Billy Hamilton is fast.  If you watched last night’s Reds/Giants game, you can probably agree that Billy is the reigning world champion of turning routine singles into extraordinary doubles.  But what Billy’s been doing at the plate over the past week or so isn’t nearly as flashy or celebrated.

Over the past 7 games in which Billy batted .320 (8-for-25) with just 4 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances, he missed just 2 of the 39 pitches he swung at (5.1%; league average during that span is 22.9%).  Since Billy is arguably the fastest guy in baseball, Reds fans would prefer he put the ball in play; well, he’s done just that.  Over his previous 14 games, he’s put 21 of 38 swings in play vs right handed pitchers, which ranks 3rd among 215 full-time MLB players.

Billy is a switch hitter who has only come to the plate on the right side (vs lefties) 18 times so far in 2016.  He’s 5-for-17 vs southpaws (.294, .922ops) and only once went down on strikes.

Of the 104 pitches he’s seen out of the strike zone against right handers this year, Billy (batting from the left side) has swung at just 19 of them.  That’s 18.3% – good for the 13th-lowest such percentage of 220 full time Major League batters.

Billy has been laying off bad pitches, not missing the good ones and putting the ball in play (63.9 ground ball pct). Sure, he could probably stand to improve on 2-strike counts (2-for-32, .062) but even in that situation, he’s putting the ball in play and his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) with 2 strikes will probably go up from its current “tough luck” mark of .056.

Hamilton hasn’t drawn a walk since April 14 and averages 3.84 pitches per plate appearance (3.69 in 2015). But because he isn’t striking out and isn’t swinging at bad pitches, one could draw the conclusion that he’s seeing mostly pitches in the zone; pitches he can do something with.

Perhaps this is the year he turns the corner as a big league hitter.


1 Comment

I would like to see Billy use a bigger bat, choke up and slap the ball. He’s way down on the knob. Can’t argue with recent success, one week does not a career make. But over the long haul, putting the ball on the ground and using his legs would greatly enhance his long term success.

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