Billy Hamilton of the Reds is one of the most-interesting players in all of baseball. As a minor league player, he made big headlines with his base-stealing prowess. In 2012 alone, he stole a ridiculous 155 bases. He followed that up with swiping 75 in AAA during the 2013 campaign. So we are looking at the next coming of Rickey Henderson, right?
Maybe not so fast. There is just one big problem with Billy Hamilton and getting his game to translate to the major league level – you can’t steal first base. In order to make his speed a real threat, Hamilton will need to find his way on base. If his minor league batting numbers are any indication, that might not be so easy. In AAA, he hit just .256, with a .308 OBP. Neither of those numbers are very good in the major leagues, let alone in AAA against lesser competition. If he is going to be able to you his speed to drive opponents crazy as part of the Reds’ outfield, it is clear that his batting skills will need to improve.
Despite a questionable record at the plate, the Reds made the decision to make Hamilton their leadoff hitter to start the new 2014 season. With speed to burn in the outfield, he can certainly cover some turf on defense. However, the only question that everyone wants an answer to is whether or not Hamilton can carry the load at the top of a major league lineup.
In the very early going, the answer has been a resounding ‘no’. In 13 plate appearances, he has registered one walk and no hits. Additionally, he has six times in those 13 PA’s. For a speed player, putting the ball in play and running hard is a fundamental element of the game. Hamilton has been walking back to the dugout almost as often as he has been sprinting down the first base line.
Should you find some collectibles?
With a young player, it is anybody’s guess where their career will go. That is certainly the case with Hamilton. On the positive side, he is only 23 years old and already in the major leagues. If he can simply improve his hitting and get the ball in play more, he could become a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, his stats in the minor leagues aren’t encouraging when it comes to batting, and his speed is likely to decrease with time. As the years go by and he loses a step or two, there might not be enough left to constitute a major league-quality player.
That said, now might be a good time to pick up a couple Billy Hamilton cards or other collectibles. Since there are so many questions about his game, collectors haven’t taken to him like they do with other, most-established prospects. If Hamilton does blossom into a quality player, there could be great value in his cards. If not, you will at least have a piece that helps you remember one of the most interesting players in recent baseball memory.