The Chicago White Sox edged the Minnesota Twins by a score of 4-2 on Thursday for their sixth straight win (box score). Lance Lynn gave up one unearned run in five innings to drop his ERA to 1.30 for the season, and Tim Anderson and Jake Lamb each homered.
Also central to the Chicago win was fly-catcher Billy Hamilton. Without his two clutch grabs in center, the Sox very likely don't win this game. The first came in the fourth, when Hamilton at the wall made a leaping catch of Kyle Garlick's drive with the bases loaded and two outs. Then in the eighth, Hamilton ranged deep to his right to take away extras bases and probably multiple RBI from Luis Arraez. Have a look:
Hamilton has elite sprint speed and has long been a standout defender in the outfield. As White Sox color commentator Steve Stone noted on that second catch, Hamilton also boasts an incredibly quick first step. It's because of that jump and that speed that the second catch wasn't more acrobatic -- a less skilled defender might have to dive for that one (and probably wouldn't catch it).
Hamilton, now 30 and pressed into semi-regular duty only because of major injuries to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, is always going to be a banjo hitter. However, he adds value on the bases, and he can go and get it in the outfield. On Thursday, that latter skill preserved the Chicago lead on two occasions. In the process, he helped Lynn join elite franchise company:
The Sox boast MLB's best record and best run differential, and that's largely because they lead the AL in ERA and rank third on offense in OPS. Fielding has not been a relative strength, as the Sox are a tick below the league average in Defensive Efficiency, which is the percentage of balls in play that are converted into outs. Hamilton on Thursday, though, defied that trend in a major way.