Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, who once appeared to be a lock for the National League Rookie of the Year award, came up short in the end. Hamilton, Cincinnati’s center fielder, lost out to New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, who got 26 of the 30 first-place votes from media members. No Mississippi native has won the rookie award in either league since it was first instituted in 1947 to honor Jackie Robinson. (Ex-Ole Miss star Chris Coghlan, who is from Florida, won the NL award in 2009.) Hamilton, who faded in the latter part of the season, hit .250 with 56 steals and 72 runs in 152 games. P.S. On the list of minor league free agents with Mississippi ties is Matt Tolbert, the former Ole Miss standout from McComb. Tolbert, who broke into pro ball in 2004 and has 247 MLB games on his ledger, batted .172 in 21 games in Double-A with Philadelphia this season. He might be done. Also out there are Alcorn State alumnus Corey Wimberly (in Minnesota’s system in 2014), UM product Cody Overbeck (San Diego), Jackson native Donnie Veal (Chicago White Sox) and former Ole Miss star Justin Henry (Boston).
Still think Billy Hamilton will win the National League Rookie of the Year award. But it has become a competitive race. Jacob DeGrom, David Peralta and perhaps even Yangervis Solarte may garner support from voters down the stretch. Former Taylorsville High star Hamilton, Cincinnati’s leadoff batter and center fielder, has 56 stolen bases. That’s his eye-grabbing number. He has also hit a surprising six home runs, scored 72 times and driven in 48 runs in 147 games. Plus, he’s played great defense. But a September swoon (.146) has pulled his batting average down to .256, and his on-base percentage is a weak .298. He also has been caught stealing 23 times. DeGrom has surged of late and has posted an 8-6 record with a 2.68 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 134 1/3 innings for the New York Mets. Playing in the Big Apple also helps the shaggy-haired right-hander. Peralta, an outfielder for Arizona, is batting .293 (.326 OBP) with seven homers, 34 RBIs, 38 runs and nine triples. And then there’s Solarte, San Diego’s third baseman, who is batting .263 with 10 homers, 48 RBIs and 53 runs. Hamilton may need to lean hard at the tape to pull this win out.
He has 88 hits, 43 runs, 37 stolen bases, 36 RBIs, 18 doubles, five triples, five home runs and … one walk-off single. Billy Hamilton, the Taylorsville Tornado, delivered his first game-winner in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night, giving Cincinnati a thrilling 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Hamilton also had an RBI triple and made a great catch in center field as the Reds, on another run, rallied from a 5-0 deficit and completed a twinbill sweep at Great American Ballpark. Cincinnati has won four straight games to climb to 48-42 and is within 3½ games of first-place Milwaukee in the National League Central. The Reds look like a playoff contender again, and Hamilton, the NL’s rookie of the month in June, looks like a strong rookie of the year candidate.