Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Buster Olney extremely bullish on Billy Hamilton

There are a lot of people excited to see what Billy Hamilton can do in his first full season in the major leagues. And although some remain skeptical about how productive he can be, ESPN's Buster Olney seems very bullish on the young outfielder, especially as it pertains to Hamilton's worth in fantasy baseball leagues.

In his recent column, Olney tabbed Hamilton as the top player he would reach for in a fantasy draft, because he's willing to bet that the switch-hitter is going to smash expectations in 2014. Olney even went as far as saying he thinks Hamilton can be to stolen bases and Craig Kimbrel is to saves. That's quite a compliment in its own right.

Here's more on what Olney wrote about Hamilton:

You cannot have the sort of success that Hamilton has had running the bases without being armed with a special kind of confidence -- a unique competitive arrogance. When Hamilton gets thrown out, he runs again, and again, and again, successfully. 

Hamilton already is regarded as a strong defender. The question is whether the switch-hitter will hit enough to be effective, particularly as a left-handed hitter, and the Reds have been working with him on his bunting. If Hamilton can generate an on-base percentage between .300 and .320, that will be the usual fare for leadoff hitters. But remember, a .300 on-base percentage for Hamilton means something different than it does for other hitters, because his walks and singles tend to result in him quickly winding up on second or third base, and some Dodgers spoke this spring about how Hamilton’s presence on the bases changes everything -- the pace of the game, the pressure on the pitcher and the infielders.

I bet Hamilton will have his share of slumps, and if he posted a .320 on-base percentage as a rookie, he’d be worthy of a parade; he is a young, developing player. But remember that incredibly deep confidence he possesses, his past ability to meet every challenge -- whether it’s climbing through the minors, switching positions or being used in a specialized role as a pinch runner last fall. Hamilton got into 13 games, stole 13 bases and was thrown out once, scoring nine runs. 

Hamilton could be to stealing bases what Craig Kimbrel is to relief work, and I bet he scores a lot of runs. I bet he’ll be ranked much higher than No. 164 a year from now based on the work he will do this season. 

Let's hope Mr. Olney is correct in his prognostication. Either way it sounds like Reds fans are in for plenty of excitement thanks to Hamilton's swiftly legs.

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