Billy Hamilton (baseball, born 1990)

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Billy Hamilton
BillyHamilton2017.jpg
Hamilton with the Cincinnati Reds in 2017
Kansas City Royals – No. 6
Center fielder
Born: (1990-09-09) September 9, 1990 (age 28)
Taylorsville, Mississippi
Bats: Switch Throws: Right
MLB debut
September 3, 2013, for the Cincinnati Reds
MLB statistics
(through 2018 season)
Batting average.245
Home runs21
Runs batted in161
Stolen bases277
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Billy R. Hamilton (born September 9, 1990) is an American professional baseball center fielder for the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played for the Cincinnati Reds from 2013 through 2018.

Hamilton holds the Minor League Baseball single-season stolen base record with 155 steals—10 higher than the previous Minor League record set by Vince Coleman and 25 more than Rickey Henderson's record set on the Major League level. He also holds the Cincinnati Reds record for most stolen bases by a rookie in a season.[1]

Early career[edit]

Amateur career[edit]

Hamilton attended Taylorsville High School in Taylorsville, Mississippi, where he was all-state in baseball, football and basketball. He was a top football prospect at wide receiver, signing a letter of intent to play college football at Mississippi State University.[2][3]

Minor league career[edit]

The Cincinnati Reds selected Hamilton in the second round of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft.[3][4][5]

Prior to the 2011 season, Hamilton was ranked by Baseball America as the 50th best prospect in baseball.[6] That season, while playing for the Dayton Dragons, Hamilton became the 12th minor league player to have 100 stolen bases in a season and the first since 2001.[7] He finished the 2011 season with 103 total stolen bases and hit .278/.340/.360.[citation needed] Prior to 2012, Baseball America ranked Hamilton as the 48th best prospect.[8] MLB rated Hamilton as the 31st best prospect, fourth-best shortstop and the second-best prospect in the Reds organization behind catcher Devin Mesoraco.[9]

On August 21, 2012, Hamilton stole a record 146th base in his 120th game of the season for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The record was previously held by Vince Coleman for the Class A Macon Redbirds in 1983.[10] He finished the 2012 season with 155 stolen bases and hit .311/.410/.420.[11]

After the 2012 season, the Reds announced that Hamilton, who originally played shortstop, would move to center field for 2013. Bill Bavasi, the Reds' vice president of scouting and player development told MLB.com that the move was made for several reasons, including the fact that two other established shortstops, Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius, were already on the roster.[12]

Prior to the 2013 season, Hamilton was ranked as the Reds' best prospect by Baseball America.[13] For the season with the Louisville Bats, in 123 games he stole 75 bases and hit .256/.308/.343.[14]

Major League career[edit]

Cincinnati Reds[edit]

Hamilton with the Reds in 2016

Hamilton was called up to the Major Leagues on September 2, 2013, and made his debut on September 3 against the St. Louis Cardinals as a pinch runner for Ryan Ludwick. He stole second base off Yadier Molina, and came around to score on a Todd Frazier double.[15] Hamilton appeared in four Major League games as a pinch runner until September 10 when, in the seventh inning, he replaced Shin-Soo Choo in center field and also made his batting debut, going 0-for-2 in a loss at home to the Chicago Cubs.[16][17]

He got his first start on September 18, 2013, in a Reds road win over the Houston Astros. Playing center field and batting ninth, in his first at-bat of the game he notched his first Major League hit, a second-inning double to left field off Astros' starter Brad Peacock, and later got his first run batted in, driving in Todd Frazier with an infield single. For the game (which went 13 innings), Hamilton reached base five times, going 3-for-4 with two walks, two runs scored, one RBI, and four stolen bases in four attempts off four pitchers.[18] Hamilton became the first Major League player since 1920 to steal four bases in his first Major League start.[19] In his first 10 times on base, he stole nine bases and scored six runs.[20] He was successful in his first 13 steal attempts, before being thrown out on his 14th attempt.[21]

Hamilton became a regular with the Cincinnati Reds in 2014. He had something of a rough start to the season, hitting just .221 through April 27 and being caught in five of his first 15 attempts at stealing.[22] By around the time of the All-Star break, however, Hamilton's stats had greatly improved and he was attracting positive attention from a number of sources, tipped as potential Gold Glove candidate for defense[23][24] and also noted for unexpected power hitting.[25] On September 2, Hamilton, with his 55th stolen base of the season, set a Cincinnati Reds franchise record for most stolen bases in a season by a rookie, edging out the mark of 54 set in 1909 by Bob Bescher. Despite this, Hamilton was second in Major League Baseball for stolen bases at the time, with Dee Gordon having recorded 58.[1] For the season, he batted .250/.292/.355 with 56 stolen bases while leading the league in being caught stealing, with 23.[26] On October 23, Hamilton was nominated for the 2014 Gold Glove for National League Center field,[27] but lost to Juan Lagares of the New York Mets.[28] Hamilton also finished 2nd in NL Rookie of the Year voting, losing out to New York Mets pitcher Jacob DeGrom.[29]

At the opening of the 2015 season, Hamilton joined Vince Coleman (1987) as the only players in Major League Baseball history to steal six bases in their team's first three games.[30] In the following game, he stole a seventh base, again matching Coleman for a record by being one of two players to steal seven bases within the first four games of the season.[31] He ended the season hitting .226/.274/.289 with 8 doubles and 3 triples (all career lows) and 57 stolen bases in 412 at bats.[26] Balls he hit had the lowest average exit velocity of any major leaguer (79.3 miles per hour), and he had the ninth-fastest sprint speed among major leaguers (29.7 feet per second).[32][33]

In 2016, Hamilton hit a career-best .260 with a career-low 3 home runs and 17 RBIs in 119 games, going 58/66 in stolen bases. Balls he hit had the second-lowest average exit velocity of any major leaguer (80.0 miles per hour), and he had the sixth-fastest sprint speed among major leaguers (30.2 feet per second).[34][35]

On May 4, 2017, Hamilton stole his 200th career base.[36][37] He ended the season batting .247/.299/.335 while establishing career bests in at bats (582), runs (85), hits (144), triples (11), and a career high in strikeouts (133). He also went 59/72 in stolen base attempts. Balls he hit had the second-lowest average exit velocity of any major leaguer (78.6 miles per hour), and he had the sixth-fastest sprint speed among major leaguers (30.1 feet per second).[34][38]

In 2018, Hamilton struggled offensively all season, hitting just .236/.299/.327 and 132 strikeouts while going 34/44 in stolen base attempts. Balls he hit had the lowest average exit velocity of any major leaguer (79.4 miles per hour), and he had the fifth-fastest sprint speed among major leaguers (30.1 feet per second).[39][38] He earned $4.6 million.[40] Reds general manager Nick Krall said he tried to trade Hamilton, but there were no interest on the part of other teams.[41] After the 2018 season, the Reds non-tendered Hamilton, making him a free agent.[42]

Kansas City Royals[edit]

On December 11, 2018, Hamilton signed a one-year $5.25 million contract that includes up to $1 million in incentives with a mutual option for the 2020 season, with the Kansas City Royals.[43][44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sheldon, Mark (September 2, 2014). "Hamilton dashes into Reds history with 55th steal". MLB.com. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  2. ^ "Billy Hamilton, stolen base leader, is Cincinnati Reds' phenom - Albert Chen - SI.com". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. July 23, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Billy Hamilton. "Football Recruiting – Billy Hamilton – Player Profiles – ESPN". Espn.go.com. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  4. ^ "Arizona State righty is Reds' top pick". Cincinnati.reds.mlb.com. June 19, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  5. ^ "Hamilton Drafted by Reds, Likely Going Pro". Nems360.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  6. ^ "2011 Top 100 Prospects: 41–60". Baseballamerica.com. February 23, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  7. ^ Schoenholtz, David. "Hamilton steals three bags to reach 100". Milb.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  8. ^ "2012 Top 100 Prospects". Baseballamerica.com. February 21, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  9. ^ "2012 Prospect Watch".
  10. ^ Jeff PassanLike0Follow0 (July 9, 2012). "Reds farmhand Billy Hamilton might be the fastest player ever; has 104 stolen bases this year". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  11. ^ "Billy Hamilton Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-reference.com. September 9, 1990. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  12. ^ Sheldon, Mark (October 3, 2012). "Cueto, Arroyo, Latos to start first three of NLDS". MLB.com. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  13. ^ J.J. Cooper (January 9, 2013). "Cincinnati Reds Baseball America top 2013 prospects". Baseballamerica.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  14. ^ "Billy Hamilton Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  15. ^ Warnermuende, Jeremy (September 3, 2013). "Hamilton's speed boosts brilliant Bailey, Reds". MLB.com. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  16. ^ "Billy Hamilton 2013 Batting Gamelogs". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  17. ^ "Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds – Box Score – September 10, 2013 – ESPN". Scores.espn.go.com. September 10, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  18. ^ "Cincinnati Reds vs. Houston Astros – Box Score – September 18, 2013 – ESPN". Scores.espn.go.com. September 18, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  19. ^ "Cincinnati Reds vs. Houston Astros – Recap – September 18, 2013 – ESPN". Scores.espn.go.com. September 18, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  20. ^ ESPN (September 18, 2013). "@ESPNStatsInfo status update". Twitter. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  21. ^ Calcaterra, Craig (September 25, 2013). "Billy Hamilton was thrown out stealing". NBCSports. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  22. ^ Christina, Kahrl (June 27, 2014). "The evolution of Billy Hamilton". ESPN. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  23. ^ Ortiz, Jorge (July 4, 2014). "Billy Hamilton hits the brakes – and then takes off". USA Today. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  24. ^ Fay, John (June 24, 2014). "Is Billy Hamilton the best CF in baseball? Stats say so". Cincinnati.com. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  25. ^ Fay, John (July 6, 2014). "Time to recalibrate expectations for Hamilton". Cincinnati.com. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  26. ^ a b Billy Hamilton Stats | Baseball-Reference.com
  27. ^ CBS Sports (October 23, 2014). "Rawlings announces 2014 Gold Glove finalists". Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  28. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/05/sports/baseball/given-chance-mets-juan-lagares-hauls-in-a-gold-glove.html?_r=0
  29. ^ "White Sox Abreu, Mets' deGrom named Rookies of Year". Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  30. ^ Luas on Twitter: "@HighHeatStats What is the @MLB record for steals in team's first four games?"
  31. ^ Sheldon, Mark (April 10, 2015). "Hamilton setting records, getting wiser with his speed". Major League Baseball. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  32. ^ Statcast Leaderboard | baseballsavant.com
  33. ^ Statcast Sprint Speed Leaderboard | baseballsavant.com
  34. ^ a b Statcast Leaderboard | baseballsavant.com
  35. ^ Statcast Sprint Speed Leaderboard | baseballsavant.com
  36. ^ Sheldon, Mark. "Billy Hamilton steals 200th career base". MLB. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  37. ^ "Billy Hamilton really wants to race the Bengals Draft pick who broke the 40-yard dash record". MLB. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  38. ^ a b Statcast Sprint Speed Leaderboard | baseballsavant.com
  39. ^ Statcast Leaderboard | baseballsavant.com
  40. ^ [1]
  41. ^ Billy Hamilton: Cincinnati Reds part ways with centerfielder
  42. ^ Billy Hamilton cut loose by Cincinnati Reds
  43. ^ Royals sign Billy Hamilton at Winter Meetings | Kansas City Royals
  44. ^ Royals, Hamilton finalize to $ 5.25M contract – Washington Post – Archy news nety

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