is more closely related to runs scored than speed or steals.

The Cincinnati Reds have other options to bat lead-off than Billy Hamilton.

More from Reds News

As soon as Hamilton is removed from the lead-off mix, shortstop Jose Peraza comes to mind.  Peraza, though, is a similar batter to Hamilton. The idea is to find someone with a high OBP ceiling to bat in front of first baseman Joey Votto and third baseman Eugenio Suarez.

Peraza and Hamilton are known quantities. That leaves the other half of the Reds’ line-up.  It’s probably best to exclude catcher Tucker Barnart just because of the wear and tear associated with batting lead-off.

That leaves outfielders Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler, as well as second baseman Scooter Gennett.  Gennett is penciled into the clean-up spot this season, so he is out.

That leaves the two outfielders.

To start the season, Duvall likely makes the most sense, as he is the better base runner.  Both Duvall and Schebler possess high batting averages this spring. They have both spent time working on getting on base consistently.

Next: The Reds should trade Eugenio Suarez

The Reds need to let Hamilton bat lower in the order where his speed is worth more than OBP.  That leaves them with two valid choices for batting lead-off. Hopefully, the Reds make the right decision.