Because I never want to miss an opportunity to hype Billy Hamilton, I don’t want you to miss this piece over at about Hamilton’s world-class defense:

It may be easy to look at Hamilton’s lack of offense and conclude that other than the speed, there’s not much to see here. But that would be overlooking one spectacularly important aspect of his game: Hamilton’s is baseball’s biggest highlight machine in the outfield. And finally, we can prove it, using our new metric Catch Probability, which you can see in action during the MLB Network broadcast of Thursday’s World Baseball Classic game between the Dominican Republic and Canada (6 p.m. ET) and throughout the rest of the Classic.

Right now, we can share that Adam Eaton and Ender Inciarte tied for the 2016 Major League lead for most Five-Star plays, with 10 apiece. But remember — Hamilton missed the final month of the year with an oblique injury, so while he finished second with nine Five-Star plays, he finished first in percentage of turning Five-Star opportunities into outs. That is, 38 percent of the time a potential Five-Star play came his way, he converted it, tops in the game, and well above the Major League average of 17 percent.

You’re really want to go over there and look at the entire piece, if only for the opportunity to watch the video of Hamilton’s five most-impressive defensive plays of the 2016 season. Unbelievable.

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

Join the conversation! 30 Comments

  1. I, for one, welcome our new Statcast overlords.

    Seriously, can’t wait to see all the new defensive data shown in realtime. Billy may break the machine!

    • Me too! The arm data with release times and throw velocities is something I’m looking very forward to. It won’t matter as far as averages are concerned because on some plays, a player may not care to release the ball as quickly as possible and as hard has possible. Around the margins though, on the toughest chances? Gold mine!

  2. I read that article. I knew it was only a matter of time before you came across it. This is all well and good but the very little to no offense is something that’s gonna bother me for a long time. Now, speed is good with the stolen bases and the defensive runs saved and, now, this catch probability/5 star plays, but I just can’t get fully on board of a guy who’s game includes very little offense. I never have liked these types of players who’re all about speed and hardly any offense. Now, if there was a plyr that had both good offense and speed, that’d be a plyr I could appreciate. Still, even then, I’m not gonna give that or any plyr my undying love & devotion anymore. I just don’t think Hamilton is gonna be much more than a .260-ish hitter throughout his career. That’s ok, I guess, but not to the level I would like to see. Maybe, he’ll prove me wrong though and become a .280, .290+ hitter. If he does then maybe I’ll appreciate him more.

    • I run saved on defense is the equivalent of a run produced on offense. He is one of (if not arguably the #1) top denfensive outfielders in the MLB.

      And BA only tells a portion of the story. If he can maintain a .325+ OBP, I don’t care how he does it.

      • brmreturns, I ain’t gonna be able to myself, but, why don’t you or someone conduct a season long experiment for Hamilton. Here’s the experiment: Keep track of how many runs Hamilton saves and compare that to how many runs (RBI’s) he produces at the plate. See, according to your theory, Hamilton should produce the same amount of runs he “saves” or “takes away” on defense. I’m being for real here…I’d be very interested in the results and what exactly they would mean.

    • Why do you have a vendetta against vowels in “player?”

      • Now that BP has moved onto Atlanta, Sandman has dropped As in memorandum. No help on the E. 🙂

        Just messing with you Sandman. It stinks to lose a favorite player.

        • I-71, Not only does it stink to lose a favorite plAyEr (lol), but I see all these articles about all these new kids and how great they’re supposed to be like they’re still trying to justify this rebuild. Everybody falling in love with these kids and they ain’t done nothing yet. A few highlight reel plays and everybody’s ready to follow them into a volcano. There are some people that REALLY love these new kids. It’s almost like people are trying to shove these new kids down my throat by passive-aggresively constantly mentioning how great they are and comparing them to the previous winning team players like they are supposed to be or are gonna be better. Some people are probably thinking that when this current group starts winning that people like me will just forget our issues. I’ll admit that I’ll be happy whenever we finally start winning but that don’t mean that I have to like who we’re winning with. If that makes me a fool, then so be it.

      • You’re funny……not really!

    • We’ll have to wait and see, Sandman. He had a promising second half, and if that is indicative of the hitter he is becoming, you may appreciate him more.

      • Greenmtred, he’d have to maintain that .280/.290+ BA throughout his entire career for me to begin to appreciate him. Right now, not do much.

        • If he falls short of .280 but his obp is, say, .330?

          • greenmtred, How’s he gonna get that kind of OBP without hits? Is he gonna suddenly develop Votto’s ability to draw walks? Maybe he can do both (eventually) I don’t know.

          • Hi, Sandman. Yeah, he’d have to get better at drawing walks, but he might. It is exciting when he’s on base, or when somebody hits a screamer to center and he makes one of those plays.

        • But Brandon Phillip’s career average as a Red was only .279.

        • Johnny Bench and Dave Concepcion both hit .267 for their careers. I guess they just weren’t very good.

          • Chuck, That’s interesting…ANYWAY! Tell me, what other famous Reds hit .260 in their time with the Reds? You know, since you like to look up BA’s (Is someone gonna have a problem with me abbreviating batting average? Well, there ya go, I just spelled out the whole thing for you). I don’t doubt that Hamilton will one day be a Reds HOF’er (if he spends a significant amount of time with us) but largely bcuz everybody’s gonna dote on him til he blushes and fall in love with him (which y’all are already doing).

  3. Noticed this in the article…27 percent — Eaton / Scott Schebler

  4. Hamilton just needs to stay healthy and off of the DL. He played in 119 games last year and 114 in 2015. That is a lot of games missed.
    However, if BHam can come close to repeating his 2nd half last year, then everything will be OK at the top of the lineup. His slash of .293/.369/.333 in the second half is probably his best period with the Reds. Just come close to that, for a whole season.

  5. I wrote an article last Aug or Sept about Billy’s prowess on this very topic! But, using Inside Edge Fielding, rather than StatCast based means.

    He had more “remote” plays (1-10% chance) made than every other CF combined.

    He is a man among boys!

  6. I know it’s a risk, but now is the time to extend Billy Hamilton. Get a 5 year deal buying out his arbitration years and 2 free agency years. If he this he repeats anything close to what he did in the second half of 2016, then he’s going to get much more expensive. If we could get something like 5 years for $30-$35 million it could be a bargain for the best defensive CF in baseball (whatever metrics they use today be damned). A 5 year deal also takes us only through his age 31 season, and we avoid the decline phase all together.

    Injuries and poor offensive performance would make it a risk, but if he is a .325+ OBP player the next 6 season, then it becomes a massive bargain.

    • I agree. I’ve liked the idea of extending Billy for awhile. It makes perfect sense! His skills are undervalued in arbitration and free agency, so he’ll be a cheap extension. AND if he somehow develops into an average hitter, while maintaining his D and baserunning, he’ll be one of the most valuable trade chips out there, due to being locked up to a team-friendly deal.

      The downside, in my opinion, is very low, considering Hamilton is probably a 1.0 WAR player as a defensive replacement and pinch runner ONLY. Even without starts, I think Billy is a 1.0 WAR player!!

  7. In 2014, Hamilton scored 11.78 runs for every 100 plate appearances.

    2015: 12.33
    2016: 15.00

    As a frame of reference, Pete Rose Scored 14.65 in 1975.

    Last year, 36% of Votto’s actual RBI ( RBI-HR) were Hamilton and Billy missed 25% of the season.

    From June 1 on, the Reds were 36-38 with Hamilton and 15-21 without him.

  8. I am an admitted major Billy Hamilton fan. I liked the way he progressed at the plate in the 2nd half of the year and hope that’s the trend. I love watching the Statcast replays of what he does in the field and adding the probability % just makes it all that much more amazing. Great article, great post, great center fielder we have.

  9. “Hamilton missed the final month of the year with an oblique injury…”
    This is my biggest fear with Billy and the highlight reel defense. A game based around speed as a primary took is fleeting enough (pun unintended), but adding in an injury risk…

    • * primary TOOL…..I really need to seriously think about disabling the auto correct.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

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


2016 Reds, 2017 Reds