The other night, I tweeted this:
I think Billy Hamilton is my favorite player, and that surprises me.
— Chad Dotson (@dotsonc) July 9, 2016
1. Why aren’t you following me on Twitter? I’m clearly the coolest kid over there.
2. I think Billy Hamilton may actually be my favorite player. And I really didn’t see that coming.
Let’s begin here: no, I don’t think Hamilton is a perfect player. I’m not sure he’s even an average player yet, though I think you could make the argument that he’s above average for a big league centerfielder.
But you can’t ignore that he’s just hitting .256/.283/.350 after slumping over the last couple of weeks. That wOBA of .276 is particularly brutal. He has improved over his 2015 numbers in pretty much every respect, but he still trails his nice little rookie season performance. If I’m going to be honest with you — and I always try — it wouldn’t be difficult to make the argument against Billy Hamilton.
So I’m not saying that Hamilton is the best Reds player. I’m just saying he’s my favorite. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, for reasons I discussed here a couple of weeks ago, I really believe he’s on the upswing:
1. Billy Hamilton is already one of the greatest defensive center fielders on planet earth;
2. He’s also the best baserunner in the game;
3. He’s still very young, and won’t hit his peak for at least a couple more years; and
4. I think we’re seeing real improvement in Hamilton’s approach and production at the plate.
But if you want to know the real reason that Hamilton may have just become my favorite player over the last couple of months? This:
[mlbvideo id=”897288283″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”910282783″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”593045883″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]
(You may have to click on the MLB logo to watch the videos. MLB.com acts screwy when you try to embed their videos sometimes.)
Those videos are perfect examples of why Hamilton is growing on me. No, he’s not perfect. He has a number of flaws, imperfections which are easy to see both on the field and on the stat sheet. But he’s fun.
He’s just plain fun, that’s all.
I’m not sure I’ve seen a more electric, more exciting player in a Cincinnati Reds uniform in my lifetime. Baseball is supposed to be fun, right?
Listen, I know it has been difficult to watch the Reds this season. The good guys are 32-57, on pace to lose 104 games. The first half of the season has been a long, hard slog through the muck. And it’s often difficult to watch Hamilton, when he’s scuffling at the plate.
But baseball is my escape. And even when they lose, I watch the Cincinnati Reds every night. So I’m always on the lookout for things that are exciting, things that made you sit up and smile. Joey Votto provides those things often. Jay Bruce has given us plenty of excitement. Zack Cozart and Adam Duvall have made us sit up and take notice.
But Billy Hamilton provides more edge-of-the-seat excitement than any player on the roster. More than any player in baseball, maybe. He’s the only guy that can make your jaw drop, be it with his antics on the basepaths or with the glove. He’s the only guy who makes you pay attention, who keeps you from looking away when he’s on first base.
Billy Hamilton is just fun. He’s a comic book superhero, and my favorite player.
(And yes, if he could just get on base more often, he’d be even more fun.)
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.