Reds can’t let Hamilton lead off

On Monday in St. Louis, Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton led off the game with a single to right field against Michael Wacha. Or at least it would have been a single, had it been struck by 99.9 percent of hitters who have ever played baseball. Instead, Hamilton never stopped running, and not only did he turn the single into a double, he was almost on second before the cutoff man even received the throw. It was an astounding display of speed, and it shows why Hamilton is considered such a promising player.

Unfortunately, that hit was Hamilton’s first of the season, and was only his second time on base. Add another hit Tuesday night, and Hamilton has bumped his average up to .091, with an .130 on base percentage. Hamilton has yet to score a run. He has yet to steal a base. And while it’s early, the total lack of production from the top of the lineup is a big part of why the Reds have lost six of their first eight, and have scored just 2.86 runs per game, tied with Houston for 26th in MLB.

It’s also a big reason why Joey Votto has only one run driven in. It’s much too soon to discuss sending Hamilton to the minors, but it’s not at all too soon to make an easier change: Cincinnati needs to get him out of the leadoff spot immediately.

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Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times site, and was an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.

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