[Doug Gray is returning from a trip to scout the Reds minor league teams in Florida. He will publish his usual Tuesday column on Friday.]

Billy Hamilton has had a rough sophomore season in the box. He is hitting .223/.265/.283 on the year partially due to a decline in both his power (ISO down 42% from last year) and his BABIP (a 14% decline). All in all, his wRC+ sits at 48, meaning he is hitting 52% worse than league average, or that the league average is more than 100% better than Hamilton’s production. Out of 158 qualified hitters, Hamilton’s on base percentage ranks 152. Due to his defensive range and speed on the base paths, however, Hamilton has created positive value for the Reds both this year (1.4 fWAR) and last year (3.6 fWAR).

The Reds have a dilemma: the team benefits from Hamilton’s defensive prowess in the field but cannot bat him tenth. This past offseason the Reds encouraged Billy to become a better bunter and set him up with  Louisville manager Delino DeShields to work on his craft. The logic was sound: if Hamilton could become a better bunter he could improve his on base percentage without having to improve his overall hitting ability. Furthermore, as Hamilton improves as a bunter he will cause the defenders to pull in at the corners and create large gaps in the infield.

The result has been a spectacular flop. Last year Hamilton bunted 52 times and converted 17 of them (a 32.7% success rate). This year Hamilton leads the league with 36 bunt attempts and has a 30.6% success rate. Of the 43 players with 5 or more bunts this season, Hamilton’s success rate ranks well below the the group average (36.8%).

If the Hamilton bunting experiment continues until the end of the season, expect to see him lay down 51.6 total bunts this year and he will convert 5 of the remaining bunts for hits. While this matches his 2014 total, because he has been batting lower in the order, Hamilton will reach this mark in almost fifty fewer plate appearances.

Hamilton isn’t becoming a better bunter. On the list the most prolific bunters since the year 2000, Hamilton’s 2014 total ranks 13th, but his success rate does not hold up with the others in the group. If you restrict this to the top twenty most prolific bunters since the new millennium, the median success rate is 39.3% and the average is 37.3%.

How can the median be so much higher than the mean? The answer is Juan Pierre. In 2007, the Dodgers allowed him to lay down 66 bunts and he converted on only 28.8% of them. Not satisfied with this showing of futility, the 2010 White Sox gave Pierre the green light for 55 bunts, watching him convert these attempts at an astonishing 21.8% of the time.

But let’s say Hamilton does improve his bunting skills and is able to raise his 32.4% success rate to something higher, perhaps 42.9% or even 47.7%. Those would be much higher than the average for even the best of bunters. Those numbers, in fact, would match the best conversion rate of any bunter with more than 50 attempts in a season since 2000. Hamilton saved 22 runs in center field and, pairing that with a 42.9% success rate would make him …

A worse-OBP version of Willy Taveras, circa 2006. The numbers speak for themselves:

Taveras, 2006 Hamilton, 2015
BB% 5.80% 5.40%
K% 15.00% 16.30%
O-Swing% 19.90% 30.00%
Contact% 88.50% 83.60%
SwStr% 5.00% 7.40%
DRS 22.3 18.3 (projected)
OBP 0.330 0.265
fWAR 3.3 2.4 (projected)

I know that “Willy Taveras” is a four-letter word around Reds country. But it is important to point out that Taveras created lots of value — 5.5 WAR — in his first two years as a full-time major leaguer almost entirely via his legs. Taveras was a defensive star playing the most important defensive position in the game.

It is impossible to avoid the comparisons: In 2006 Taveras was 23 and completed his second year as a full time starter. In Hamilton’s second year, he is 24. In their first two years, both had incredible speed, and despite struggles at the plate both were able to create positive value due to base running and defense. Their DRS are almost identical.

In fact, if you wanted to make a case that these players were dissimilar, the easiest argument to make would claim that Taveras was the better hitter. That is frightening.

The tragedy is that speed is a gift for the young. In 2006, Taveras was 23 years old. Age was brutal to Taveras: after compiling 5.5 fWAR in only two seasons, he would never again break the 1.0 fWAR mark. The decline was swift and decisive: 2.2 fWAR (2005), 3.3 (2006), 0.9 (2007), -0.2 (2008).

At the end of 2008, Colorado released Taveras. Based on a BABIP-inflated 2007 batting average (.327 AVG/ .370 BABIP) and 68 stolen bases in 2008, Walt Jocketty signed Taveras as a free agent to a 2-year, $6.25 million contract. The Reds unloaded Taveras to the Oakland A’s in a swap of bad contracts. The A’s released Taveras 8 days later. Other than 37 at bats for the Nationals, Taveras never played major league baseball again.

There are some important differences between these two: Hamilton is both faster and a better baserunner than Taveras. Due to this, his specialized talent is higher than what Taveras offered. Billy Hamilton, however, will be 25 before the end of the season and his defensive numbers are already starting to decline. Is this a sign of things to come? Or is he just having a down year? It is unclear.

As Reds fans, we are pulling for Billy Hamilton to figure it out, but Willy Taveras is a cautionary tale that players only have so long in the show until their skills start to decline.

And for players given the gift of swift, Father Time seems to give less than most.

80 Responses

  1. joe buck

    Its time to sent Billy down to the minors, he needs to stay there until he learns to hit.

    • jdx19

      What is special about the minors? Why can’t he learn to hit in the majors? Are the coaches in the minors more adept than the coaches in the majors? Is the competition stronger in the minors than in the majors?

      The Reds aren’t winning anything this year… let Billy learn in the majors, but something needs to change. His swing, in fact. For the weakest man in the league, Billy needs to modify his swing so he doesn’t even have the slightest hint of an uppercut. If the coaches up here can’t see that, then perhaps he should go to the minors, or wherever they can teach him how to not swing like a power hitter.

      • VaRedsFan

        All of this JDX…modify that swing…send him some Dee Gordon videos. His swing is all arms.

      • lwblogger2

        He has a ridiculously long swing and isn’t direct to the ball. He doesn’t slash or stay inside the ball. It’s an ugly swing. His feet are a mess too. I would agree with everything you are saying here.

      • msanmoore

        Give him one of those 15″ souvenir bats to start and let him work up from there … 🙂

      • msanmoore

        +1,295 … he’ll learn far more against MLB pitching and from guys like Billy Hatcher (assuming he’ll listen and adjust).

      • Carl Sayre

        Him trying to learn to hit in the majors doesn’t get his attention. Trying to learn to hit in the minors will wake him up. No I am not being unreasonable if he were trying and couldn’t I might think ok PR or defensive replacement late in a game. He has done NOTHING to attempt to change his approach. He still flails and bails and uppercuts 90 percent of balls he does make contact with. I am completely convinced his lack of improvement is an attitude more that lack of ability.

    • azredsfan

      Who would the Reds play in CF? Skip Shoemaker? Who? Let him work with the ML coaches and will have to live with the growing pains. Next year will also be a challenge.

  2. joe buck

    Yorman Rodriguez would be aa better option instead of hamilton.

    • jdx19

      Based on what? Would Yorman put up 2.0 WAR?

  3. Tom Gray

    You might consider comparing Davey Concepcion to Billy Hamilton.

    DC struggled with hitting his first 3 years as a Red. So much so that Woody Woodward shared SS with him those 3 years.

    Reds hitting coach Ted Kluzewski (sp?) worked with DC until finally (in 1973) he started hitting much better.

    Hamilton hit well at every level of MiLB until he got to AAA where he struggled.

    BH is much better at SB than DC was and somewhat comparable on defense.

      • gaffer

        Both of those players had upper body strength and actually could hit the ball when they made contact. How is Billy supposed to magically hit better when his problem is not “learning to hit the curveball” or “feeling pitchers out” but is entirely physical?

      • Tom Gray

        It ain’t magic. A good hitting coach instructs him how to improve. Klu did that with Davey, who hit barely above Mendoza line (.200) in 1971 and 1972.

        Don Long. Enough said. Selection of good coaches is a key aspect of being a good manager.

        Bryan Price. You take it from there.

    • Bob Smith

      OK speaking of Each bow is he not in the hall of fame his stats are better than Ozzie’s. On the Billy Hamilton problem take away the switch hitting aspect and you will see a much better bitter.

      • CP

        Ozzie Smith had 6 seasons where he had 5+ WAR. Davey had 1. Although Ozzie had slightly less power than Davey, but he also walked more, struck out half as much, and stole twice as many bases, He was also a higher rated defender if you believe in defensive metrics.

    • gaffer

      BP was dumped based on those numbers BTW. Also, BP was a star hitter in the minors and was played 2-3 days a week when he came up (got hurt too).

      • Tom Gray

        BH hit well (if not star level) in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 at R, A, A+ and AA levels. Not quite so well in 2013 at AAA level.

        Decent (not great) in 2014 at MLB level. Sophomore Slump in 2015.

        Davey Concepcion was skinny like BH. He hit .260 as Reds rookie, then .205 and .209 the next 2 years with Reds. Davey also hit well at most MiLB with Reds.

      • CP

        In 2011, I was at a Dayton Dragons game when B-Ham had 3 hits. Not a single ball left the IF. Minor league ballplayers in A and A+ are not competent fielders. Billy Hamilton’s unique skillset took advantage of minor league flaws.

      • ohiojimw

        Excellent point about minor league fielders (and playing surfaces) versus MLB conditions and players.

        Dave Concepcion either did work in a gym or filled out naturally (or both). And among other things, Klu taught DC how to use his entire frame to develop positive leverage with his bat. Also while there is always a lot of mention of how outstanding pitching staffs seem to feed on each other in terms of guys seeing what the other guys do that works well and adapting it to their game, I don’t think it gets much notice that the same probably is true of hitters; and DC was surrounded by 4 or 5 hall of fame quality hitters he could learn from.

      • Tom Gray

        Good points by both posters above.

        Every one of those HOF hitters credits Big Klu (at least in part) for making them as good (hitters) as they were.

        Klu helped Concepcion and later Geronimo become good MLB hitters.

  4. cory (@thecvail)

    it’s also important to note that the offensive environment has changed A LOT from 2006 to 2015.
    Runs per game is down from 4.86 to 4.14.
    Slash line went from .269/.337/.432 to .253/.315/.399

  5. sultanofswaff

    Great article.

    Unless we trade some pitching for hitting, Billy will likely be the center fielder next season as well. We know this because even after Cozart’s godawful 2014 season, he was handed the starting job on a silver platter. YRod will have to hit like the Bambino in order to get a chance. That said, with production from Mesoraco and league average production from LF, it may not matter.

    • Tom Gray

      And yet, Cozart had good HR and RBI numbers in 53 games in 2015 until his injury.

      Cozart has 5 years MLB experience. Averages ABOUT 15 HR, 60 RBI, .260 BA on a 162 G projected basis. Decent for SS not great.

      • Carl Sayre

        I am sorry comparing a speedy CF defensive play to a SS defensive play is apples to oranges. BH defensive prowess is speed he has an average to sub par arm in the outfield and while Cozarts bat leaves a lot to be desired prior to this injury he was a top 5 SS defensively. I am not ready to give up on BH because speed doesn’t slump but you can’t steal first. IMO someone needs to get his attention he isn’t listening. Let’s see he has been in the Majors 2 years and his manager has been…………..oh nevermind. Folks Price may be a fine baseball man but he couldn’t inspire a horse to drink.

    • CP

      I don’t think Y-Rod needs to hit like Bambino, but he probably needs to hit better than he has his entire minor league career. The guy hasn’t earned anything at this point.

  6. Tony

    It would be correct to say the league is hitting 108% better than Hamilton (i.e. 100 is 108% better than 48), or Hamilton is hitting 52% worse than the league (i.e. 48 is 52% worse than 100). A player hitting 52% better than Hamilton would have a wRC+ of 73, which would still be pretty awful, and would only move Hamilton from #155 to #147, out of 156 qualified hitters per fangraphs.

  7. CP

    I’m curious how we can make this statement: “Billy Hamilton, however, will be 25 before the end of the season and his defensive numbers are already starting to decline. Is this a sign of things to come? Or is he just having a down year?”

    I don’t think we can state this with any certainty based on 1.5 years worth of defensive data. I’ve always been skeptical of B-Ham’s value, but this seems a little over the top. .

    • lwblogger2

      I agree. I’m not sold on defensive metrics anyway and tend to think UZR/150 is about the best. All defensive metrics tend to do better as the sample size increases and tend to reflect rather or not, as far as across different metrics, the metrics agree with each other (relatively). 1.5 years of data just isn’t enough to go on.

  8. seat101

    Great article. Thanks!

    Last year, I thought the second half of the season that Billy was tired. I fully expected him to have a full season this year like the first half of last year.not for the first time, I was wrong.

    Whether through serendipity or skill, Brian Price made the right choice to have Zach start at shortstop at the beginning of the season.

    I do think the fact that there was competition goosed Zack a bit. I think the same will probably happen next spring for Billy.

  9. WVRedlegs

    I chuckled when you noted that Delino DeShields had tutored BHam this winter on the finer techniques of bunting. I’ve seen two Tech-Talks on the pre-game shows now with DeShields explaining how to bunt. Oh my, is he a bad teacher. He might be a good minor league manager and good overall person, but DeShields is a lousy, lousy teacher. Maybe he was nervous for the TV cameras or something, but after watching the first one, I felt extremely bad for BHam. After the second one, I just threw up my hands and blurted out loud, ‘No freakin (edited version) wonder.’ The guy is brutal. If the Reds are going to have BHam bunting, he needs a much better tutor/mentor/instructor.

    • VaRedsFan

      Wow..thanks for that input. I never knew, I just assumed DD would make a competent teacher

    • CP

      Likely just nerves. Talking into a camera is hard and outside a lot of these guys’ comfort zones. I don’t like DeShields’ very traditional managing style, but he has systematically worked his way through the Reds system. Managing isn’t necessarily teaching, but unless you are questioning the content he was pushing, I don’t see how you blame the teacher from your spot on the couch.

      • lwblogger2

        It’s hard. I can often tell a player, especially a catcher what he’s doing wrong but I often can’t show him or explain to him how to correct it. It’s frustrating for the teacher and the pupil.

      • WVRedlegs

        CP, I invite you to go watch the videos sometime. FSO must have the Tech Talks on an archive. There are two of them. They are each just a few minutes long. Remember that these are filmed mostly during spring training, when instructing is at a high level. And remember that these Tech Talks are geared mostly towards the 8-18 age group. He is asked to convey some fundamental bunting tips to the audience. It is very awkward, and little to no fundamental information was given. And bunting is all about fundamentals and proper technique. If BHam was subjected to this for a few weeks this past winter, then it is of no wonder why he hasn’t improved from last season.
        Please go look at the videos and see for yourself. Or if somebody could post a link to them, that would be greatly appreciated, then everybody could see it for themselves.
        And then compare it to Maury Wills teaching.

        You be the judge.

      • reaganspad

        I agree that Billy is a lousy bunter. He constantly is dropping the bat head.

        When the pitcher is on first base, and there have been a few of those in the past month, there is no way that Billy should be trying to drag bunt. He needs to get the bunt down, and they either take the out at 2nd or throw him out at first. He has blown each of these opportunities by trying to drag. completely unbelievable.

        I can bunt better than Billy Hamilton, and I have not attempted a bunt in 40 years.

        Bat head up, catch the ball on the bat. Of course I would be thrown out each time but I can get a bunt down successfully

        Oh for a Norris Hopper. that is who should be teaching Billy

  10. Michael J Hampton

    Last year when Billy first came up, I was surprised at the power he showed. But, now, it seems he doesn’t hit anything hard, anymore. I’m not sure what the numbers are on how hard he hits the ball, although the 42% drop in ISO is pretty telling. But it sure seems to me that he doesn’t hit hard ground balls or fly balls and even the line drives he does hit are for the most part ‘soft” line drives. Obviously he hits the ball in the air way too much, but it seems he just doesn’t hit the ball hard. Infielders play right on top of Billy and even when he does hit a ground ball, they are able to field balls hit to their side because they just aren’t hit hard.

    I’m the last one to give advice on hitting, I was a terrible hitter even at softball. However, when my cousin’s grandson was younger, I took him to all of his practices and games all the way through high school. I remember once they brought in a batting instructor to help them work on hitting with more power. One thing he stressed was “swinging through the ball”, “driving through the ball”, “not letting the ball stop your bat”, and “continuing the swing to have a good follow through”. Billy’s game is so tied up in his speed, I wonder if his mind is so set on running that he isn’t finishing his swing, that he is running before he finishes his swing. I know that it has been commented on that even on his bunt attempts there are many times he is running out of the box even before he gets the bunt down. Maybe he needs to concentrate more on hitting fundamentals before he gets in run mode.

    I don’t know, I wish it was something that simple and he could fix it. If he could just start driving the ball past or through the infielders and hit a few hard balls in the gaps, it could really open up his game so much.

    • jdx19

      Billy Hamilton goes about 150lbs. He’s not a strong man. He can’t hit the ball hard, much like you and I can’t hit the ball hard.

      I don’t think there is anything coaching can change about that.

      • Michael J Hampton

        Hitting the ball hard is a relative term. I don’t expect him to hit the ball as hard as Adam Dunn did. However, I do believe he was hitting the ball harder last year during the first half of the season than he has anytime this season. The 42% drop in ISO from last year to this year may provide some evidence of that. During the first half of last season he hit 4 balls over the fence which surprised me at the time. I believe he can (and has) hit the ball harder than he is hitting it this season for whatever reason. Poor technique, poor fundamentals, could cause the reduction in hard hit balls.

      • Carl Sayre

        I have been a baseball fan for a long time and the players have not always been 6′ 2″ 220 pound monsters. Yes the size and strength are part of it but a small man who makes solid contact can drive the ball. BH is exceptionally small but IMHO even at his size if he hits solidly he can get it out of the infield. His groundballs almost never get out of the infield and his flyballs are exactly that he uppercuts into a fly out.

      • Carl Sayre

        I don’t normally reply to my own post but I had to do some checking. BH is ^ foot tall and 160 according to the media guide. (not to sure about those numbers) Rod Carew was listed at 6 foot 170 so BH is 10 pounds off Carew I don’t know about you but if he could approach those numbers I would be an estatic Reds fan.

      • Michael J Hampton

        Exactly. Joe Morgan was a small fast man, though well muscled, and he could smack the ball hard. Billy looks to me to have “wiry” strength. I think his technique is poor and wondered if his focus on speeding to first base affects his batting technique.

  11. Art Wayne Austin

    Taveras was a high priced flop who was signed to fill a great need. Hamilton should be allowed to bat right handed all the time if he is to master the art of bunting.

  12. IndyRedMan

    His defensive numbers are already starting to decline.

    Says who? I don’t know what data these bean counters are using but I’m guessing they don’t watch Reds game almost every night. He’s all over the place and his arm is surprisingly good as well. I saw McCutcheon turn a single into a triple the other day and I have yet to see Hamilton misplay a ball like that. He just outruns the baseball normally. Hitting is another story….he needs a trainer more than anything. Load up on the protein and put on 10-15 lbs of muscle.

    • Steve Mancuso

      The people doing defense metrics review every play of every game. They watch in slow motion, carefully looking at each play he makes. They plot the trajectory and direction of each ball. They measure the distance Hamilton covers. You don’t want to start a contest of who pays more attention, the professional metrics people or the at home fan. No contest.

      No one is saying Hamilton is bad on defense. The advanced stats show he isn’t having as good of a year in the field this year compared to last year. Both years were quite good.

      BTW, the stat people are all over McCutchen’s defensive deficiencies.

      • ncmountie1

        Steve–Would never profess to understand the all the metrics, but just looking at this it certainly looks comparable to 2014. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hamilbi02-field.shtml
        Zero Errors ytd vs. 2 in 14. Fielding % is higher by 2 pts., etc.
        What exactly are they looking at? At the least it is exaggeration to say his defense is in decline isn’t it?

      • Steve Mancuso

        Range and arm are more important components of fielding than errors, at least for good defenders. Comparing the plays last year with the plays this year (he is well above average in both years), Hamilton’s arm has been worse this year (clearly true) and his range has been less. One of the gold standards for defense is “Defensive Runs Saved” where they look at every single play carefully. Hamilton saved 14 runs last year and only 4 so far this year. Total Zone Fielding has similar results. Billy saved 14 runs last year and 2 runs this year. Inside Edge fielding stats looks at each play and assigns a probability for whether a defender can make a certain play. There is a category of “Remote” which means the player has a 1-10% of making the play. Hamilton made 4 out of 13 plays classified as Remote last year. This year, he has made 1 out 13 Remote plays.

        The purpose of Mike’s article, as I read it, is to float the notion that the falling defensive stats *may* be a sign of decline. They were at that age for Willy Taveras.

      • ncmountie1

        Thanks Steve. I guess the only question I would have is-isn’t it possible “Defensive Runs Saved” is a matter of opportunity too? Not sure how that is measured. Of course 14 is full year & 4 is 3/4 so it’s possible that could improve some but not to 14. Do you know what the “remote” stat league OF average is? 2014 he would’ve had 30% average making those plays; this season down to 7% with chance to go up/down still. Just wondering if those are at or above league averages?
        Thnx. Interesting stuff.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Yes, that’s a good point. DRS is definitely a matter of opportunity based on the number of balls hit to a fielder. It also creates dynamic effects – for example, if Billy Hamilton catches a ball in right center field that Jay Bruce also could have caught (difficult play for either) then Hamilton gets credit and Bruce doesn’t or vice versa.

        My guess on the average for Remote it would be about 5% since they judge the play should be made 1-10% of the time.

      • CP

        Look at that sample size we’re talking about. 14 total “remote” plays and we’re attempting to draw conclusions from it.

        Ignoring that Hamilton has the highest percentage of successful “remote plays” since 2014….

        Some human being is making the distinction between a “remote” play (1-10%), and an unlikely catch (10-40%). I wish we could see the difference between an 11% catch and a 9% play. Or the distribution of opportunities between 1-10% (were all of B-Ham’s chances 3% or less?).

      • lwblogger2

        @Steve – Inside Edge’s fielding metrics are really cool. I’d love to sit in with them and see exactly how their process works.

      • IndyRedMan

        Who are these people and who pays them for nonsense? Probably the same people that said Cozart was unlucky because his batting avg w/balls in play was low. No…he had a flawed uppercut swing and that’s the reason. Wouldn’t hit .300 last year if he never K’d

      • IndyRedMan

        They also say how bad Byrd is but he’s a wizard out there compared to Dunn and Gomes. You couldn’t make it 8 pitches w/Dunn or Gomes in CF. I know he has a noodle arm and he’s old but c’mon?

      • preacherj

        “The people doing defense metrics review every play of every game. They watch in slow motion, carefully looking at each play he makes. They plot the trajectory and direction of each ball. They measure the distance Hamilton covers. ” Sounds a lot like scouting to me. Maybe that’s why there is more validity to defensive stats than before. I still think observation is the best tool when it comes to defense, hands down.

  13. VaRedsFan

    So a .324 avg when bunting is bad? Talk about standards.

    So his defense is declining??? Have you been watching the games???

  14. concepcion13

    Something about the “giving up switch hitting” idea that Billy brought up is bugging the bejeebus out of me: the idea that he will wait until the off-season to “re-learn” how to hit only batting right right-handed. Why in God’s name wait? The team is hopelessly out of the race; he’s batting 9th most of the time; and he’s been awful with the stick. Learn how to bat only RH now, against MLB pitching, so that you’ll have an idea how it will go next year – whereas if you wait, you won’t know until the games start to count again next April. It’s not like he can get much worse this year anyway. Is waiting Billy’s idea, or what the coaches have been telling him to do? I really like Billy, but this one puzzles me.

    • ncmountie1

      Bob Smith raised the idea too of giving up the switch hitting. I looked on Baseball Reference to see if they had stats from Left to Right handed hitting–if they did I couldn’t find them. Does anyone know how the BA breaks out between two sides? Is right that much better now?

      • brmreturns

        Last night’s tv broadcast showed the splits :

        LH : .213AVE
        RH : .235AVE

        Not like he’s killing the ball from either side.

      • ncmountie1

        Thnx. Agree, if he could just get the RH up to .250 range would be improvement.

  15. Nick Kirby

    Nice article Mike. I think some of you guys need to take this article for what it is, which is cautionary tale of Willy Taveras, and some eerily similarities to Billy Hamilton. That is not a Billy Hamilton is terrible and needs to be sent to back to AA article.

    • msanmoore

      +50, Nick … and an extra +25 for the next time you do a recap (in advance).

  16. Ken Goldsberry

    I keep praying that the NL adopts the DH rule. Then we could DH for Hamilton and accept that most pitchers hit better than he does.

    • concepcion13

      Your comment is probably typed in “sarcasm” font (nothing wrong with that), but unfortunately by rule the DH may only bat for the pitcher

  17. Myron Gaines

    Billy is listed as 6’0”, 160lbs (soaking wet).

    Why have the Reds never introduced him to the weight room? Are they afraid he will lose his speed? It’s going to happen anyways, as he ages (and fast).

    • lwblogger2

      Some people just don’t put on muscle weight as others do. It’s possible he can’t get much bigger without putting on fat.

      • Myron Gaines

        The laws of physics disagree with the myth that some people can’t build muscle. Calories in minus calories out = weight change. As long as you are lifting properly and not under-eating, you will build muscle. “Hard-gainers” are those who do not count their daily calories and never sustain a caloric surplus.

        The more interesting point is that muscle gains come at an exponentially faster rate when the lifter has never lifted before (“noobie gains”). This is one reason why steroid users advise younger folks to put a few years in of natural lifting before thinking of hopping on gear. You build muscle mass at a fast enough rate in the beginning that you don’t need the “supplements” until you approach your natural plateau maybe 5 years later. Billy could add some power to his bat in a relatively short period of time, but obviously he needs a push in the right direction from the ball club because he won’t do it on his own.

  18. Evan armstrong

    The kid is only in his second season and made a major position change. Has he struggled, sure and not sure how anyone is shocked by that. I am more then pleased at what Hamilton has done to this point. I think there is room for massive improving, but I think the key is patients. Let’s give the kid say 3-4 full seasons then overanalyze him.

    • lwblogger2

      The position change was a good thing though. He wasn’t a good SS and watching him play CF he just seems the prototype for the position defensively. I’m sort of surprised the Reds didn’t move him sooner. He’s adjusted to CF very well and for that we should applaud him. I thought he’d make bad reads and take bad routes but for the most part, he very, very seldom does. On the rare occasions where he does misjudge a ball, his speed can bail him out. He’s awfully impressive out there.

      I think the Reds can afford to give him another season or at least part of the season as a starter. Aside from working on bunting though, I think they need to just have him hit, hit, hit. He seems more comfortable from the right side. I’d talk to him about that and if he wants to give up switch-hitting this off-season then he should. If he feels he’s better as a switch-hitter, I say let him continue. The focus this off-season though needs to be hitting.

  19. old-school

    Billy is a super-sub 4th outfielder, a pinch runner and late inning defensive replacement and spot starter against lefties and day games after night games- which is 2-3 games a week. Solid #4 outfielder. Sign a free agent outfielder- Denard Span or Alex Gordon. Trade Chapman for an elite young outfielder who is major league ready. Suarez, Hamilton and Duvall give you a nice bench who all can fill in for a few weeks for the inevitable injury. If Cozart and Mesoraco and Homer aren’t ready or Bob and Walt cant afford that, then BLOW.IT.UP.

    • Evan armstrong

      So Billy gets no chance to grow or improve?

  20. Dub10

    A scout for a rival NL Central team that I talk to occasionally, predicted Hamilton would have a rough year. His biggest negative was his lack of strength, and he doesn’t have the frame to put on the necessary muscle to be a successful everyday player. He mentioned the struggles he had the second half of last season and how his body can’t endure 150+ games. He gave him four to five years and the speed would start to go. For what it’s worth, he was high on the Latos for DeSclafani trade. He thought the Reds were getting a solid arm and we’re giving up two nut jobs in Latos and his wife.

    • Myron Gaines

      He has a 6’0” frame with plenty of room to fill out in the weight room. Google says the average height of a ball player is just under 6’2”.

      Anyone can put on muscle mass. The Reds just need to make the right move and get him lifting.

      • Carl Sayre

        There are a lot of expeienced ML brains that get concerned when bulking a player. The thought is upper body bulk slows the bat speed and lower body bulking slows speed period. I am just a fan and I am all for weight training and staying “stretched” but small bone structure will only take so much mass. I am a huge fan of speed on a ball team so I am a BH fan but IMO it is his head. I can’t see any improvement in his approach in over a year and a half.

      • Myron Gaines

        There also are experienced ML brains that think sac bunting with a position player is a good expected-value play.

        Anyways, I would only say that age is 100% certain to reduce speed. Your capacity for sprint speed peaks in your mid-twenties, which Billy reaches next month (25)).

        If he could pack on 10 pounds of straight muscle by next April, I would be pleased. NFL speedsters seem to do fine with 30 pounds more (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/40-yard_dash#Records_at_the_NFL_Scouting_Combine).

  21. Tom Dooley

    Time to experiment. How about trying Suarez in centerfield. I think they should plan to play Mesaraco in left next year…. catch Barnhart… Mesaraco could catch on occasion… the Hamilton era needs to end. Perhaps he should go back to Looie and only bat from the right side. He could be a good extra outfielder if he could hit about .250.