JABO: Billy Hamilton Should Work on His Bunting

Billy Hamilton is the fastest player in baseball. He’s done some remarkable things on the field with his legs, including scoring on a pop-up that barely left the infield. He currently leads the majors in stolen bases with 17 thefts, and only 12 teams have stolen more bases this year than Hamilton has himself. His speed is a weapon, and when he gets on base, good things happen for the Cincinnati Reds.

But he isn’t getting on base very often. He’s currently hitting just .202 with a .259 on base percentage. That Hamilton has stolen 17 bases while only reaching via a hit or walk 35 times is a testament to just how fast he is, but while the Reds will take the stolen bases, what they really need is for Hamilton to simply reach first base more often. And there’s one very clear way for that to happen: he needs to get better at bunting.

From a quantity perspective, no one tries more often than Hamilton, as he put down his 10th bunt of the season in the first inning of last night’s contest with the Braves. However, it took him until that 10th attempt to get his first bunt hit of the year, and a less generous official scorer might have ruled it an E-5 after Alberto Callaspo mishandled his attempt to scoop it off the grass. Before last night, Hamilton both led the league in bunt attempts while also last in the league in bunt hits, which is not a combination you’d expect from the fastest guy in baseball.

On the one hand, you’d think that maybe Hamilton is just having trouble bunting his way on board because defenses expect him to try and are aggressively positioning their defense to defend against it, but the evidence suggests that this is just good old-fashioned lousy execution. For example, here are three of his previous attempts earlier this season.

Read the rest on Just a Bit Outside.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Gary
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Gary

Worth noting that everyone else on that list except Segura is either a switch-hitter or bats left handed. Hamilton may be faster than all of them but probably not fast enough to make up for the 5 foot head start the lefties get out of the box. Bunting from the left side is a big advantage.

Greg
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Greg

Hamilton is a switch hitter.

tz
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tz

As a natural righty, Hamilton can square the ball adequately from the right side but has almost no pop from the left side, and pitchers seem to be attacking that.

I think he really needs to work extra-hard on his bunting from the left side, since that’s where he gets the most bang for the buck. Even if it means he puts in ALL his extra bunting practice as a lefty.

Otis
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Otis

6 of his 8 homeruns have been while batting lefty..