This week’s respondents are Jason Linden, Wes Jenkins, Bill Lack, Grant Freking, and Chad Dotson.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: What’s the best-case scenario for Billy Hamilton? Worst-case?

Jason: I hate to say this, but the best case is that he gets traded. I don’t think he’s showing us much new at this point, and that’s too bad. If he’s with the Reds, the best case is probably his 2016 but with something closer to a full season of playing time. If he can get on base at an average rate, his speed makes him worthwhile. Also, I’m still not certain we value him correctly. He’s so much more likely to score once he gets on than the average base runner that I feel like he can still contribute with a lower OBP. I think, in some ways, he’s so extreme he breaks the system. Anyway, best case is a 3-4 WAR player with great defense. Worst case is he stops hitting entirely and loses half a step in the outfield taking him from fabulous to merely great and making him best suited to a pinch-runner, defensive replacement role.

Wes: The best-case scenario for Billy Hamilton is he gets traded to the Cubs and platoons his way to a World Series ring, but I’m thinking this question is meant more in the Reds context. Best-case: Billy bats .260 and gets on base a touch over .300. He steals 75 bases and scores 100 runs batting in front of MVP Joey Votto and Rookie of the Year Nick Senzel.

Worst-case: Billy bats .220 from the leadoff spot, scraping to a .250 OBP. He steals bases when he can, which is rare, and struggles to cross the 40 stolen base threshold. His vacuum suck at the top of the lineup costs Joey Votto another MVP award and Nick Senzel the Rookie of the Year.

Bill: Best-case for Billy is that he finally learns the strike zone and how to hit. The probability of that happening is about nil. I’m convinced Billy is what he is (and what many of us have said he was since he first came up), a really fast athlete who excels at speed and defense and will never hit enough to really be valuable offensively. The problem is, I don’t think this team is good enough offensively to carry someone that is this bad no matter how good they are defensively. I also am not convinced that the Reds front office will ever agree with this sentiment.

The worst-case? The Reds front office continues to believe that he’ll “get it” and invests a large amount of money in him to buy out arbitration and free agency years, while he continues to struggle offensively and the manager continues to hit him at the top of the lineup.

Grant: Best case: In need of a fresh start, Hamilton is traded to the Mariners, Rockies or another club with a big outfield so the speedster’s defensive prowess can be fully realized. Hamilton is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to garner $5M in arbitration this season, so the Reds use the salary savings to pay other arbitration-eligible players like Eugenio Suarez, Michael Lorenzen, and Anthony DeSclafani, among others.

Worst case: Hamilton stays, and a stubborn Bryan Price continues to bat Hamilton in the leadoff spot on an everyday basis, further cratering the 27-year-old’s confidence. Now entering his fifth (yes, really) season as a regular, Hamilton could become a prime scapegoat if the Reds’ fortunes take a downturn to a fourth straight 90-loss season.

Chad: Best-case scenario for Billy Hamilton: he’ll be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2035.

Worst-case scenario: Billy will be the National League MVP in 2018.

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! 27 Comments

  1. + Traded to an AL club with a big outfield where the DH will make up for his lack of offense.
    – Stays with Reds and is demoted to 4th. outfielder available for his speed and late inning defense.

  2. The best case scenario is that Reds realize Billy’s future lies elsewhere, finds a fair trading partner,& allows both side to benefit. The worst case scenario is that the Reds continue Billy in his present position, failing as an everyday leadoff hitter, until either free agency or diminished speed renders Hamilton unmarketable. Reds end up with no more to show for Billy’s tenure with the Reds than they have to show for Cozart, BP, Jay Bruce, etc.

  3. I’m torn on the best case scenario. I would love to see Billy transform himself into a Matt Carpenter-like OBP machine(he’ll never hit the HRs, but that’s okay) while still in a Reds uniform, helping us all keep our sanity in the process. But let’s be real… probably best case will be trading him for a return that contributes to the next winning Reds team (even if it takes a package deal).

    Worst case scenario: Same ol’ same ol’ , can’t walk, can’t hit, can’t bunt, base running gaffe Billy drives me to the looney bin.

  4. After 4 years, we’ve seen Hamilton demonstrate what we can expect, good and bad. Hamilton can play GG defense in CF and demonstrate crazy, explosive speed on the bases while he struggles to provide any offensive value at the plate. If Hamilton remains on the Reds roster, the best case scenario is more of the same performance. There’s simply no reason to expect anything else, even with the most optimistic outlook. The worsdt case scenario is Hamilton pulling and Eric Davis while diving for a ball that no one else of earthly origin could even contemplate catching; or blows out his hammy or blows out a knee crashihg into the outfield wall. Hamilton spends the season on the 60-day DL and never regains his speed, which is his only asset.

    The absolutely best option for the Reds regarding Hamilton is to find an interested trading partner and pull that trigger, preferably as part of a big trade that returns a solid offensive CF capable of average to above average defense.

  5. Best: .270 / .325 / .350. 110 runs, 75 stolen bases, Gold Glove
    Worst: .235 / .280 / .300. Benched at the all-star break and relegated to defensive replacement and pinch running.
    Best for the Reds: Traded to a team with a giant outfield in a multi-team deal that returns Christian Yelich or a comparable center fielder of the future.

  6. Thats the problem with trading anyone that has any talent at all,the Reds dont get anything in return. Aside from Duvall and maybe 1 or 2 other guys,the Reds havent gotten any talent in return to show for the great players they have lost like Chapman,Frazier,Cueto,i could go on and on. I understand they are a small market team and look to cut payroll but to not get guys in return that can help this team is crazy. Everyone wants to give up on Billy but at least he plays,its time to give up on Finnegan,DeSclafani and several more that are getting paid for nothing,and if they can unload that terrible Homer Bailey contract they should do it in a second,no sense in paying that much for a guy on the DL half or more of the time thats not even a .500 pitcher just on the chance that he might throw a no-hitter.

    • The Frazier and Chapman trades didn’t return what they should have because the Reds held onto them too long. The Frazier return at least has given Schebler, and Perraza could still provide value. Cueto was leaving so if any one of the two remaining guys they received contributes it was a good trade. On the other hand Duvall, Suarez, Castillo, and Disco all were acquired for almost nothing. The high number of injuries and waiting too long to tear down have been the real problem. An entire starting rotation being injured for the whole year was devastating. The Cozart injuries prevented him from being traded while Chapman deciding to shoot his garage cause the Reds to panic and trade him for a fraction of what he could have gotten

    • Brian, I agree with you that they should try to trade Bailey, maybe to Texas or Houston. I would still like to see them at least start with a 6 man rotation with the young pitchers.

    • You have to mention that they obtained Eugenio Suarez and Luis Castillo in what any sane analysis would call lopsided trades. No problem criticizing the Front Office but one must also give credit where it’s due.

  7. Can Hamilton end up learning how to hit? Sure. Ozzie Smith did. But, will Hamilton end up learning how to hit? That’s another story. And, comparing someone to a HOFer wouldn’t be a wise comparison.

    So, will Hamilton end up learning how to hit? No. So, I agree, best thing for Hamilton would be a trade. The best thing for Hamilton to stay on this team, one would have to way his salary to how I would use him, more as a situational guy (because of his speed) and defensive replacement.

  8. Best case: 2.5 WAR or traded
    Worst case: Status quo and playing every day, leading off.

  9. Why would we trade Billy? He is by far our fastest player and our best outfielder. He got on base 188 times last year and scored 85runs. That is nearly 50 percent of the time. And for a significant time he was hitting ahead of peraza who had a bad offensive year.
    Of course l would like to see him walk more but l really don’t see him swing at a lot of bad pitches. The pitchers obviously are very careful with him because they don’t want him getting on base.

    • I am beginning to think you are only posting to get the anti Hamilton crowd all fired up. In case you are serious, people want to trade him because he is below average at the plate. He creates havoc on the base path, but until a rules change allows the stealing of first he needs to find a way to get on base. His defense of GG caliber and once on base he can change the game. Those are the reasons why I would not trade him unless someone seriously over values him. I would keep him and at worst you have a pinch runner and someone who can be brought in for defense. I think his defense would be more valuable to one of the west coast teams with huge outfields

      • No Bill. l just think Hamilton is our spark plug and without him we a pretty boring team. People come to gabp just to see him play. He is fun to watch and makes amazing catches. Is he an idea lead off guy? No. Ideally he would be like a Cesar Geronimo for the BRM.
        But hey l will take 60 sb, and gg defense in center anyday.

    • Actually the #2 spot in the Reds order hit a good .819 OPS. The significant portion of that was Zack Cozarts 423 PA of .893 OPS. Peraza’s 133 PA of .539 OPS was the second most amount of time at the spot. But it was Hamilton’s injuries and terrible .299 OBP at the leadoff spot that kept him from scoring the 120+ runs he should have if he were a good hitter.

      • Spot on Tom. ANY leadoff hitter for the Reds last season should have lead the league in runs scored and it shouldn’t even have been close with Cozart and Votto, respectively, following the leadoff hitter. A leadoff hitter that cripples the offense by creating a one-out of two-out handicap for the hitters driving in runs and moving the line along is simply not conducive to an effective offense.

      • Hamilton’s lack of power contributes to his run scoring deficit and that’s often overlooked. Shin-Soo Choo scored 107 runs for the Reds in 2013, driving himself in with home runs 21 times. Choo stole 20 bases that year. Charlie Blackmon scored 137 runs leading off for the Rockies this year. He hit 37 home runs. George Springer, batting leadoff for the World Series champion Houston Astros, scored 112 runs and hit 34 homers. Brian Dozier 106 runs, 34 home runs. Out of 144 qualified hitters, Billy Hamilton had the third lowest power. Jose Peraza was #144. 16 major league teams hit 20 or more home runs in the leadoff spot. Hamilton hit 4 in 628 plate appearances. Jesse Winker hit two HR in 35 PA leading off. Scott Schebler homered twice in the one game he hit leadoff. Never batted there again.

        • You gotta bat Winker first. Billy ran hot and cold … bad April, June, August (low .200 avg, below .300 obp) …decent May, July, and abbreviated Sept. (.280 avg, .330-.340 obp). Why? He isn’t going to hit for power. Doesn’t need to. Bat him 8 or 9. He needs better plate discipline and to get a little more exit velocity to get balls through the infield. Can he do that? Maybe. Trade (package) him if you can for a MLB-ready SS…bring up Ervin if you do and platoon him with Schebler. Otherwise let Joey work with him some more.

    • Give Jesse Winker Hamilton’s 633 at bats leading off…with a .375 obp and u have 237 times on base….plus Winker will hit far more doubles and 15+ times a year…he will drive himself in.

      We have run creation metrics. This is a dead argument. Hamilton doesnt create anything with a bat in his hands at the leadoff position.

      Furthermore, we now know CF defense in the era of the home run is not nearly as valued as it was in the past.

      Best case scenario..Hamilton…hits .255 /.309/.350 and steals 60 bases and has a hot streak in may rekindling the flawed notion that he’s getting it.

      Worst case scenario he hits .239/.289/.327 and steals 50 bases and gets injured.

      • Has the “era of the home run” come with a rule change that reduces the number of outs in a game? Still 27 every nine innings, last I knew.

        • MLB shattered the home record this year. Certainly the ball played a factor, but hitting approaches have changed too, and launch angles and power and home runs are going to continue to dominate the game. Strikeouts are way up as well. Centerfielders cant catch home runs or help the pitchers with their 12/27 outs as Strikeouts. The impact of each game is less and less about defense. Watch the Nationals and Dodgers and Astros and Red Sox hit.

          More relevant is the general overestimation of Billy Hamilton’s defensive impact on the outcome of a game. Its convenient to compare Hamilton to the hypothetical replacement CF or perhaps even Scott Schebler, but that’s not the comparison. The comparison is his CF peers in MLB. How many defensive outs a year in CF does Billy Hamilton make that Ender Inciarte cant make? Odubel Herrera? Byron Buxton? Michael Taylor? George Springer? Mike Trout? Lorenzo Cain? Jarrod Dyson? Kevin Pillar? Bradley Zimmer? Christian Yelich?

          The point being major league centerfielder’s are some of the best athletes in the world. Over 162 games, how many outs does Billy Hamilton save you? less than 5. Maybe zero.

          Flip the equation- over 162 games hitting and your 27 outs a game, how many deficit outs is Hamilton compared to Mike Trout, Charlie Blackmon Tommy Pham, Christian Yelich, George springer, Andrew McCutcheon? Lorenzo Cain ? 75? 85? How much of a power outage is there comparing Hamilton to his peers? A ton.

          • Comparing BH to the guys you mention may miss the point. Compare him to whoever would play CF for the Reds if he weren’t. Yes, I wish he hit better and, yes, the Reds should be looking for a good CF who can, but I don’t agree that the current hitting approach will necessarily continue to dominate the game. We’ve heard this before, and adjustments to the ball, the mound and pitching strategy make trends such as this impermanent. Strikeouts are up, yes, but a majority of outs in a game are usually not strikeouts, and a team of less-than excellent defenders will still cost a team wins and bring with it an unnecessarily beleaguered pitching staff. Balance in all things. What goes around comes around.

  10. I agree that the best option will be to trade Billy. The deal this site proposed to obtain Christian Yelich would be wonderful. My concern is that he hits marginally and Price continues to place him in the upper half of the lineup. History suggests his durability is suspect so it would be a shame for him to injure himself long-term and that would mean neither the player nor the organization profit.

  11. if Hamilton is not traded, and I doubt that will happen, I don’t think we’ll see much difference in the way Price uses him. He’s a favorite of the manager and he will still be leading off because of his speed, but offensive-wise and OBP will still be a negative on the top of the order.

  12. Best Case: Like many on this question, I believe the best for BH is to be traded hopefully to the AL. Maybe some hitting guru can get through to him and he becomes a more complete hitter, much better OBP. He will retain his defense and someday get that Glove Glove which he deserves.
    Worst Case: Whether with the Reds or another Team, he gets injured and the injury starts to affect his speed.
    Whether you like BH or not he has always given 100% and more. I will always remember him running the bases as well as making the most spectacular plays in CF.

  13. Sorry… I meant to say Gold Glove.

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


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