Baseball Team Apparel

The Billy Hamilton Experience

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Team Apparel

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 hamiltonAAA, 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.

Pujols and Hamilton – Fading Glory?

Posted on October 15th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Team Apparel, Players

Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton were the two hottest free agents of the 2012 and 2013 free agent classes, respectively. To the surprise of most observers, both of the slugging superstars landed in southern California with mega-deals with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Each year, after the team inked the star player, media members and analysts proclaimed the Angels the favorites in the American League West division. Of course, both years, the Angels fell flat and were nowhere near playoff contention come September. Much of the failure of the team could be attributed to the lackluster performance of both signings – Pujols struggled in his first year and was injured in the second, while Hamilton has had a career worst season in 2013 despite improvement over the last six weeks of the Pujols-Hamilton-Baseball-Cardyear.

Costly Mistakes Thus Far

With countless millions tied up in these two players for many seasons to come, the Angels fortunes seem to be tied to the turnaround of Pujols and Hamilton. While they have a young superstar in Mike Trout, the LA Angels have made such an investment in the two former stars that there seems to be no way for the team to succeed without production from two of the highest paid players in baseball. As the years go by, it seems more and more unlikely that either of these two will ever be the players they once were.

For those considering the value of their collections of Pujols or Hamilton memorabilia, their current struggles can’t be seen as good news. While Albert’s place in the Hall of Fame seems secure, he is doing serious damage to his place in history with a combination of poor production and injuries. Likewise, Hamilton is fading fast and not nearly the commodity he once was. While pieces that represent Pujols in a Cardinals uniform or Hamilton as a Ranger should be safe, both players in Angels garb are not yet as desirable. Of course, if 2014 sees a return to form for one or both of them, that story could quickly change.

Is There Hope in L.A.?

What will it take for them to turn it around? For Pujols, recovering from a painful foot condition is the first step. After that, he needs to be allowed to DH in order to keep his body fresh. If Pujols is able to come into spring training healthy and slot in as the Angels everyday DH, he very well could return to his formidable self. When it comes to Hamilton, he will need a strong start to 2014 to get the fans on his side. When Hamilton got off to a poor start in 2013, after signing a huge contract, he was booed by fans and had trouble turning it around. Getting out quickly next April, which will probably mean laying off some bad pitches, could get the fans in his corner and get the ball rolling for a great year.

For all of the attention that free agent signings get each off season, they often don’t play that large of a role when the season rolls around. Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols were both major moves by the Angels – and neither has paid off. Will they turn it around and live up to their lofty contracts? Only time will tell.