Predicting Possible New Homes for Billy Hamilton
Speedy Center Fielder Must Find A New Team For Next Season
His speed could certainly help most teams, but he will experience a decline as he reaches age thirty.
One of the main criticisms of outfielder Billy Hamilton was that he spent too much time at home and not enough on the other bases. On the occasions he did manage to get past home, he caused a lot of pitchers a lot of panic.
After the only team he had ever played for declined to offer arbitration for him, Hamilton will have to find a new home away from Cincinnati. The Reds, who had been extremely patient while waiting for their center fielder to develop to become at least an average hitter, non-tendered him last week.
Almost any team would be interested in Hamilton's speed, the tool that has allowed him to average 65 stolen bases over his five full seasons in the Major Leagues. On the other hand, most general managers would be thoroughly unimpressed with his paltry .245 career batting average.
Because Hamilton will begin 2019 as a thirty year old, no team will offer him a lucrative nor lengthy contract based solely on his speed. Father Time will be sure to slow him down, leaving him to rely on his ability to do other things in the game.
His other strength, which is directly related to his speed, is his defense in center field. Hamilton has been a Gold Glove runner up for three straight seasons, and there are several teams who would sign him to a modest contract because of his range.
San Francisco is one such team, since the Giants have been looking for outfield help for the last four seasons. Signing Hamilton would serve as insurance for youngster Steve Duggar, a twenty five year old who has had only a handful of at bats at the Major League level.
Cleveland, whose number one center fielder on the depth chart is thirty year old Leonys Martin, might also be interested in acquiring Hamilton. Neither Martin nor Hamilton is going to provide much help in the lineup, but Hamilton would probably be a relatively inexpensive upgrade defensively over The current center fielder for the Indians.
Another candidate would be the Phillies, who must improve upon the worst defense in 2018. Philadelphia, which was in contention until the last few weeks, gave up more runs against defense than any other club.
Signing Hamilton would allow last year's left fielder Rhys Hoskins to be moved back to first base, now that Philadelphia has sent Carlos Santana to the Seattle Mariners. A perennial Gold Glove finalist, even without huge offensive upside, would certainly be a welcome sight to Phillies pitchers like Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola.
Delino Deshields, who currently rests atop the depth chart of the Rangers, may be one of the few outfielders whose offensive numbers have been worse than those of Billy Hamilton. The stellar defense of the latter would be an asset for Texas, especially with below average defender Joey Gallo next to him in left field.
Given that Colorado plays in that ball park called Coors Field, the Rockies need outfielders who can cover a lot of ground. Hamilton is certainly one of those, and his offensive numbers might get a boost from playing his home games in the Mile High city.
On the other hand, Detroit's pitcher friendly park needs a speedy guy covering the middle of the outfield, which makes Hamilton a good fit. Currently in charge of the Tigers outfield is Jacoby Jones, whose career batting average is one point below the Mendoza Line.
Wherever Hamilton ends up, he will leave behind his days of being an everyday player. His new team will likely treat him as a specialist, using his speed to cash in on their small ball opportunities and his range to help defend a lead in the late innings.