Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton should remain on the team

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

With a new skipper on board, there are likely many other changes on the horizon for the Cincinnati Reds this offseason. While not an easy decision, the Reds need to keep Billy Hamilton?

Billy Hamilton was a second-round draft pick signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 and has been the everyday centerfielder since being a called up from Triple-A Louisville in September of 2013. Mostly known for his speed running bases and unbelievable outfield plays Hamilton is, in short, a fun player. Hamilton is also one of the most criticized players.

The criticism of Hamilton has always surrounded his batting average and on-base percentage, which is somewhat understandable. Hamilton doesn’t have a Top 10 batting average like Scooter Gennett or a league-leading on-base percentage like Joey Votto. But he is still slashing .236/.299/.327, which sits just below fellow outfielder Scott Schebler and catcher Tucker Barnhart.

Hamilton’s stats this season break down into 119 hits, 74 runs scored, 16 doubles, 9 triples, 4 home runs, and 29 runs batted in, which are solid numbers and very comparable to other players. Hamilton also has the advantage of being a switch hitter, which is always a handy tool for flexibility against different pitchers.

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Even so, Hamilton is admittedly one of the weaker spots in the Cincinnati Reds’ batting order.  Which leads to the question, is trading Hamilton to make room for another slugger in the lineup worth losing him in the outfield? There is no easy answer to that question, but let’s give it a try.

Fly balls, diving catches, robbed home runs; Hamilton is unquestionably an incredible outfielder. At the end of the 2018 season, his fielding percentage was an impressive .994, with 12 outfield assists, and a personal record 348 putouts. Hamilton’s unmatched speed makes him practically invaluable in the outfield because he is able to cover so much ground.

Hamilton also had an impressive 34 stolen bases, actually a low number for him. It is incredibly rare for him to be picked off or thrown out when stealing. In fact, he was only caught stealing 10 times this season. Hamilton is a pretty uniquely gifted speedster, his talent for stealing bases is one of the primary reason why he has never been intentionally walked in his entire career.

The bottom line is that there is no easy answer. Hamilton would be difficult to replace in the outfield, but there also needs to be more power and consistency in the lineup. Fans tend to land firmly on one side or the other and no matter what the Reds front office decides to do there will be some disappointment.

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Billy Hamilton’s future with the Cincinnati Reds is one of the many things still up in the air this offseason. But, in my opinion, it may be worth it to hold on to his talent for at least one more season. Hamilton enters his final year of arbitration this season.