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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Fay: Billy Hamilton should be upgrade in center

But defensively, we’re not talking about potential. He should be a major upgrade over Shin-Soo Choo in center field. After the two-error game in St. Louis, Choo caught everything he got to. But he didn’t get to a lot of balls because of his lack of speed.

According to fangraphs.com, Choo was the worst center fielder in Major League Baseball in terms of Ultimate Zone Rating at -16.1. Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez was the best at 26.4. A rating of 0.0 is considered average. Hamilton should be close to Gomez.

“I don’t know to quantify all that data and compare and contrast,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “I know that we asked Choo to do something he hadn’t done since 2004 or ’05. I don’t know what the tradeoff is going to be.”

But the Reds are confident in Hamilton’s ability to play center.

“We’re looking at a guy who can play a competitive center field,” Price said. “He’s about a year and a half removed from being an infielder. From everything that we’ve heard from our scouts internally is that he was one of the better center fielders, if not the best, in Triple-A. That’s going to help us immediately.”

Offensively, it’s a given that Hamilton will not get on base as often as Choo. Choo was second in the National League in on-base percentage at .423. Hamilton had an OBP of .308 in Triple-A.

“We might be selling Billy short offensively,” Price said. “What he’s ready to do is take the opportunity and show us what he can do. I’m looking forward to seeing him evolve based on how he’s being pitched, make those adjustments.”

Thanks to MN.

Repoz Posted: March 02, 2014 at 04:33 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds, sabermetrics

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   1. Morph Posted: March 02, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4664956)
I feel like the Reds' are being underrated. The health of their starters may be problematic, but few teams boast a front five with such talent and potential. Even Leake, pretty unheralded, had a 1.2 .WHIP last season. Choo is a significant departure, but Ludwick is returning from his injury, Phillips* and Fraizer could have better offensive seasons, and the Hamilton experiment should be interesting, if nothing else. (Hamilton is also a huge defensive upgrade on Choo) The Reds could definitely win the division.

*One could argue Phillips is simply aging, but '13 was his first ever season with the Reds where he slugged under .400. I think he will rebound near his '12 output.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: March 02, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4664960)
Hamilton should be close to Gomez.


Hamilton will be lucky to be a plus defender. It's ridiculous to put him on par with Gomez. One needs to only look at Vince Coleman to realize that defense isn't all about speed.
   3. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 02, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4664976)
Yeah, isn't there a real question about Hamilton's defense?

I'm surprised about Choo though. I thought he was pretty good defensively.
   4. Baldrick Posted: March 02, 2014 at 05:44 PM (#4664978)
Hamilton will be lucky to be a plus defender. It's ridiculous to put him on par with Gomez. One needs to only look at Vince Coleman to realize that defense isn't all about speed.

Agreed. Gomez probably won't even be close to Gomez this year. He's an excellent defender, but his numbers from last year (at least his BIS numbers) were basically at the limit of possibility. His 38 RField is better than peak Andruw Jones, better than Devon White, better than Gutierrez or Mike Cameron, etc.
   5. Baldrick Posted: March 02, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4664980)
Sidenote: Devon White, based largely on his defense, has a strong case for being one of the 10 best (and possibly 5 best) players in the AL for a few years in the early 90s. Griffey, Thomas, and Ripken are ahead of him in WAR from 91-93 - but not by all that much. And a few pitchers are also a little bit ahead (Appier, Langston, Clemens). That's kind of amazing. I remember him as a solid player but would never have picked him in the top 30 (much less top 10) players in the league at the time.
   6. Moeball Posted: March 02, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4665021)
One needs to only look at Vince Coleman to realize that defense isn't all about speed.


Lonnie "Skates" Smith, Lou Brock.

What is it with fast Cardinal outfielders who still don't field very well?

On the other hand, from what I saw and from what the numbers say it looked like Curt Flood was the real deal worthy of his GGs, and I suppose Jim Edmonds as well, so what made them so much better than their faster counterparts? Did they just position themselves better or get better reads on balls coming off the bat?

I guess that will probably be the real test of Hamilton. For now I guess his speed may be enough to compensate for other mistakes, but we'll see how it plays out. Looking forward to see what he can do.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: March 02, 2014 at 07:38 PM (#4665024)
On the other hand, from what I saw and from what the numbers say it looked like Curt Flood was the real deal worthy of his GGs, and I suppose Jim Edmonds as well, so what made them so much better than their faster counterparts? Did they just position themselves better or get better reads on balls coming off the bat?


Better judgement off the bat and surer hands. And stronger arms.
   8. Greg K Posted: March 02, 2014 at 07:57 PM (#4665032)
I'm surprised about Choo though. I thought he was pretty good defensively.

I think we was well regarded as a RF where he played the vast majority of the time before 2013 (I see he only played 10 games in CF at the major league level before the Reds got him), but in over his head in CF.

For what it's worth Rfield has him as modestly above average in RF over his career (though poor in 2012) and poor in CF last year.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: March 02, 2014 at 08:01 PM (#4665037)
Tim Raines. I don't expect Hamilton to be particularly good defensively this year (average seems reasonable) but he might grow into it over time. ZiPS guesstimates him to a +4 though which is pretty good by its standard, also 2.5 WAR overall.
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 02, 2014 at 08:07 PM (#4665043)
Hamilton should be close to Gomez.

to follow up on cfb the writer is demonstrating galactic level ignorance as not even the REDS are suggesting that hamilton will be anything but ok in center.

and that's likely a bit of a stretch. he doesn't appear to have natural and fluid instincts for the position
   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 02, 2014 at 08:43 PM (#4665068)
Hamilton had an OBP of .308 in Triple-A.

Sounds like Hamilton's defense is the least of his worries.
   12. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 02, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4665076)
Hamilton had an OBP of .308 in Triple-A.


as 11 notes, this. That really should read as..

Hamilton had an OBP of .308..pause for effect....in Triple-A
   13. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:36 AM (#4665180)
That really should read as..

Hamilton had an OBP of .308..pause for effect....in Triple-A


"In history?"
"In Georgia."
   14. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:46 AM (#4665185)
13: Best ESPN commercial no one remembers there. You're doing God's work, son.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:42 AM (#4665203)
I hadn't realized it was that low.

Hamilton really popped on the saber radar when he walked a ton at age 21 (A+/AA). But he didn't walk a lot at 18, 19, 20 or 22. He also has not hit for a high average in the minors. Even if we take his career line to be his AAA line, 280/350/380 still only translates to something around ... what ... 255/315/345? ZiPS likes him a little better than that at 264/319/362. Somehow that translates to a slightly better wOBA than Phillips' 269/317/405 ... does wOBA include baserunning value?

Like I said, ZiPS puts him to 2.5 WAR without assuming a big OBP. Little doubt the Reds should give him his shot. But hard to see him matching Choo's 4.2 WAR.

Anyway, ZiPS likes the Reds offense well enough I guess -- excellent at 1B (but only 5 WAR), good in RF, average at 5 positions and 1 WAR in LF. Bench looks a bit scary and apparently Schumaker should not be allowed to step on the field this year. :-) Staff looks strong -- excellent to average starters all the way down through #5, Chapman ridiculously good and 3 more good relievers. The rest of the pitching looks not so hot but few do after the top 9.
   16. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4665347)
Re 13, 14: Holyfield actually says "in the world?" after Stuart Scott claims Charley Steiner called Holyfield "maybe the 50th-best heavyweight". But, of course that's not the funny part...

Hamilton really popped on the saber radar when he walked a ton at age 21 (A+/AA). But he didn't walk a lot at 18, 19, 20 or 22. He also has not hit for a high average in the minors.


"First base, you cannot steal it, young padawan..."
   17. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4665368)
Re 13, 14: Holyfield actually says "in the world?" after Stuart Scott claims Charley Steiner called Holyfield "maybe the 50th-best heavyweight". But, of course that's not the funny part...


Since we always discuss PED use in baseball and the effects it has on assessment of players both during their careers and afterwards it's probably worth noting that Evander Holyfield's status has absolutely plummeted among boxing historians as a result of his extensive PED use. 15 years ago you could make an argument for Holyfield as a top-20 all-time heavyweight, I doubt anyone is making that case today.
   18. Ron J2 Posted: March 03, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4665387)
#9 Most defensive metrics appear to be missing something important WRT Raines. He did better in DA than other metrics because it took into account that Raines gave up an unusually low number of extra bases when not making the play. Consistent with playing it safe -- conceding a single rather than risking giving up two or more bases in trying to make a tough play.
   19. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: March 03, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4665467)
Re 13, 14: Holyfield actually says "in the world?" after Stuart Scott claims Charley Steiner called Holyfield "maybe the 50th-best heavyweight".


Curses. But thank you for the link to the actual commercial!
   20. Walt Davis Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4665600)
Consistent with playing it safe -- conceding a single rather than risking giving up two or more bases in trying to make a tough play.

Well, maybe metrics are missing something. But I'd imagine it wasn't "playing it safe" it was getting a bad jump but, once he got up to speed ... well, the speed took over. That is, he covered the first 5-10 steps in the same time as the average LF due to a bad jump but the second 5-10 steps like a guy who steals 80 bases a year. I wouldn't be surprised to find this was true of a number of speedy but disappointing OF.
   21. Dan Posted: March 03, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4665693)
I don't understand why the Reds didn't shift Hamilton to CF earlier in his minor league career to get him acclimated and better at the position. It seemed like no one really believed in him as a major league shortstop when we were reading prospect reports on him, and yet the Reds never got him innings in the OF until last year at AAA and in the majors. If they had shifted him in A ball then perhaps we'd be looking at a guy who could actually make use of his wheels to be a +10 glove in CF. Maybe he just doesn't have any particular aptitude for OF play, but even so a few years more experience in the minors certainly would have helped him.
   22. madvillain Posted: March 03, 2014 at 07:10 PM (#4665732)
I am a Hamilton skeptic and posted a bit on him a month or so ago in the last thread on him. Basically it was just a list of speedsters (using the B-Ref index) that managed a positive contribution despite a very low (sub .310) OBP and sub .700 OPS. It can be done, but it takes good defense and a shitload of efficient steals.

We'll see, if he "only" goes 30 for 45 in steals instead of 52 for 58 (or similar) he's going to have a hard time staying in "solid regular" territory with mediocre defense and a sub .310 OBP.

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