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.