Billy Hamilton pushed his OBP to a career-best .321 last season -- a 47-point jump from 2015 -- and that improvement was fueled by his second straight season with an increased walk rate (7.8 percent). He also maintained his improved efficiency as a basestealer, going 58-for-66 on the heels of his 57-for-65 mark in 2015. Finally, Hamilton hit the ball on the ground more frequently last season (47.7 percent groundball rate), which allowed him to use his speed to push his batting average to a career-high .260. Health is a major issue for Hamilton, as he returned from offseason shoulder surgery to begin 2016, and proceeded to lose time due to a concussion, thumb contusion, minor knee injury and an oblique injury that eventually shut him down for good. Hamilton declared himself to be healthy in December, and the skills growth he showed last season points to a potential spike in the stolen-base department if he can avoid the injury bug.
Hamilton is expected to lead off this season according to manager Bryan Price, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Hamilton's jaw-dropping speed makes this a logical move, especially after his OBP increased by 47 points to .321 last season. Fantasy players can just about put 50 stolen bases in Sharpie when they draft him, though he's unlikely to excel in any other category.
Hamilton agreed to a one-year, $2.625 million contract with the Reds on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Hamilton upped his on-base percentage by nearly 50 points last season, as he walked at an increased rate and hit the ball on the ground more frequently. In turn, he was able to better capitalize on his elite speed -- Hamilton finished with a career-high 58 stolen bases in just 119 games. He said in December that he's fully recovered from the oblique injury which cost him the final month.
Hamilton said Friday that he feels fully recovered from the left oblique injury which ended his 2016 season, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. The oblique strain knocked him out of action in early September, cutting short what was a very positive campaign for Hamilton, offensively. Hamilton upped his on-base percentage by nearly 50 points from 2015 and improved his groundball rate by five percent while swiping 55-plus bags for a third consecutive season. He continued to provide stellar defense in center field, making him an attractive trade target for other teams as he enters his first winter of arbitration eligibility. According to Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds are listening but would have to be "really, really motivated by an offer" to trade Hamilton.
It now 'sounds unlikely' that Hamilton (left oblique) will be able to return this season, Zach Buchanan from the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. At this point in the season we've seen satisfactory progress from Hamilton at the plate, and there's no urgent need to bring him out at anything less than full capacity, at least from the Reds point of view.
Hamilton (left oblique) was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday. The move is retroactive to Sept. 5, and does not impact a potential return date for Hamilton, as he was not expected to return from a strained oblique until sometime next week, at the earliest. Jose Peraza has been manning center field and doing a solid job (.324/.350/.410 and 15 steals in 183 plate appearances this season) in his absence.