Billy Hamilton didn’t make the All-Star team this season. Don’t worry, there will be plenty more opportunities and plenty of All-Star appearances for the Cincinnati Reds centerfielder.
He has emerged as one of the premier defensive outfielders in the league and a fixture at the leadoff spot for a Reds’ team that is only 4 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
We all know what Hamilton does the best — run. His speed kills teams. He has stolen 37 bases so far this year, which is good for second in the National League.
When he gets on base (.312 OBP), the whole stadium knows that he is running, which is why even with his speed, he has been caught stealing a NL-leading 12 times.
He ran all over teams in the minor leagues. He stole 103 bases at Single A Dayton in 2011, 155 bases in 12′ between Single A Advaned Bakersfield and Double A Pensacola and then stole 75 at Triple A Louisville in his final minor league season last year.
He got a late call-up to the Reds last season, playing in 13 games and stealing 13 bases, along with a .368 average.
Things did not start as well this season. He went hitless during the first three games of the season (0-12 1 walk), and didn’t steal his first base until the team’s ninth game of the season.
He’s a guy that can turn routine outs into singles, routine singles into doubles, and he has 5 triples on the season.
He can also turn routine pop ups into sacrifice flies when he’s on third base.
What has been most surprising from him is his power. With his 5 homers this season — which is obviously a career high because he’s still considered a rookie, he has a good chance to top the 6 he hit last year at Triple A, and he still has a whole half season to play.
His speed reminds me of another centerfielder playing in the Central — Andrew McCutchen when he first came into the league in 09′.
Now, McCutchen is the reigning NL MVP and is an all-around five-tool player, so Hamilton is not there yet — at least with the power, but there are plenty of star players that do other things besides hit home runs.
I believe Hamilton can, and will be one of those star players. His defense and speed is second to none. Once he consistently figures out how to hit, he will really be dangerous.
– Khristian Peel
Follow me on Twitter @KhristianPeel