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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Billy Hamilton Glove Being Missed

Billy Hamilton is being missed, mostly by his own pitchers.

Hamilton has run down so many baseballs in centerfield that, without him, the pitchers have given up more hits and runs with a hole in the outfield.

Hamilton’s low batting average and abysmal on-base percentage haven’t been missed but half of the game is played in the field and defense wins as many games as offense does

“The interesting thing about Billy’s hiatus is that we’ve all talked about his offensive production and his on-base percentage, but what a difference he makes daily in center field,” said Bryan Price. “It is a standout difference. It is nothing against any other player. It would happen with any team in the league"

Drew Stubbs was a born centerfielder and was so smooth it appeared that he gave no effort. Like Hamilton, the black hole he filled in the outfield was overshadowed in many minds by his lack of offensive production. Yet the Reds won 97 games in 2012 with Stubbs in the lineup and roaming centerfield every day.

In the first game of the doubleheaders with the Brewers, John Lamb, gave up five runs in the sixth innings on bloops and a long drive to center.  Jason Bourgeois got to one ball deep in center but couldn't pull it in.  Skip Schumaker couldn't get to a couple hits off the Brewers' bats that could have been fielded.  Perhaps by setting up differently, knowing Hamilton's exceptional range.

One problem with defense is that it hides in the box score. A ball that should have been caught looks like any other hit.

“If Hamilton is your center fielder and you remove him and put anybody else in there, well, he is just a defensive difference-maker,” Price added. “He is an elite defender. And when he is not in center field, you notice it. You then realize what you haveve, underlines the importance of Billy’s presence on this team. We all want to focus on his offensive maturity, but the defensive maturity is so far above the expectations that I had when he made our club last year. When he isn’t out there, it is so, so noticeable. You get spoiled by his defense. There is nobody in the same class as Billy as far as the balls he can chase down.”

The Reds moved Hamilton to centerfield after he played shortstop his first five years of professional baseball that started when the 24-year old was selected in the 2009 draft.  The Reds wanted Hamilton to switch hit. In two years native of Mississippi, has had to make two major adjustments in his game.  In one facet, he's joined the elite in the Major Leagues in the other he should be in the minors.
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Eugenio Suarez was learning to switch hit.  In fact the Reds' media guide lists Suarez as a switch hitter but he gave it up after he was traded to the Reds.  Suarez has shown a lot of growth in his hitting ability.  Hamilton may benefit from batting from his natural side, right-handed.

Hamilton started a rehab stint in Pensacola after recovering from a jammed right shoulder he jammed diving for a ball in the outfield.

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