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Thread: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Here's a quick look at what to many of us is the feel good hit of the spring (and hopefully the feel good hit of the summer). With opening day rapidly approaching, just what has spring training told us about Josh Hamilton?

    First there is the caveat-spring training stats generally mean nothing. But with Hamilton basically all we have are scouting reports that predate his off the field problems and his spring training numbers to provide a glimpse of the player that has emerged from addiction (ignoring the handful of at bats he got at A- ball last year).

    Overall this spring, Hamiltonís triple slash stats look impressive thru 62 at bats:

    .403/.532/.565; BABIP: .471

    Lines like this lend credence to the notion that Hamilton should be given a starting job in centerfield or have his plate appearances maximized until he proves otherwise.

    But a deeper look suggests there is some cause for pause.

    Itís potentially informative to break spring training up into halves with unproven players because clearly the quality of pitching increases as opening day approaches. For instance, as spring training drags on (and I do mean drags on....), younger developing arms get optioned to the minors and established major league pitchers see more innings and begin throwing their full pitch arsenals etc.

    Here are Hamiltonís spring numbers split in half by date:

    March 1 thru 14 (36 PA)

    .586/.647/.931; BABIP: .640

    So far, so good. That looks phenomenal.

    March 15 thru 27 (34 PA)

    .242/.306/.333; BABIP: .333

    Those numbers are not nearly as encouraging as there is a decided lack of power and his OBP is bad. Interestingly, his BABIP was .333 which is still higher than normal (normal being .290-.310 for major league hitters), so he hasnít been hit unlucky during the second half of spring.

    It bears repeating that generally spring training stats should be taken with a grain of salt but often roster decisions are made in part due to performances during this period. This despite the small sample sizes and questions concerning how relevent the opposing talent levels were to real mlb games. What then does Hamiltonís spring performance thus far tell us?

    Basically I think this much is certain-he has earned the 25th spot on the roster. However, primarily itís his defense that has allowed him to do so. His glove, legs, and arm strength are certainties barring injury. The scouting reports have been verified in that regard and considering all are thought to be above league average, it's this defensive skillset that makes him a better option than Hopper or Wise at this point. On the other hand, Hamiltonís spring has done nothing to erase the doubts about his bat or suggest how much his bat can be counted upon to produce. Penciling him in as a significant starter or even suggesting that he should be allowed to get significant PAís until he fails really is unwarranted at this point. He still has a lot to prove. Making him prove that his bat isnít ready yet probably does nothing to help the Reds nor does it help Hamiltonís development.

    Hereís to hoping he goes on a tear during this last week of spring trainingÖ.

    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Puffy's Daddy Red Leader's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Nice post, jojo, and interesting information.

    Hamilton's defense is better than I had thought and I knew he was pretty good in the field. I just didn't think he was as good as he is.

    I think his bat will come around, but probably slower than many anticipate. I think it'll be a couple years yet before we see his true offensive ceiling.
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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Josh is a complete unknown outside of being a decent OF with a great arm. We really have no idea how his ST performance will translate once the flag drops on the season.

    He has talent but it seems unreasonable to expect that he will be any kind of offensive force this season.
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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    I kinda hope and anticipate Hamiltons career being similar to Dave Concepcions. Early in his career Concepcion was a very weak hitting SS but was outstanding with the glove. As Concepcion matured his hitting dramatically improved and was the premier hitting SS in MLB for a time. Hopefully the same thing will happen to Hamilton. His glove alone shows he belongs and with his natural swing that we have all seen I really thinks its just a matter of time before he begins excelling offensively.
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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    The other thing Hamilton has going for him is his speed. In addition to his defense it really helps justify his place on the roster as the 25th man.
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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro View Post
    The other thing Hamilton has going for him is his speed. In addition to his defense it really helps justify his place on the roster as the 25th man.

    Ya....I kind of broke defense into legs and arms but really didn't highlight the value his legs could have in other situations. It's a good point.


    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Basically I think this much is certain-he has earned the 25th spot on the roster. However, primarily it’s his defense that has allowed him to do so. His glove, legs, and arm strength are certainties barring injury. The scouting reports have been verified in that regard and considering all are thought to be above league average, it's this defensive skillset that makes him a better option than Hopper or Wise at this point. On the other hand, Hamilton’s spring has done nothing to erase the doubts about his bat or suggest how much his bat can be counted upon to produce. Penciling him in as a significant starter or even suggesting that he should be allowed to get significant PA’s until he fails really is unwarranted at this point. He still has a lot to prove. Making him prove that his bat isn’t ready yet probably does nothing to help the Reds nor does it help Hamilton’s development.
    Disagree on two significant fronts --

    1. Hamilton's performance at the plate shows that he can handle major league pitching to the extent that at the very least he won't embarrass himself. This DOES erase the doubts about his bat, starting the moment he signed, which amounted to "he has no chance at all."

    2. Hamilton's development WILL be aided by ABs at the major league level. I don't see how you can argue otherwise. Reps = learning.

    Ultimately, you have to decide if it's important in 07 to try to help Hamilton develop while with the Reds. If not, you give him about 100ABs and let him play some late-inning defense and pinch run. Then, you send him to winter ball and/or the Arizona Fall League. If you do, and I do, you give him occasional starts around the OF and make him first in line if someone gets hurt. A minimum of 250-300 ABs, but possibly more if he's doing OK.

    The belief that Hamilton is better than a 5th outfielder takes into account more than an analysis of his spring numbers, though those numbers are very good. It is based on his prospect pedigree, which is as good as it gets, anecdotal information from professionals on the ground in Florida, which are glowing, and an assessment of the Reds OF situation going forward. Griffey is fragile and likely to fade at the plate, perhaps precipitously. Dunn is a FA after 08 (after 07 if the Reds don't re-up him at $13MM). It makes sense to see if Hamilton can be a power source at an OF corner (or even CF) sooner rather than later, and I don't think you accomplish that by relegating him to pinchrunning and 9th inning defense. This is potentially a core player, in my opinion -- so if you're going to keep him at the major league level, and it looks as if the Reds will have to do that, you might as well give him reps, because the chances of this team being a contender look better for 2008-2010 than they do for this year, especially if Hamilton can be the player many think he can be.
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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    Dunn is a FA after 08 (after 07 if the Reds don't re-up him at $13MM). It makes sense to see if Hamilton can be a power source at an OF corner (or even CF) sooner rather than later
    God, I love Hamilton, but I never considered that his success may eventually mean the end for Dunn on this team. I don't know if I could handle that.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    The way it looks to me the Reds could be hopelessly out of it by the ASB which would give them he opportunity to give Hamilton more playing time.
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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    If hamilton is part of the future, which I think he is if he makes the team, then he needs at bats. You can make the argument that he should only be a 5th outfielder but I think he needs to be more. Do the spring stats show how he is hitting the ball? Does it show whether he is driving the ball to all fields or whether he is only puling the ball? You can also make the argument that Deno should be the 4th outfielder but I would venture to say that Hamilton can outperform Deno in every aspect except for maybe seasoning. Is Hamiton an unknown, yes but it is also unknown how many times Freel is going ot crash into a wall/player. It is unknown whether Deno is a bonified major league outfielder. If you ask me I would rather roll the dice with Hamilton then play Freel or Deno.

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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Another factor that no one has brought up are the shin splints he has been suffering in the second half of the season. Tenderness in his legs is going to affect his follow through on his swing and his stance in general. This could be a contrbuting factor to his "second spring slump"
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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    Disagree on two significant fronts --

    1. Hamilton's performance at the plate shows that he can handle major league pitching to the extent that at the very least he won't embarrass himself. This DOES erase the doubts about his bat, starting the moment he signed, which amounted to "he has no chance at all."
    Doesn't that depend upon which you believe/weigh more?

    March 1 thru 14 (36 PA)

    .586/.647/.931; BABIP: .640

    March 15 thru 27 (34 PA)

    .242/.306/.333; BABIP: .333


    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    2. Hamilton's development WILL be aided by ABs at the major league level. I don't see how you can argue otherwise. Reps = learning.
    Worst case scenario, Hamilton is owned by major league pitching. I don't really see how that helps his development. That being said, Bavasi agrees with your philosophy on player development.

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    Ultimately, you have to decide if it's important in 07 to try to help Hamilton develop while with the Reds. If not, you give him about 100ABs and let him play some late-inning defense and pinch run. Then, you send him to winter ball and/or the Arizona Fall League. If you do, and I do, you give him occasional starts around the OF and make him first in line if someone gets hurt. A minimum of 250-300 ABs, but possibly more if he's doing OK.
    Obviously since Hamilton is in essence glued to the roster, the Reds would like to develop him every chance they got. But you're mixing two issues. The goal of developing Hamilton doesn't trump the primary goal of winning. If Hamilton doesn't give the Reds the best chance to win, then giving him significant playing time can't be justified unless the Reds reach a point where winning really isn't an issue (Nate Silver seems to be suggesting that point might be June). That's the downside to rule five. It's very possible that Hamilton's development may be stunted by the need to keep him on the roster in order to keep him period. It's likely that the worst thing that can happen to Hamilton would be another repeat of the Reds season circa '06 (i.e. they hang around a long time).

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    The belief that Hamilton is better than a 5th outfielder takes into account more than an analysis of his spring numbers, though those numbers are very good. It is based on his prospect pedigree, which is as good as it gets, anecdotal information from professionals on the ground in Florida, which are glowing, and an assessment of the Reds OF situation going forward.
    Yes but those are really part of the reasons he IS the 25th man.

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    Griffey is fragile and likely to fade at the plate, perhaps precipitously. Dunn is a FA after 08 (after 07 if the Reds don't re-up him at $13MM). It makes sense to see if Hamilton can be a power source at an OF corner (or even CF) sooner rather than later, and I don't think you accomplish that by relegating him to pinchrunning and 9th inning defense. This is potentially a core player, in my opinion -- so if you're going to keep him at the major league level, and it looks as if the Reds will have to do that, you might as well give him reps, because the chances of this team being a contender look better for 2008-2010 than they do for this year, especially if Hamilton can be the player many think he can be.
    I agree with the sentiment in most of your points but once again, when the season starts, Hamilton's development is a secondary goal to winning until it becomes obvious that the playoffs aren't going to happen this year.

    It's very possible the Reds tank and Denorifia gets traded in July and Hamilton ends up with 400 PA's. it's also very possible that Hamilton simply is good enough and he makes it evident sometime early summer that the Reds can't keep him out of the lineup if their primary goal is winning.

    But from where I'm looking in March of '07, it's most likely that the best case scenario for Hamilton in '07 is a worst case scenario for the Reds.
    Last edited by jojo; 03-28-2007 at 12:10 PM. Reason: Spelling errors....my first grade teacher would be pinching my earlobe right now.....
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Quote Originally Posted by Dunner44 View Post
    Another factor that no one has brought up are the shin splints he has been suffering in the second half of the season. Tenderness in his legs is going to affect his follow through on his swing and his stance in general. This could be a contrbuting factor to his "second spring slump"
    Yep, that's a fair point and it could also just be randomness....


    But that's the rub, going forward into the season, you'd like as much doubt erased as possible.
    Last edited by jojo; 03-28-2007 at 12:06 PM.
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85 View Post
    The way it looks to me the Reds could be hopelessly out of it by the ASB which would give them he opportunity to give Hamilton more playing time.
    While the Reds might be average at best, I don't see them out of the race at the ASB because of this mediocre division.

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    Re: Josh Hamilton- A tale of two springs

    Quote Originally Posted by NJReds View Post
    While the Reds might be average at best, I don't see them out of the race at the ASB because of this mediocre division.
    this teams looks to have subpar starting pitching, relief pitching and offense. They are going to need excellent season out of a large group of people to stay in the hunt. I am more troubled about the offense than anything else. At least with the pitching, there are options, albeit maybe not real good ones. In the case of the offense if the everyday players don't perform well the Reds are lacking in alternatives.
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