The switch at the leadoff spot in the Cincinnati Reds‘ batting order from Shin-Soo Choo to rookie Billy Hamilton seemed more like an upheaval at the outset of the 2014 season due to the very slow start for Hamilton at the plate.
In his first 10 starts, Hamilton hit just .139 (6-for-43) and had scored just three runs and stole only two bases. That slow start has started to change; in his last six starts, Hamilton has hit .320 (eight-for-25), scored five runs and stole six bags.
Hamilton’s minor league career as a .280 hitter suggests that the recent burst of success should be closer to how Hamilton will actually produce with the Reds. Hamilton stole 395 bases in 502 games in the minors for a rate that equates to about 118 over 150 games. That would be hard for him to replicate in the majors, but his recent rate of one stolen base per start would move him in that direction.
Given the reversal of Hamilton’s fortune at the plate and on the basepaths, it’s not surprising that the Reds have started to climb out of the early season hole the team dug. The Reds started the season 4-9, but have since won five of their last seven to pull even with the Pittsburgh Pirates for third place in the NL Central at 9-11.
The latest Reds’ win ups the team’s road record to 3-2 on this current 10-game road trip that will include two more games in Pittsburgh before a three-game set in Atlanta. If the Reds are going to continue to make a run to finish April at .500 or better, the team must continue to scratch out wins, and with Hamilton finally starting to look relaxed at the plate, that outcome looks more feasible than it did at the beginning of the current road trip.