In the race for National League Rookie of the Year, there is Billy Hamilton and then there is every other National League rookie in a very distant second.
Numbers don't lie. Either do our eyes. Hamilton has without a doubt been the best rookie in the Senior Circuit this season. So it should come as no surprise that ESPN's Jayson Stark dubbed Hamilton as his NL ROY for the first half.
Here is what Mr. Stark had to say about the speedster from Mississippi:
If there were a Most Fun NL Rookie to Watch award, Hamilton wouldn't just be sprinting away with it; he'd be handing out lollipops and chocolate bars to every voter. "Everything he does is fun to watch," said one scout. "I love just watching him run down the line on a three-hopper to the second baseman, because I'm thinking, 'You'd better hurry.'" But what we're learning with every game he plays is that there's so much more to Hamilton than his supersonic wheels. Did you know that less than two years after the Reds converted him from shortstop, he's leading all regular big league center fielders in pretty much every defensive metric on earth? Did you know he's also figuring it out at the plate -- to the point where his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage have all jumped by at least 20 points in every full month of the season? Did you know that since June 10, he's hit .333/.365/.550, with more home runs (three) than Miguel Cabrera (two)? And did you know that if he can bounce back from that sore hamstring and steal three more bases this weekend, he'll be only the fourth rookie in history to swipe 40 or more before the All-Star break? [The rest of that relay team: Vince Coleman (63), Tim Raines (50) and Juan Samuel (40)]. Now, maybe in three months, Gregory Polanco will be making this decision a lot more complicated. But halfway through a highly entertaining season, Billy Hamilton is (what else?) running away with this award.
The only other player who might garner some consideration for this award if it were voted on today is Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings (.277/6/21). But Owings hasn't played in a game since June 25 due to being on the disabled list. And you cannot help your case to win an award for playing ability while sitting on the sidelines.