Cincinnati Reds: Is this the year Billy Hamilton finally wins a Gold Glove?

KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 13: Billy Hamilton #6 of the Cincinnati Reds makes a play against the Kansas City Royals during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium on June 13, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 13: Billy Hamilton #6 of the Cincinnati Reds makes a play against the Kansas City Royals during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium on June 13, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images) /
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Billy Hamilton is up for yet another Rawling’s Gold Glove Award. Is this the year the Cincinnati Reds’ centerfielder takes home the hardware?

It’s been long enough. The wait is over. Billy Hamilton has deserved to win a Gold Glove Award the past two seasons and his time has finally arrived, right? Not so fast. While Reds Country would love nothing more than to see their beloved centerfielder take home the trophy, it may not be in the cards for the Cincinnati Reds speedster.

If you’ve watched just a handful of Cincinnati Reds games over the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen at least one, if not two, brilliant catches by Reds’ centerfielder Billy Hamilton. Time after time Hamilton has wowed the crowd at Great American Ball Park with unbelievable catches. It’s such commonplace anymore that it’s a shock to not see Billy make a phenomenal catch.

Hamilton has some stiff competition this season. Ender Incarte of the Atlanta Braves and Lorenzo Cain of the Milwaukee Brewers are also up for the award. Inciarte is already a two-time winner of the award and is likely Hamilton’s stiffest competition. But, don’t discount Cain who is a fantastic centerfielder in his own right.

Everyone will point to Hamilton’s robbery of Matt Carpenter back in July when Billy leaped up to bring back a would-be home run from atop the centerfield wall as the Catch of the Year. However, for my money, I’ll take the diving catch on Father’s Day weekend which took away a two-bagger from Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli.

That’s just it though Reds fans. In today’s era of Stat Cast and sabermetrics and so forth, sometimes the numbers mean more to the voters than a player’s actual ability on the field. We all watch Hamilton play and think that he’s been robbed of a Gold Glove for the past two years because of what we see on the field. Unfortunately for Billy, that’s not all that matters to the managers who vote on the awards.

For instance, when you look at a statistic like outfield assists, Billy is the clear winner in that department. He leads all National League infielders with 12. Cain is a close second with 11 and Inciarte is well off the pace with only 6. How about errors? Only 2 for Hamilton this season, while Cain had 6 and Inciarte had 5. Even in fielding percentage, Billy is the runaway winner with .994, while Cain (.981) and Inciarte (.987) did not fare so well.

But, in today’s game, with all the information available, those aren’t the only stats that matter. When you look at total zone fielding, a metric that takes into account the number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on fielding plays made, Hamilton scores a -3. Conversely, Inciarte scores an impressive 10 in that category.

In saying that, however, there are some deeper metrics where Hamilton blows away the competition. According to FanGraphs, when given a remote chance (1-10%) to make a defensive play in the outfield, Hamilton did so 23.8% of the time in 2018. Inciarte wasn’t in the same ballpark, making those types of plays only 6.5% of the time. Cain made a respectable 8% of those plays.

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Anyway, we could sit here all day and pick apart different metrics that say this player deserves the award over another, but what it comes down to is how the managers in the NL value their play on the field. Billy Hamilton passes every “eye test” there is. But, in today’s era of baseball, that’s not the only thing that matters. While the Cincinnati Reds faithful would love to see Hamilton take home his first Gold Glove, he’s far from a lock to win the award.