Cincinnati Reds accommodate center fielder Billy Hamilton again

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Despite his inability to carry himself offensively, the Cincinnati Reds continue to start Billy Hamilton in center field.

By batting center fielder Billy Hamilton ninth on Opening Day the Cincinnati Reds said it all.  They don’t have faith in him offensively. When Jesse Winker rested against lefty Gio Gonzalez, the Reds moved Hamilton into the lead-off spot.

Winker is clearly the lead-off batter for the Reds whether he is starting in left field or right field.  The Reds did bump Hamilton up into the eighth spot in the order against the Chicago Cubs when Tyler Mahle started his first game of the season.  That is a little bit better.

Each spot in the batting order is worth about 20 plates appearances over the course of the season in the National League.  That means that the lead-off hitter for the Reds will get about 40 more plate appearances over the course of the season than Joey Votto will hitting third.  It also means that when Hamilton bats ninth, the pitcher’s spot is getting about 20 more plate appearances over the course of the season.

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Early in the game, the Reds are giving up an at-bat a batter earlier than they need to.  They also have the pitcher’s spot higher in the batting order late in the game for pinch hitting.  For that matter it could force the Reds to pinch hit for an effective pitcher earlier in the game as well.

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If the Billy Hamilton doesn’t deserve to bat seventh or higher, then he doesn’t deserve to start for the Cincinnati Reds.  

Hamilton is the best defensive center fielder in the National League.  He may be the best in baseball.  However, there is a limit on how much outfield defense can do.  Nothing seen to date can make up for a batter that the team values as worse than the starting pitcher.

Hamilton really isn’t that bad.  He could bat anywhere fifth through seventh. He could  justify his spot in the batting order with his ability to score once he gets on base.

The Reds just need to let Hamilton play as a speedster wherever he bats in the line-up.

Teams fall in love with having batters act like the position they are in the line-up.  Hamilton, however, may be best suited to bat fifth and bunt at a high rate.  Any time a batter is on first and/or second with less than two outs, Hamilton should bunt.

Next: The Reds start the season with six pitchers out

He should do that no matter where he is in the order.  That way he is accommodating the Reds’ need for his defense instead of the other way around.