If you’re not familiar with Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton, allow us to introduce him.
Billy Hamilton is the man responsible for turning seemingly impossible catches in the outfield into awe-inspiring realities, even if it requires climbing a padded wall in the midst of procuring the baseball. In fact, he’s turned it into a form of art.
The sensational outfielder has put together a defensive highlight reel that ranks among the most impressive in MLB today. He added to that reel in spectacular fashion during Friday’s Reds 9-1 win against the St. Louis Cardinals. In the seventh inning, Hamilton scaled the center field wall at Busch Stadium to rob Matt Carpenter of a home run and complete what might go down as the best catch of the MLB season.
It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing either. Hamilton didn’t get a great read off the bat and got completely turned around during his pursuit. However, he was able to quickly recover and get in position to climb the wall and catch the ball, bringing Carpenter’s home run back with him.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, it’s the third home run robbery of Hamilton’s career and his first since April 15, 2016. Ironically, that also came at the expense of Matt Carpenter at Busch Stadium.
It’s not just about robbing home runs though. Hamilton can climb the wall to take away doubles and triples too. He did exactly that last August when he dug his foot in the wall at Great American Ballpark and robbed Carlos Asuaje of the San Diego Padres with his back to the infield.
Hamilton’s lightning speed and spectacular defense have been the saving grace of his MLB career. Offensively, he’s yet to put it together, hitting above .250 just once during his first five full seasons. When he does get on base, he’s a professional wreaker of havoc, scoring from first base on wild pitches and racking up an average of 69 steals every 162 games.
He’s a difference maker on defense too, ranging far and wide to make some of the best plays we’ve seen in recent years.
Some might be disappointed that Hamilton hasn’t developed into a more complete player. However, as long as he’s making plays with his feet and turning in play of the year candidates on defense, he will continue having a place in MLB.
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