FG on Fox: Billy Hamilton is Good

Thursday was an ordinary day for Cincinnati center fielder Billy Hamilton, in that it contained some extraordinary things in the Reds’ 4-3 loss in 12 innings at the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Leading off the top of the first, Hamilton dropped a double into shallow left, and a few minutes later he stole third without a throw, putting him in position to score on a sac fly. He wouldn’t reach base again, but in the bottom of the ninth, he did keep things tied, robbing Travis Snider of a possible walk-off, extra-base hit. On the catch, Hamilton managed to leave visible cleat marks on the side of the fence.

The Reds ultimately lost, but the game captured Hamilton in a nutshell. Early in the season, all the talk was about how Hamilton was embarrassing himself at the plate against big-league competition. Some points were arrived at too hastily. Some points were overlooked entirely.

Sure, at the start, Hamilton was dreadful. In the season’s opener, he went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. Below is a swing he actually attempted some weeks later.

Read the rest on FoxSports.com.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


46 Responses to “FG on Fox: Billy Hamilton is Good”

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  1. jerry60555 says:

    Next Ricky Handerson.

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  2. rustydude says:

    Nice GIF’s. I can’t believe how fast this guy is. In those GIF’s it’s like he instantly teleports himself from 1st to 2nd to 3rd to home.

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    • tz says:

      I’d love to see some of those catches on the new MLB play tracker. It looks like he’s not only fast enough to outrun a high fly ball, but he’s getting quick enough jumps to catch soft liners with less hang time.

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  3. AC says:

    I know this is going to read like snark, but I’m honestly confused now.

    Half your articles over the last week or two have been about trusting the projections. A ZIPS/Steamer RoS average puts him, if you round up, at 1.4 WAR the rest of the way, with more than 50% of the season to go, and it’s almost all fielding and base-running.

    “For a few weeks, Hamilton was awful, but they were his first few weeks, and everyone deserves time to make adjustments.”

    Once pitchers start making their adjustments, I expect he’ll look a look more like April Billy Hamilton than June Billy Hamilton.

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    • tz says:

      I think the gist of the article was to trust the projections more than short-term results, because of the small sample size issue. This comes from the historical data behind the projections having more statistical credibility than the recent performance.

      With Hamilton, however, the projections rely on a mix of a moderate amount of minor-league data and a tiny amount of major-league data. So with little credibility in either the projections or the recent performance, we’re left with a “wait-and-see” crapshoot on what he’ll do next.

      The only thing I feel comfortable predicting is that the real “early 20’s” version of Billy Hamilton is somewhere between the April Billy Hamilton and the June Billy Hamilton. Anything more is mere speculation.

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    • Matthew says:

      “His defensive numbers are probably going to settle down, and he doesn’t project to be a league-average hitter the rest of the way.”

      “The reality is that Hamilton is probably not a league-average hitter. The likelihood is that his current numbers are a bit over his head.”

      “It’s highly unlikely that Hamilton will actually be a five-win player over the course of a full season.”

      Sounds pretty consistent to me.

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    • balanced dude says:

      He was incorporation projections WITH new data. The projections are not great but they have to be taken with a big grain of salt considering he is probably better on offense and defense than we thought.

      He hasn’t played CF that long, mind you. And he hasn’t even been a switch hitter that long. Improvements in those facets of his game can’t be accounted for in projections and Dave Cameron is taking a middle position.

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    • bdhudson says:

      To be fair, Sullivan wrote the piece, not DC.

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    • St.PaulPaul says:

      Sullivan and Cameron are not the same guy. Different writers sometimes have different views, even on the same site.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      ZiPS has him putting up a 90 wRC+ the rest of the way, so saying that there has been a real improvement is absolutely in line with “trusting the projections.”

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    • Innocuous Observation says:

      The commenters around here are getting increasingly hostile towards any criticism directed at the authors.

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      • he got the author wrong

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        • Innocuous Observation says:

          So you don’t subscribe to the “Trust the Projections” line that Dave has written about? If not, why not? That sounds like an interesting article.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          What he’s saying about Hamilton is right in line with the ZiPS projections!

          Jesus Christ.

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        • Innocuous Observation says:

          It would be nice if we could all disagree in a more civil manner!

          Thor.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          What is there to disagree about?

          Let’s go through the facts:

          Step One:

          Jeff thinks Hamilton is good for a ~90 wRC+ the rest of the year.

          ZiPS thinks Hamilton is good for a ~90 wRC+ the rest of the year.

          Therefore, Jeff doesn’t come into any conflict with the projections.

          Step Two:

          You think that this article is proof that Jeff doesn’t subscribe to Dave’s “Trust the Projections” line.

          As shown above, he is, in fact, trusting the ZiPS projections by expecting a ~90 wRC+ for the rest of the year.

          Conclusion:

          There’s no disagreement. You are objectively wrong. QED.

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  4. Ctownboy says:

    First, ANY comparison to Ricky/Rickey/Rikki (or any other variation) Henderson is a joke. Henderson had power and also could draw walks. Sure, Hamilton has four home runs and a .400 slugging percentage to date but two of those home runs were hit at Great American Small Park and two were hit at Milwaukee. So, all four were hit at hitter friendly parks.

    Going forward, I am sure opposing teams will want Hamilton to continue to hit fly balls instead of line drives and ground balls.

    As far as drawing walks go, Hamilton barely had a .300 OBP in the minors so expecting him to increase his walk rate in the majors is a leap of faith.

    Finally, since Hamilton’s ONLY tool seems to be his speed, wait and watch what happens as the year progresses and his legs get tired. Or, worse yet, watch what happens when he sprains an ankle or pulls a groin or a hamstring.

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    • bdhudson says:

      You made sense until the end there. Let’s see how good Trout is when his neck explodes! I wonder if Miggy will still be able to hit with one arm!

      No sense penalizing guys for injuries they’ve never had.

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      • Prince Fielder says:

        Neck explosions suck!

        Though, having a hole in your neck does mean you can eat what you want…

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      • Ctownboy says:

        My point was, most other major league players can get by even if they have suffered an injury because they are NOT so reliant on only ONE tool.

        Yadi Molina is slow. Miguel Cabrera is slow. But they both are still All Star and MVP candiates and that is because they can do OTHER things on the ball field. If Mike Trout loses his speed he is still going to be a good ball player because he can do other things.

        With Hamilton, his WHOLE game is based on speed. Right now, hsi great June is predicated on an unsustainable BABIP. Part of that high BABIP is based on pitchers being stupid. As in, when Hamilton is batting left handed, they throw off speed and breaking pitches either outside or low and away. For the majority of hitters that is great because you WANT them to hit a weak ground ball to the right side of the infield. For Hamilton, that is just a way to give him an infield single.

        ALL players get tired as the season wears on and even Henderson himself said stealing bases gets harder alter into the season because of the wear and tear the body gets from diving back into first base on pick off attempts and sliding into bases on steal attempts. Add to that that Hamilton plays center field and has to use his legs to cover the ground out there and Hamilton WILL get tired as teh season goes on.

        As he gets tired, he wont be as fast and the likelihood of injury increases. Either way, his speed will decrease and the level of hi game will also go down.

        Without home run power or plate discipline to draw walks (BOTH of which Henderson had) Hamilton will not be as valuable as he is now.

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        • St.PaulPaul says:

          His BABIP for this season is .324. That is in no way unsustainable. In fact, ZIPs projects him to raise that BABIP over the rest of the season.

          There seems to be an idea among many that speed isn’t a “real” skill. The first question asked is always, “but what happens when the speed goes away?” The ignored part is that slower guys lose speed too, just as fast (probably faster) than the fast guys. Do you have a link to an article that suggests that fast guys are inferior in the second half to slow guys? That seems to be counter-intuitive to me but I’d love to see the data.

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        • bdhudson says:

          “BABIP based on pitchers being stupid”

          That, sir, is irrefutable statistical analysis.

          And sure, fatigue does come into player later in seasons, I think we can all say that’s clear. Do we know how that will affect Hamilton? No, and we can’t until we see it happen. The kid could touch low double digit homers in a good year, has shown decent plate discipline in the low minors, and is fast enough to hide a lot of flaws.

          Also, I love Miggy, but he really isn’t “good” at other things on the field that don’t involve batting. He’s pretty slow and not exactly Andrelton Simmons in the field. One 80 grade tool can carry you for quite a while when you’re even a little bit competent in other areas.

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    • bdhudson says:

      There’s also a belief that speed ages better than other tools, so he would have that going for him as well.

      http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/5/31/2199146/hitter-aging-curves

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-slow-decline-of-speedy-outfielders/

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    • tz says:

      A .350 minor league OBP barely above .300??

      If you mean his .308 OBP in 2013 in AAA, does that mean we should ignore the .410 OBP and 8 walks he drew in 2012 with pitchers probably not wanting to give him a free pass because of all the publicity from him chasing the freaking all-time organized baseball stolen-base record.

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    • jerry60555 says:

      Not a joke. You are really a joke.

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    • John C says:

      No, he’s not Rickey Henderson, but he might be Willie Wilson, who was a very good player for several years, and if Hamilton’s a student of the game, which Wilson was not, then that would him a better Willie Wilson. And that would be a heck of a ballplayer.

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      • tz says:

        This.

        Wilson’s a great target for Hamilton – 80 career runs each for fielding and baserunning with a 94 wRC+. I really think Hamilton’s upside is higher than just a Vince Coleman (or a Herb Washington), and Willie Wilson sounds just about right.

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    • Warning Track Power says:

      Of his four home runs Hit Tracker Online averages their # of parks at 24. I read that the average last year was 23 or thereabout. While one of his homers would have only left 10 parks, the others all would have left at least 29 parks. They are legit homers not merely because they left the yard but because they would have left most yards.

      As for his minor league numbers, Hamilton generally showed a marked improvement when repeating a level, and a good walk rate in 2012. He took some his fantastic success at A+ to AA with him that year. Then he played in AAA and struggled in 2013. Then he moved up to the majors. You can’t look at his minors career as a whole without noting that he demonstrated an ability to improve and that at this time two years ago he was in A+. Regardless of what he did at a particular level he went from A+ to AA to AAA to MLB in 18 months.

      I find the projection systems that we have to be very useful but I think that it is more likely with Hamilton than with most other players that projection systems aren’t going to be something you can rely upon him to preach a gospel about his ceiling or ability this early, especially since he’s a skinny guy who can probably put on a little more muscle without losing a step.

      Also, let’s not forget that Hamilton has to learn a new position, and from what I have read, to switch-hit. I’ve also heard rumblings that the Reds were encouraging him to sacrifice somewhat attempts at being a true hitter in hopes of Baltimore Chopping and bunting and then using his speed.

      Your talk about him getting injured is rubbish because one’s ability and performance being hampered by injury is a risk shared by all and not at all unique to Hamilton.

      Anyway, my point is not that he’s going to be an all-star caliber player. But he may be. He’s done a heck of a lot in a short period and personally I’m not going to let someone stick the Vince Coleman ceiling on him because we don’t know if that’s his ceiling yet.

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  5. Bally Humilton says:

    Fluke month for sure, but Trout has had only one month in his career where he had a .939 OPS and 9 SB’s.

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  6. mlmorgen says:

    He is the reincarnation of Omar Moreno.

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    • tz says:

      Actually not a bad comp for a one standard-deviation downside for Hamilton, just like Willie Wilson would be a one standard-deviation upside for him.

      For both these guys, they gave great value in the field and on the basepaths, at least in their 20’s. The Reds might be wise to offer Hamilton a Starling Marte type deal the next time he goes into a hitting slump. If Omar Moreno is a reasonable downside, that’s probably a safe offer.

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  7. Antonio Bananas says:

    Plus he’s like 5-0 vs Yadi Molina. So that’s always nice.

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