Stealing a base in a big league game is one of the most difficult things to do, but Billy Hamilton makes it look easy. He is like Superman on the bases. Hamilton, the number one prospect for the Cincinnati Reds, is expected to start in centerfield and leadoff for the Reds next season according to General Manager, Walt Jocketty.
Last season, the Reds had one of the best leadoff hitters in the game in Shin-Shoo Choo. Choo was able to not only get on base with his bat, but also use his great eye and willingness to get hit to his advantage and get on base in front of run producers, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. If the Reds are expected to score runs this season Hamilton will need to get on base any way necessary.
Hamilton struggled in AAA last year, hitting just .254 and causing concern for many Reds fans. He dropped out of MLB.com’s preseason top ten prospect list, and finished the season rated as the eighteenth best prospect in the game. But, his speed kept him as a threat on the bases and at the plate. In his minor league career, Hamilton has a .280 batting average and a .350 on-base percentage. If he is able to put up anything close to this level he is a definite threat to score plenty of runs.
The number to look at for his minor league career is his stolen base number. In his entire minor league career, Hamilton has swiped 395 bases, including an all-time record of 155 stolen bases in 2012. Whenever he gets on base, he will have a green light and as evidenced in his 155 stolen base season, if he gets on first he will keep running until he gets to third. Hamilton is said to have run down the first baseline in 3.3 blazing seconds. That is much faster than the 4.0 seconds, which is considered lightning quick by scouts.
Hamilton got his first taste of big league action mainly used as a pinch runner and the league took notice. In fourteen attempts, Hamilton stole thirteen bases. During ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Hamilton was shown running sprints in the tunnels during games to stay loose.
The Reds’ offense will need a spark next season, especially with the loss of Choo. Hamilton has potential to be just that. His record breaking speed and smart base running make him an ultimate scoring threat. If he can get on base consistently, it won’t be long for him to be in scoring position. The Reds have a stealing machine, and the rest of the league better take notice.
Stats Complied By Baseball Reference