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Billy “The Fastest Man In Baseball” Hamilton can hit a little bit too

Jun 19, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

Billy Hamilton is the fastest man in baseball and when the Reds named him their Opening Day center fielder tons of people got excited to see how many bases he could steal as a rookie despite not being much of a hitter. So far the answer is … well, it turns out he can actually hit too.

Hamilton went hitless in his first 12 at-bats of the season, but since then he’s hit .294 with four homers, 17 total extra-base hits, and a .751 OPS in 60 games. This season the National League as a whole has posted a .702 OPS, so Hamilton has been a well above-average hitter for two months now.

Oh, and he’s also stolen 28 bases in those 60 games, which is why everyone was so damn excited for his arrival in the first place.

Hamilton hasn’t done a good job controlling the strike zone and his on-base skills could definitely still use plenty of work for him to fully take advantage of his amazing speed, but he’s 23 years old with a lifetime .730 OPS through 78 games for the Reds and he’s been on fire this month hitting .356 with eight steals, three homers, and a .967 OPS in 15 games.

What an incredibly fun player.

  1. tbird05 - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Ruuuuuun, Billy, Ruuuuun!!!

    • reger91 - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      He’s gonna be another Lou Brock!

  2. aphillieated - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Dee Gordon >

    • thetoolsofignorance - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      Completely agree.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      Gordon is three years older, in his fourth year at the MLB level. Dee is in his physical peak, while Billy still has plenty of room to grow.

      That said, their stats are basically identical this season, with Dee stealing a few more bags and Billy hitting a few more HR. Billy’s SB% is much lower, but he’s still learning the league. If I recall, Davy Lopes is considered to be one of the best 1B coaches in baseball for improving SB%. Perhaps if Hamilton can get some coaching of a similar quality he will reach his full potential in that category.

      It is fun for us that we have both this season.

      • jm91rs - Jun 19, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        But if I read it correctly, Gordon is pretty young in terms of baseball years. Supposedly didn’t start playing until High School, so he may still be on the upswing. We’re all lucky that we get to watch these guys drive pitchers crazy on the basebaths.

  3. erarey64 - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    Not Faster than Peter Bourhges or Mike Trout, Gardner is probably faster if healthy!

    • thomas844 - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      I have to admit, I doubted Hamilton before the season due to his subpar minor league season last year. For a young rookie who was thrown into the leadoff spot right off the bat, Hamilton has really impressed. He has shown impressive bat control with the ability to go the other way. His bunting ability from both sides of the plate is also incredible.

      The man is quick, bring a shortstop’s arm and ridiculous range to CF, and is now starting to swing the bat well. All he needs is more plate discipline and to draw more walks, and he can become one of the best overall players in the game soon enough.

      • missingdiz - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        I agree. I recently caught a couple of games in Cincinnati. Hamilton is as fast as I’ve seen on a baseball diamond. What you can’t get out of the box score is how much pressure he puts on the defense. They try to hurry and make errors and of course he just keeps going when they do. He just about takes away the gaps in the outfield. He has much to learn, but he’s shown that he wants to learn and can learn. I wish him well, even though I’m a Cards fan. When somebody says, “baseball is boring,” take them to a Reds game.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        I wonder how much his reputation has influenced his OBP. If pitchers think of him as a no power slap hitter, perhaps he is just not getting enough pitches out of the zone. I know there are stats that track this stuff, but such things are beyond my capabilities.

      • paperlions - Jun 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM

        Hamilton is 8th out of 167 qualified hitters in % of pitches in the zone. Gordon is 4th.

        There is definitely a “he won’t do much with it if he hits it” mentality for those two guys….better to make them earn their way on base than to give them 1st base for free.

      • genericcommenter - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:50 PM

        I really don’t have any idea how good his bunting is, but I read an article earlier about his manager saying really he needs to work on his bunting to improve OBP. I think it was published before his recent hot streak, but not too long ago.

    • jm91rs - Jun 19, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      Hamilton is not faster than Mike Trout?
      Trout is 10 times the player that Hamilton is, but he’s not as fast and that’s not debatable.

  4. dontbethatguy14 - Jun 19, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    This kid is lightning fast, no doubt about it. But he will never be Willie “Mays” Hayes. Unfortunately, most people on this site will think i’m looney and have no clue what i’m referring to. The next generation saddens me.

    • gunpowderjones - Jun 19, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      You should take a hint from your username. And don’t get too sad, I’m sure most people here get your lame joke.

      • reger91 - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        lol who is “Willie Mays Hayes’ I’ve never seen Major League?

    • serveaux - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:40 AM

      Are you really comparing Billy Hamilton to Wesley Snipes? Or worse, Omar Epps? You’re worse than looney.

  5. metalhead65 - Jun 19, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    besides being able to hit he is also a pretty damn good center fielder for somebody in his second year playing the position. gold glove caliber I would say. if you could drag yourselves away from your stat sheets and actually watched him play a game you would see a pretty good baseball player and not just the speed demon he is.

    • paperlions - Jun 19, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      You are an idiot. There is no one that is into sabermetrics that 1) doesn’t watch a lot of baseball, or 2) doesn’t think Hamilton is a valuable player because of his contributions in all 3 phases of the game.

  6. drewsylvania - Jun 19, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Maybe this is nitpicking, but Hamilton hits in a hitters’ park. Not sure he’s well above average.

    • paco53 - Jun 19, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      GABP is a HR park. Having the OFs playing closer to the infield due to the short fences does not benefit Billy, it hurts him. He had a great series in Pittsburgh, where the fences are further out. The Pirate outfielders, who are Gold Glove quality, play deeper in Pittsburgh. Hamilton hit the ball in front of them, down the line, and bunted his way onto base.

  7. sportsfan18 - Jun 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Talk with and listen to Joey Votto Billy…

    Great start kid, keep it up…

  8. familyandfriendsphoto - Jun 19, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Have you seen him in centerfield? Gold glove easily.

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