Billy Hamilton may be the fastest man in MLB and a base stealing threat every time he reaches base, but his problem so far has been just that — getting on base. His offensive game is a work in progress to put it gently, and, at times, a sight for sore eyes to put it bluntly.
His .176/.222/.255 slash line entering play on Saturday just about covers it.
With that in mind, his matchup on Friday against Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija was not a pretty one on paper for Hamilton, and in his plate appearance leading off the ballgame we saw why.
To his credit, Hamilton did work the count to 3-2, but the second it ended you almost wondered if Samardzija was toying with him. That's how badly the Reds rookie was fooled by the pitch selection on a 91 mph fastball. Hamilton was obviously looking and perhaps hoping against all hope for something offspeed. When he didn't get it, he wasn't ready to adjust, because he gave one of the worst flails disguised as a swing you'll ever see.
It was a simply feeble attempt to slap the ball foul at the last second like longtime Dodgers outfielder Brett Butler used to do so expertly.
It's the right idea, of course. As a leadoff hitter, Hamilton wants to make the opposing pitcher work a bit, spoil a few pitchers if possible, and find a way on base so he can wreak havoc with his legs. But obviously that part of his game will need some serious refinement if he hopes to make the impact the Reds are anticipating.
At 23, he has plenty of time to do just that.
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