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2014 in Review: Billy Hamilton

Not bad, Hamknuckle, not bad at all.

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Rob Carr

The short story: An expectedly below-average OBP, a weird number of homers, good-if-not-otherwordly baserunning, borderline-otherwordly defense. Billy Hamilton had a pretty darn decent start to his career!

It could have been better. As has been mentioned, he was at .285/.319/.423 at the break and a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year, and after a woeful second half that may not happen. He was caught stealing a whopping 23 times to go with 56 stolen bases, which is a bit below break-even.

Hamilton's still got a lot to learn. His 5.6% walk rate is way too low and the lowest it's ever been. He showed not-terrible power and I think deflected concerns of the bat getting knocked out of his hands, but he still is swinging at 1/3 pitches out of the strike zone. I'm not sure how much was pitch recognition and how much was a mandate to be aggressive, but hopefully things will get figured out and he'll get walking at more like a ~8% clip. He really needs to get on base at a league-average rate to be the weapon he was born to be.

On the other hand, whew-ee for his second full season playing centerfield he played an incredible centerfield. Hopefully that will remain a calling card going forward.

Billy Hamilton may not ever get on base at a .350 clip, but he is good at enough other things for that to not be a problem (even batting leadoff). His defense helps make him part of the team. I'm starting to wonder if his stolen base acumen would be better-served at the bottom of the order, what with Votto/Bruce/Fraizer/Mesoraco hitting doubles all the time at the top, but the offense isn't really good enough to worry about order. Dude just needs to get on base.

Hamilton was a valuable starter enough with a .292 OBP. If he can walk more and get some BABIP luck (he was at .304 in 2014, with 17 bunts on 52 bunt attempts), he's looking at a 4-WAR season. That would be pretty rad, rather than the somewhat-rad he already is at age 23.