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Billy Hamilton is honing his bunting weapon

Mar 7, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

Billy Hamilton hit .368 in 22 plate appearances in September last season, but some in the know say that Hamilton will struggle to hit in the Majors. In his first season against Triple-A competition last season, Hamilton hit .256 with a .308 on-base percentage and a .343 slugging percentage.

Hamilton’s signature has always been his ability to swipe bases. In the Minors, Hamilton stole 395 bases in 479 opportunities (82.5%). But if he’s not hitting enough to get on base, he won’t be stealing all that much. That’s why Hamilton is working on improving his bunting. Via Mark Sheldon for MLB.com:

On Wednesday vs. Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hamilton push-bunted a ball past the first-base side of the mound. Ryu had no time to cover the bag after the first baseman fielded it, and in an act of futility, the second baseman scrambled for the bag. Hamilton was easily safe.

“If I do my job, I feel like I can get safe every time,” Hamilton said. “It’s just the point of getting it down and putting it in place. I have to realize I have to use my speed and don’t have to rush out of there. The main thing is getting the bunt down first, a perfect bunt.”

Hamilton is taking over for the Reds in center field and will bat in the lead-off spot. If he can get on base at a .310 clip and swipe second and even third with frequency, he will create plenty of RBI opportunities for those behind him in the lineup — including Joey Votto.

  1. archilochusColubris - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    Are you sure he’s not boning his hunting weapon?

  2. elwaysagenius - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    Will also create many RBI opportunities for the great Brandon Phillips

  3. sethcohenplayedsomeball - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:41 AM

    “A bunt is as good as a hit!”? Sounds better than the allegorical “A walk is as…!” no? Let’s hear it for the 3 true outcomes say bunt? (Throws the mitt down and walks off field). ; )

    • sethcohenplayedsomeball - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:33 AM

      Preceding was referencing that chant occasional heard at games(or that you attempt to channel the mechanism out). Last sentence and following parenthetical device simply meant as parody of singer throwing down mic and exiting stage. Nothing OAR, nothing Tesh.; )

    • HFS Richard - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      I believe it is in reference to Brandon Phillips OBP last year or .310.
      Brandon has at times been the reds lead off hitter and took exception last year to someone bringing up his obp.

      • HFS Richard - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        That was meant in reply to Kyle.

  4. kylecleric - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    It’s not being suggested that a .310 OBP is a good thing for a leadoff hitter, right?

    • sethcohenplayedsomeball - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:03 AM

      Surely not on average, but if, in theory, you could begin your game 31% of the time with either a “double” or ” triple”(by way of stolen base(s) let’s say once he gets on) by the time maybe 1 out was recorded, and the fastest player in the game, mind you, who could steal home at any time is your base runner, you would gladly accept the scenario. Speed has a way of affecting a pitcher and your opponent’s approach, as does striking first… Ask Mr. Henderson.: )

  5. dcarroll73 - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:12 AM

    Somewhere up there Phil Rizzuto is smiling and laughing about “those huckleberries” who tried to put out that prefect bunter. Let’s hope that this kid can really make things happen. We will always miss you, Phil.

  6. musketmaniac - Mar 8, 2014 at 5:09 AM

    speed is the first thing you lose as you age, better be able to do more than bunt by then.

    • oilcanjim - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:11 AM

      Clearly why Henderson and Raines had such short, ineffective careers.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Is there an advanced stat that could help normalize a single + steal of second as compared to a double? I don’t think Total Bases does this. Something like an adjusted slugging % that treats stoles bases as extra bases tagged on to hits. I mean, getting to second is getting to second, and the rest is just details, right?

    Really, a guy like Hamilton can turn a single (or walk) into an XBH every time, not to mention the additional advantage of distracting and frustrating the opposing pitcher to give the batters behind him a little extra advantage.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:22 PM

      You could probably decompose linear weights for a stat like wOBA to get at the relative value of single+steal vs. double. It’s going to be less, because the single doesn’t advance baserunners as far, but it’s probably not terribly so.

  8. metalhead65 - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    without the toothpick there to slow him down Ilook for nothing but good things from Billy. as long as they do not try and make him something he is not like a power hitter and let do what he oes best he and the reds will be fine. you saber geeks may not like it but reds fans will be happy if he puts up the numbers he did last year.

    • theman1932 - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:55 PM

      Dude, just stop with the illogical Dusty bashing. The toothpick would slow him down? Yes, 13 stolen bases in a month is slowing him down. Letting him steal on the first pitch over and over slowed him down. Dusty utilized Hamilton’s speed as much as possible last year and even had him on the Wild Card roster. So get your facts straight.

  9. genericcommenter - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Now, this makes sense. Some managers would then have Joey Votto “sacrifice” him over- that does not.

    Sometimes I wonder why a lot of fast weak hitters aren’t better at bunting. Then I realize that, in pro sports, the “weakest” of the elite were probably sluggers when they developed. Probably pitched and played SS, too.

    That said, when I was a kid (before Hamilton’s time but not much before Brandon Phillips) everyone learned how to bunt in little league. You came to practice and you were 1. told to wear a cup 2. taught how to bunt, slide, hit the cutoff man, etc.

    When my son played little league a few years ago, no one taught any of that. He was the only one on the team who wore a cup because he played catcher, and I don’t recall any instruction. We live in a fairly “well-off” place with money and some of his coaches were pro athletes, too. Maybe kids only learn that stuff if their dad was a pro or rich kids with specialist coaches- I don’t know.

  10. jadaruler - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    If Ron Washington manages a team Billy plays for, he will break the MLB record for bunts in a season.

  11. musketmaniac - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Henderson and Raines could hit. moron.

  12. musketmaniac - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    Henderson hit a career .279 with 297 home runs. Raines was a career .298 with over 2,500 hits. How do people get thru their day without a brain.

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