Five Burning Questions for the Cincinnati Reds in 2016

Source: Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images North America

Source: Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images North America

Will Billy Hamilton take the next step?

John Fay, formerly of the Cincinnati Enquirer said it best:

Hamilton’s speed is such an asset that, if he could get on base at a better clip, he’d be a huge weapon.

Unfortunately, Hamilton’s AVG and OBP decreased from 2014 to 2015 down to a pitiful .226/.274. He did drastically improve his BB/K ratio which will be pivotal in his attempt to remain a leadoff hitter and make the most of his 80-grade speed.

However, unless Hamilton turns the corner putting bat to ball, he may be nothing more than Willy Taveras. Hamilton may have a course of action, though.

In the same story by John Fay referenced up top, Hamilton was quoted about the idea of giving up switch-hitting which he started in the minor leagues, by saying:

“It’s on my mind all the time. Here lately, a bunch of guys have done it. Pablo (Sandoval) did it. Shane Victorino did it. It’s something you can’t do in the middle of the season. You can’t go from being left-hander to facing righty-on-righty. You can’t do it in the middle of the season. But it’s something I’ve really been thinking about to do. I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable left-handed. It’s something I’ve got to keep working hard at.”

Bryan Price was quoted saying:

“He didn’t sign as a switch-hitter. He signed as a right-handed hitting shortstop. Now he’s a switching-hitting center fielder. We’ve put a lot on his plate since the time he signed. His left-handed swing is a work-in-progress.”

What this tells us is that Hamilton is certainly entertaining the idea of reverting back to a right-handed-only hitter, but it’s a decision that hasn’t been made. Either way, RH- or switch-hitter, Hamilton will need to improve his batting average in 2016. It remains to be seen if he will or not, but a career .280 hitter in the minors including a .311 season in 2012 with a respectable 86/113 BB/K ratio gives us reason to think he has the skill set to do so. I think he will, at least mildly, but we’re sure the Reds hope he does.

2 Responses

  1. Carl Insco

    Nice article Brandon. I find it amusing that you said of Suarez when describing his experience: “with a paltry .242 AVG”. Given the fact that it looks like the Reds will have Hamilton, Cozart and Bruce (1/3 of the lineup) as starters, a .242 average looks awesome. Let’s face the facts: Hamilton cannot and probably will never be able to hit and will never or should never be a lead off hitter, Bruce has lost his mojo and should have already been traded giving someone valuable experience and Cozart has never been a high average hitter and even though he started off last season hot he was beginning to tumble like a rock right before his injury. It is sad when 1/3 of your lineup everyday can’t hit their weight. Sure it is nice to have the gold glove type defense of Hamilton and Cozart or the speed of Hamilton or the HR power of a Bruce, but man they have to get on base more and cut down on the SO. Hey I’m all for the rebuild, but they need to trade Cozart and Bruce to add to the rebuild. I would give Hamilton one more year and if he doesn’t improve then either trade him or send him to the bench as a defensive replacement/pinch runner. As far as Bailey goes….well they screwed up giving him the big contract instead of Cueto! He is nothing more than a .500 pitcher with injury concerns. Sure the 2 no hitters were exciting, but I’d rather have a healthy pitcher with an above .500 average.

    • Brandon Shrider

      I couldn’t agree more, Carl. Cozart has never been an offense-first player, and despite a nice start last season, I don’t expect that to change. I’ve never been a fan of Bruce, but he did have a nice run from 2010-13 hitting 30+ HR in three of those four years. Always seemed to be too inconsistent and unreliable to get the big hit. Hamilton, possibly switching back to RH-only could prove beneficial. I doubt he ever hits .300, but I think he can improve enough not to be a liability, and his OBP will prove crucial — maybe he’ll improve on taking walks.
      And definitely agree on the Homer deal. I said that from the time they signed him. The Reds are paying him like an ace, but hasn’t proven to be much more than a No. 3 starter who can’t stay healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of this rebuild goes, with Bruce, Votto and Phillips all possibly on their way out if the Reds can find any takers … and the players waive their NTC’s which I think Phillips and Votto both have.


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