31 Mar

just get on base

Billy Hamilton certainly has had an impact in the big leagues. In 279 games over parts of three seasons in Cincinnati, the ex-Taylorsville High star has 126 stolen bases and 137 runs. He also makes a lot of catches in center field. But he could do so much more. As a rival scout notes in the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview issue (March 28), Hamilton needs to draw more walks and learn how to bunt. Hamilton, a .242 career hitter, has walked just 64 times in over 1,000 plate appearances. On the occasion when he puts down just a decent bunt, he is impossible to throw out. (Two years ago in spring training, batting lefty, he was timed at 3.3 seconds to first base. That is “ludicrous speed,” to borrow from Space Balls.) Coming back from shoulder surgery, Hamilton has eased into this spring. For what it’s worth, his numbers aren’t great. After a 2-for-5 effort on Wednesday, he is batting .195. He has one walk in 42 plate appearances. He has only tried one steal – yes, he made it – but he has flashed his speed with two triples and four doubles among his eight hits. There’s something about Hamilton – all 160 pounds of him – that makes you want to pull for him. If Hamilton can just get on base a little more, he could be an All-Star. As that scout writes in SI: “I’ll take the bet on him.” P.S. Jose Peraza, the former Mississippi Braves standout, is having a great camp with the Reds as he tries to make the roster as a super utility player. Peraza, batting .305, has played shortstop, second base, center field and left field. He’s not as fast as Hamilton, obviously, but he can also fly.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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