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Thread: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Ever since the Reds acquired Josh Hamilton, fans have been mesmerized by the "what if" factor of Hamilton actually making an impact in the lineup for the Reds at some point in their future. With only a handful of minor league games last season, his first real game action in four years, and after years of drug addiction, Hamilton walked into spring training as nothing more than a lottery ticket. A huge talent, yes, but also a huge lottery ticket.

    Of course, so far in spring training, Hamilton's been crushing the ball, and the fascination with his "talent" level has taken off to new heights. Will Hamilton make it? Can Hamilton make it? Nobody knows as it's still way too early to tell, though I will submit that his chances of making the active roster out of spring training are now 100 percent, barring an injury. The Reds have seen what he's capable of, and they're not going to let it go. Given that defensively he can definitely help the team off the bench, I've never been opposed to having Hamilton on the roster. Prior to spring training, I did advocate caution with Hamilton because we really have no idea what to expect. He was a guy with 23 games at the AA level six years ago, and only 15 games period in the minors since 2002.

    But even with my cautionary glance at what Hamilton can provide us, I've observed quite possibly the best thing I could ever hope to observe with Hamilton thus far in spring training ...

    The guy seems to just know the strike zone. And just not know the strike zone like a run-of-the-mill MLB hitter. But really know the strike zone.

    Hamilton's plate appearances, from best as I've been able to observe listening to the radio and hearing his batting counts, has been a clinic full of an ability to recognize balls and strikes. He's displayed an astonishing amount of plate discipline with a remarkable batting eye, and he's shown that he's capable and willing to lay off bad pitches with the sense to get a good pitch to hit. Then when he finds a good pitch to hit, he's able to recognize it and crush it.

    Statistically, Hamilton has three walks in 20 plate appearances thus far in spring training. For those scoring at home, that's a rate of 90 walks over 600 plate appearances (note that this doesn't mean he'll walk 90 times if he finds the plate 600 times, but that's a good rate to see). Even during plate appearances that Hamilton is not walking, my observations this spring have been that he's getting himself into good hitter's counts.

    All the above is a trait of excellent plate discipline, and amazingly Hamilton's showing these traits already during spring training. Any hitter that knows the strike zone and recognizes the difference between balls and strikes gives himself an undeniable advantage to hit major league pitching successfully.

    There is a chance that what we've seen with Hamilton's plate discipline so far is a mirage, and small sample size warnings abound here. But as he strolls to the plate more and more the picture will clear up a bit. I'd love to be able to track every single pitch that Hamilton is seeing this spring training, but unfortunately the box scores are not as detailed for exhibition games. Once the season begins, I'm going to make an effort to track in detail each of Hamilton's plate appearances.

    Likewise, once the season starts, we'll be able to see Hamilton hitting instead of relying on box scores and radio play by play, and we'll have a much better understanding if he really is showing the amount of plate discipline that the stat lines and radio announcers claim.

    Just remember to not yet get carried away and suddenly believe that Hamilton's going to quickly develop into the monster talent that Reds fans are dreaming about. That much being said, we can understand that if he's able to continually display the amount of plate discipline he's already showing early in spring training, his chances of succeeding in the majors (and in a Reds uniform) increase exponentially, and so far that's really all we can ask and hope for.
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    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Phenomenal post cyclone.

    I agree with everything you said. Hamilton just looks so comfortable in the batters box and his knowledge of the strikezone seems to be incredible so far. That plate discipline added with his enormous power makes it nearly impossible not to get excited about him. I think Hamilton is going to make Krivsky look like a genius before long.

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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Cyclone, you consistently make excellent contributions to this board. That was a phenominal post and I think you are dead on with your assessment.
    What if this wasn't a rhetorical question?

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    Manliness Personified HumnHilghtFreel's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=nEStHjYRPys I recorded his last 3 AB's of the night. I didn't think to get his first one, which was a walk, if anyone cares to take a look.

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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    I'm hoping Hamilton works out well for the Reds and develops into the player that he has been projected to be. However, we may be getting a little to excited at this point. There have only been a small number of games and they are spring training games at that. If a star player doesn't do well in spring we shrug it off as spring training, so why should we get so excited about a minor leaguer doing well? I'm trying to pause with Hamilton and wait until later in the spring. If he hits this well the last two weeks of spring training then I think we could really have a good prospect on the team.

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    GR8NESS WMR's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline



    Cyclone =
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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Quote Originally Posted by steig View Post
    I'm hoping Hamilton works out well for the Reds and develops into the player that he has been projected to be. However, we may be getting a little to excited at this point. There have only been a small number of games and they are spring training games at that. If a star player doesn't do well in spring we shrug it off as spring training, so why should we get so excited about a minor leaguer doing well? I'm trying to pause with Hamilton and wait until later in the spring. If he hits this well the last two weeks of spring training then I think we could really have a good prospect on the team.
    Well, I'm specifically looking at his plate approach moreso than his results. The results are nice, and they'll get people excited regardless, but it's Hamilton's approach, eye, and plate discipline that has me thinking, "hey, this guy may have a little better shot than I thought."

    What I originally thought we'd see in Hamilton this spring is a hitter who would have a difficult time judging the strike zone and recognizing the difference between balls and strikes. Lots of hitters can hit 500 foot home runs with batting practice pitches, and Hamilton is undoubtedly one of them, but many of those hitters have a great deal of trouble with live MLB pitching due to just not knowing the strike zone. Even hitters who have no knowledge of the strike zone can get hot for a week or two and benefit from some fortunate breaks. I figured Hamilton would just fit in with this group, and I thought what we'd see quite a bit this spring would be him having trouble recognizing the strike zone and subsequently opting to swing at bad pitches out of the strike zone. It would have been a major sign of a hitter suffering a long layoff from actually playing in games, which Hamilton went through.

    Instead, so far Hamilton has done anything but get himself out on bad pitches out of the strike zone. He's actively working pitchers, laying off bad pitches, actively working the count, getting in good hitting counts, and finding his pitch to hit. This is what I've noticed from him so far, and this is what I'm hoping he's able to continue doing.

    Granted, his total competition on the mound so far is probably AAA or AAAA caliber pitching, but his current level of plate discipline shown has been an asset as well as a pleasant surprise. It's important that he maintains this ability, and if he does, he has a little bit better chance to succeed than I originally thought.
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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Quote Originally Posted by HumnHilghtFreel View Post
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=nEStHjYRPys I recorded his last 3 AB's of the night. I didn't think to get his first one, which was a walk, if anyone cares to take a look.
    Thank you so much for this. First baseball I've seen this year. Also the first time I've ever seen Hamilton bat. I love his stance...he's got a great straight back like Hideki Matsui. Hard to tell from the video but even his run down the first base line makes it look like he has good speed as well.

    Oh and thanks to you too cyclone
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    Miami Redhawks Redhook's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    His stance and swing are much better than I thought they would be. He looks intimidating at the plate. I like that. A lot. Even though he didn't get a hit in those at-bats I like the smoothness to his approach. It's pretty easy to see how and why he was the #1 pick in '99.
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    Granted, his total competition on the mound so far is probably AAA or AAAA caliber pitching, but his current level of plate discipline shown has been an asset as well as a pleasant surprise.
    The important take away, though, is no matter what you think of the competition level he's facing right now, it's better than anything he's previously seen before in his professional career. The calibur of guys (A-AA) that Hamilton was facing before his layoff aren't even in big league camps or playing in spring training games.

    The key to good hitting is learning to recognize the difference between the pitch you can hit and the pitch the pitcher wants you to try hitting. At the base of that skill set is the requirement of knowledge of the strike zone. I'll reserve judgement on Hamilton's proficency with this skill until I can actually watch him in a few ABs on TV or in person -- but if he's advanced along in that skill, the rest will come naturaly with more swings against live pitching.

    I agree with Cyclone, I've got Hamilton as a 100% lock to make the Reds roster at this point.
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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Quote Originally Posted by HumnHilghtFreel View Post
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=nEStHjYRPys I recorded his last 3 AB's of the night. I didn't think to get his first one, which was a walk, if anyone cares to take a look.
    Great video footage!

    Thanks for taking the time to record/post it up.
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    ShadezNation ramp101's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    With all due respect Cyclone, I really don't see how you can seriously tell about his plate discipline and "eye" just by listening on the radio.
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Again to remind...Thom said that there are scouts that said Hamilton was a better prospect than Griffey or A-Rod. These are two guys that were ML ready in their late teens. I am not surprised at all that Hamilton is performing as well as he is given his humble, grounded, and hard-working approach to his game combined with his once-in-a-generation talent. He has a great support system with the Reds with the Narrons. The question is, will Wayne be given credit on RedsZone if Hamilton blooms into a top-notch player for the Reds?
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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Quote Originally Posted by ramp101 View Post
    With all due respect Cyclone, I really don't see how you can seriously tell about his plate discipline and "eye" just by listening on the radio.
    Well, he has 2 strikeouts in 20 plate appearances and 3 walks. If he had bad plate discipline, I would expect to see something like 6 strikeouts and no walks. Take for example Jerry Gil, who has never seen a pitch he didnt like. 13 at bats, 0 walks and 3 strikeouts. It goes right along with his scouting report.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton's Plate Discipline

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelhouse View Post
    Again to remind...Thom said that there are scouts that said Hamilton was a better prospect than Griffey or A-Rod. These are two guys that were ML ready in their late teens. I am not surprised at all that Hamilton is performing as well as he is given his humble, grounded, and hard-working approach to his game combined with his once-in-a-generation talent. He has a great support system with the Reds with the Narrons. The question is, will Wayne be given credit on RedsZone if Hamilton blooms into a top-notch player for the Reds?
    I have to say that those scouts were just wrong.
    Griffey at age 19 - .264, 16 HR and 61 RBI in 455 at bats.
    A-rod at age 19 - .312, 21 HR and 84 RBI in 426 at bats.
    Hamilton at age 19 - .302, 13 HR and 61 RBI in 391 at bats.

    On the surface those numbers are very comparable.
    Then I tell you Griffey played that season in Seattle for the Mariners and Arod ended his season with 120 at bats in AAA where he OPSd .950. Hamilton put up those numbers in Single A. Hamilton may have been very highly touted coming out of HS, but Griffey and Arod were an entirely different breed of player coming out of HS in terms of readiness to step up to the big leagues.

    Oh, and yes Redszone will give Krivsky all the credit in the world for Hamilton. They surely give him credit for Arroyo, Ross and Phillips. They also are sure to give him crap for bad moves he made as well.


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