The Reds Should Not Call Up Billy Hamilton This Year
Sunday, August 5th, 2012
Sam Evans: Double-A Pensacola shortstop Billy Hamilton is one of the best prospects in baseball. He might be the fastest player in baseball history, and the other areas of his game are steadily improving. Cincinnati is currently in first place in the N.L. Central, and according to Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds, they have a 97.5% chance of reaching the playoffs. Due to Hamilton’s current level of readiness and potential impact, the effect he will have on fans, and Hamilton’s future development down the road, Cincinnati should not call up Billy Hamilton in 2012.
In eighty-two games in High-A Bakersfield this year, Billy Hamilton hit .323 with a .413 OBP and he stole 104 bases. However, Hamilton was playing in the offense-friendly Cal League, where the average hitter is hitting .273/.342/.424. The Reds eventually promoted Hamilton to Double-A Pensacola, where he has hit .282/.404/.405 with eighteen steals in twenty-two games. Hamilton’s numbers at both levels this year have been tremendous. Billy Hamilton is going to be a superstar, and he might pass Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, in terms of being the fan favorite in Cincy. However, that doesn’t mean he is ready to contribute right away.
If he were to be called up in September, Billy Hamilton wouldn’t have that much impact on the Reds’ lineup. Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart has quietly been putting together a solid season. Cozart is on pace to reach 2.5 WAR, which if done in 2011, would make him more valuable than a little-known shortstop in New York named Derek Jeter. If Hamilton were to be called up, he would likely be coming off the bench. Sure, he could be an awesome pinch-runner, but as we learned from Jarrod Dyson in 2010, speedy one-dimensional guys don’t make much of an impact. I’m not saying Hamilton is one-dimensional, but I don’t think he’s ready for major league pitching right now. Even if Hamilton could steal eight bases in the last month of the year, it’s not going to help his career by having him sit on the bench for most games.
The decision the Reds make with the rest of Billy Hamilton’s season will likely have an effect on what kind of player Hamilton is in five years. If the Reds call up Billy Hamilton, he will come off the bench and won’t get consistent playing time. Instead of working on his defense in Double-A, Hamilton will only see time at shortstop when Zack Cozart needs a day off. There’s no reason why the Reds shouldn’t let Hamilton develop into a better overall player in Double-A, than not play him every day in the majors. Just look at what has happened to Brandon Belt…
Cincinnati baseball fans are going to LOVE Billy Hamilton. His speed and personality are going to make him one of the most likable players in the major leagues. Let’s say Cincinnati calls up Hamilton in September, and Reds’ fans see the occasional glimpse of him. They’re not going to take it very well when the Reds’ front office decides to start Hamilton in Triple-A for the 2013 season. That would likely start a “Free Billy Hamilton” campaign which isn’t very fun for both sides. If Cincinnati doesn’t want to start a battle between the front office and the fans next year, it’s best to keep Hamilton in the minors for the remainder of the 2012 season.
The Reds don’t need Billy Hamilton this year. Cozart has been just dandy, and with Joey Votto coming back, the Reds are close to a sure thing to reach the playoffs. Sure, the occasional pinch-run stolen base could help a little, but it would be sacrificing valuable playing time for Hamilton in the minors. Not to mention, if the Reds do decide to bring Hamilton up this year, the fans will go berserk if they decide to start Hamilton in the minors next year. I have no idea whether or not the Reds are going to call up Billy Hamilton this year, however, for the reasons afore-mentioned; it’s not the right move.
***Today’s feature was prepared by Sam Evans, Baseball Writer. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***
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Posted on August 5, 2012, in On the Verge: MLB Prospects and tagged bakersfield blaze, baseball, BIlly Hamilton, cincinnati, mlb, NL Central, pensacola blue wahoos, prospect, reds, speed, stolen bases, zack cozart. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.