SHOULD OF TRAID BILL E. HAMILTON OR NO YES?
My love for Billy Hamilton is not a secret. He’s a crazy-balls amazing athlete, putting up crazy-balls numbers in Advanced A ball, and a genuinely nice guy. He’s easily my favorite prospect in baseball, and I write stuff about him every chance I get.
Last night I was googlin’ some stuff for yet another thing I was writing on Mr. Hamilton when I came across a search result for a Bleacher Report story entitled: Trading Star Prospect Billy Hamilton Is Not the Answer. My second reaction (the first being “What in the actual fuck???”) was “The fact that this article exists implies the existence of people who think trading star prospect Billy Hamilton is the answer!” Lo and behold, a few results down, I found this: Why They Should Look to Shop Prospect Billy Hamilton.
(Have a look at that URL, while you’re at it: it contains “mlb trade rumors is cincinnati shopping billy hamilton.” That’s clown SEO, bro.)
Believe it or not, the body of the actual article was even more hilarious than the premise of the article! Now, something this bad doesn’t deserve a real Fire Joe Morgan-style takedown — in fact, it feels a little like beating up a sleeping baby. But nearly every single sentence of this thing is an absolute gem, so I’m going to annotate it here, in its entirety.
“Billy Hamilton is not a human being.”
We’re off to a good start.
“No, seriously—the guy is Thor. In fact, he probably had to turn down the role in this weekend’s super-duper feel-good flick, ‘The Avengers.’”
Now I’m not usually a fan of comps, because they usually do more harm than good. But as comps go, this is pretty good. First, it’s a cross-race comp, which I always appreciate. Too many scouts and analysts get lazy and comp all slightly built white right-handed pitchers to Tim Lincecum, or all athletic outfielders with power to Justin Upton. So comping Hamilton, who is African-American, to Thor, who is a Norse god, is bold, and I appreciate that.
Also, apparently “The Avengers” had just come out the week before, so clearly, if one were to comp Hamilton to a superhero, it would have to be an Avenger. That’s just science.
I’m picturing the writer with a checklist of all the Avengers heroes:
- Does Hamilton have a rocket-powered metal suit?
- Is Hamilton a doctor who turns into a giant green guy?
- Is he a sexy lady?
- Does he shoot arrows real good?
- Is he a frozen WW2 vet?
- Is he the Norse god of war?
Thor is clearly the least wrong of all those. Plus, Flash or Quicksilver would’ve been too obvious, and Luke Cage would’ve just been racist. So Thor it is!
Also, I’m not sure he knows what a “feelgood movie” is.
“Dudes and dudettes, come now—let’s have a look at the crunches.”
I have no idea what that means!
“Now that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are in the bigs, Billy Hamilton is the most exciting offensive prospect in the minors.”
No argument with that, really. He’s absolutely incredible.
“Better yet, he’s a member of the Bakersfield Blaze, the Class-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.”
I’m not sure how that’s “better yet.” Does a large percentage of this guy’s readership live in California’s central valley?
“Oh, were we talking numbers? Let’s just get this over with.”
We weren’t, actually, but I’ll just chalk that up as a really awkward segue.
“In 23 games, Hamilton is socking a .398 clip.”
I’m not sure what “socking” refers to. The .398 probably refers to batting average, but the word “socking” also suggests slugging. Maybe this guy invented an entirely new offensive metric!
“He’s still striking out too much to be a legit leadoff batter, but he’s taking almost as many free passes as he strikes out.”
Tortured syntax aside, he’s sort of right? Hamilton had 18 Ks vs. 14 walks in April, but was getting on base at a .481 clip. That’s absurd, and good enough for a leadoff hitter in any league, at any level.
“It’s Class-A ball, yes. But it’s only a matter of time before Hamilton joins the Double-A Blue Wahoos in Pensacola, Fla.”
The Blue Wahoos are indeed the AA affiliate of the Reds. I looked it up.
“Hamilton topped all of professional baseball worldwide with 103 stolen bags last season.”
Adding that “worldwide” seems risky. Are we sure that no one on planet Earth had more stolen bases? I wonder if there weren’t some pro ballplayers somewhere in New South Wales engaged in a really epic game of pickle wherein one guy swiped 400-something bags. Personally, I would’ve gone with “Hamilton led all of organized baseball,” just to be on the safe side.
“And guess what? He has stolen 29 bases in 23 games with Bakersfield.”
That’s a lot.
“In the bigs, they play 162 games.”
I looked this up as well, and it is also true.
“If Hamilton were to keep that pace over an entire season, he’d end up with 204, beating Rickey Henderson’s single-season record of 130 by 74 bags.”
True, I guess, but not really relevant or anything.
“Will Hamilton nab more than 200 bases a season? No.”
True, I guess, but not really relevant or anything.
“With a good manager, can he break Henderson’s record? Maybe—he is that fearless on the basepath.”
Not sure what he means by a “good manager.” Does he mean “a good coaching staff”? One that will give him the necessary instruction to become a more effective base-stealer? Or does he mean a “good manager” as in one who lets him run wild, like perennial Manager of the Year candidate Clint Hurdle?
This next sentence might be my favorite of the entire piece. Check it out.
“I’m not a big fan of the slash line, but here goes: .398/.481/.591.”
There are two ways you can parse this: the first is that the writer is not a fan of Billy Hamilton’s slash line, but that’s belied by what follows. So this can only mean that he’s not a fan of the slash line as a stat.
I mean, all the slash line tells you is exactly how good a hitter is, and why would you possibly want to know that?
“For those of you who read this—thanks, mom and dad—that is the batter’s average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. In other words, Hamilton is knocking the snot out of the ball. He will, at 21 years old, be in Louisville—the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate—by the end of the season.”
I wonder if the Reds front office knows that.
“So why even entertain the thought of trading such talent?
Hamilton is blocked at short.”
The guy at high-A is being blocked by the guy in the bigs, three levels away. The only alternative that I can see is to trade Hamilton, or possibly to have Zack Cozart killed to open up the shortstop spot.
“There was talk last season of moving him to second, but with Brandon Phillips’ new contract, it’s safe to say that talk is as done as a “Walking Dead” zombie with a knife to the noggin.”
Timely pop-culture reference!
BR writer is right about Hamilton being blocked in the middle infield for the foreseeable future. But in reality, Hamilton is at least two and probably three years away from being an everyday big-leaguer, and ALL KINDS OF STUFF can happen in three years. Cozart could die in a mysterious automobile accident, Phillips could sustain a career-ending injury, Hamilton could move to center field… Freeing up blocked prospects is not a problem we need you to solve, pal. Depth is good.
“Hamilton has tremendous value, so maybe the Reds won’t need to trade him this season. And Walt Jocketty had better make sure he gets a talented vet in return—preferably an American League superstar.”
Yes, because… Wait, what? You think you can get a SUPERSTAR in return for a guy who’s never played above A-BALL? What color is the sky in your world? And why does it have to be an American League superstar, huh? NL superstar not good enough for you? McCutchen? Wright? Nah, those guys are chumps. I’m holding out for Mike Trout or Josh Hamilton. Yeah. Hamilton for Hamilton. It’s perfect!
“The only negative concerning Hamilton is his defense. He’s got a rifle-shooter arm, but unfortunately, his hands are made of Play-Doh.”
I’m not sure where BR writer got this info, none of those statements is true. There are lots of negatives about Hamilton. He doesn’t have a strong arm, which is why they’re considering moving him off of shortstop. He does have average-ish hands and fielding actions.
Also, as someone pointed out on Twitter, wouldn’t soft Play-Doh hands be considered a good thing for a fielder?
“And on a team that prides itself on defense, Hamilton is not a good fit.”
Seems to me like an above-average defensive team could easily absorb a guy with average or below-average defense if he were an offensive force. Also, the Reds may pride themselves on defense, but I can’t find any metrics that suggest they’re any better than an average defensive team.
“Who knows, maybe he’ll learn an outfield position—but that is highly unlikely.”
Says a guy whose All Time Sports Moment is “That Russian dude beating the U.S. men’s team by shooting a length-of-the-courter in the ‘72 or ‘68 Olympics.”
“The rook, Cozart, already looks like he has five years under his belt, and not in a cocky way; more in the way of calmness, coolness and confidence.”
Just like a young Derek Jeter. Remember Derek Jeter? Calm eyes, clear hearts, can’t lose.
“Cozart is fielding his position well, he is hitting and through April he is the front-runner for the NL Rookie of the Year Award.”
Sounds a little nuts now, but at the time this was written, Bryce Harper had just been called up and had only played a couple of games, and Cozart was the clear NL ROY leader. Cozart should get some votes this year, but it’s Harper’s award to lose.
“The Reds should wait until next year to trade Hamilton; I guarantee Baseball America will have him ranked as one of the top three prospects. They just love 5-tool players—even if they only have four of the five.”
Marinate on that last sentence for a while. Chew it. Swirl it around in your mouth. Try and figure out what it means. Now.
The five tools are: hit (for average), hit for power, field, throw, run. BR writer seems to be suggesting that Billy Hamilton has at least four of these, and we can assume Hamilton’s Play-Doh hands mean “fielding” is the one he lacks. So that means he hits for average (remember he was “socking” .398 earlier in the year), hits for power (nope!), has at least a 60-grade arm (nope!), and can run (yes, nothing is easier than throwing an “80” on Hamilton’s speed).
Really, Hamilton has one crazy elite tool (speed) and you just hope the others will play up enough so he can be a legit big-leaguer. The hit tool has come a long way in a season and a half, and projects to be above average, but he’s got a lot left to prove. Glove and arm are fringey, and power is nonexistent. So calling him even a four-tool player is preposterous. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on everyone’s 2013 top 10 prospect list.
“Billy Hamilton, as great of an offensive player as he will be, is just too laughable with the glove to stay with Cincinnati.”
This isn’t a conclusion as much as it is a written mic drop. “I PROVED MY POINT, BITCHES, BOOM.” Except that you didn’t. You made a ridiculous assertion, backed it up with more assertions pulled straight out of your ass, provided no data or insight, and gave it an SEO-friendly URL and title so that it shows up on the first page of Google results so unsuspecting saps like me end up finding it and wasting their entire morning dismantling it.