Cincinnati Reds 2018 season awards: Defensive Player of the Year

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 03: Billy Hamilton #6 of the Cincinnati Reds leaps to catch the ball in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Great American Ball Park on July 3, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 03: Billy Hamilton #6 of the Cincinnati Reds leaps to catch the ball in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Great American Ball Park on July 3, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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As we pass out the Cincinnati Reds 2018 season awards, today we focus on the Defensive Player of the Year. Is there any doubt that the award goes to Billy Hamilton?

Blog Red Machine is handing out awards for the 2018 season. Today we’re passing out the Defensive Player of the Year. There’s only one player on the Cincinnati Reds deserving of this award and that’s Billy Hamilton.

The Reds’ oft-criticized center fielder may be much maligned at the plate, but there is no denying his amazing ability in the outfield. Billy Hamilton is arguably the best center fielder in all of baseball.

Not only does his speed allow him to reach balls that could be doubles off the wall or even home runs over the wall, but he has a cannon for an arm and led National League in outfield assists. Considering the Reds operated with an outfield platoon for the majority of the season, that’s pretty impressive.

If you’re looking for examples of Billy’s excellence in the field, take a look back at how he robbed Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals on July 13th. Carpenter hit the ball a ton to the largest part of Busch Stadium, and as Hamilton was backing up he leaped over the wall to bring back a would-be home run. That left Carpenter with one less home run on the season, and he lost the NL battle with Nolan Arenado for the most round-trippers in the National League.

Need another example of Billy Hamilton’s ability in the outfield? How about the catch he made in Pittsburgh on Father’s Day weekend. In the bottom of the first inning, Francisco Cervelli sent a rocket off Anthony DeSclafani into deep right-center field and Hamilton laid out to make a diving catch.

Statcast gave Hamilton a 2% to catch that ball. I’m no expert, but I doubt you’ll find a smaller catch probability than that on a ball that’s actually caught. Billy covered 83 feet in 4.3 seconds to rob Cervelli of a would be double.

Critics of Billy Hamilton will point to his poor production at the plate. After all, Hamilton only hit .236 with a .299 OBP. He also only stole 34 bases, the lowest mark of his career in the Queen City.

Hamilton, however, had 12 outfield assists and only 2 errors on the season. His .994 fielding percentage is his best since 2015, a year in which he gobbled up every ball in sight.

Three biggest reasons 2018 was a down year. Next

Billy Hamilton’s deficiencies at the plate are well documented. But, his athletic ability in the field is unmatched by anyone in baseball. Here’s hoping that Billy earns his first Gold Glove this season. Congratulations to Billy Hamilton.