Billy Hamilton made waves when he entered the league back in 2013 for his breakneck speed on the basepaths and in center field. He became the speedster other players dreamed of catching. Few can rival his base-stealing ability.
Given all this, it was a surprise that Hamilton was not tendered a deal by the Reds. Jayson Stark of the Athletic pointed out that the Reds ownership axed multiple trades for Hamilton over the last few years. Now they got nothing for him.
Hamilton’s key flaw that likely led to not being tendered his offensive inability. His highest OPS in a full major-league season was .664 in 2016; his highest OPS+ was 81 in his rookie 2014 season. He finished 2018 with a .236/.299/.327 line, 8.3% walk rate, 23.7% strikeout rate, and 68 OPS+ in 153 games.
While Hamilton may not provide great value at the plate, he is strong in other aspects of the game. He stole 34 bases in 44 opportunities in 2018 and is 277-for-340 in his career. His defense is strong with 51 defensive runs saved and a 10.9 UZR/150 in his career in the outfield.
Both of Hamilton’s strong suits are areas where the Phillies struggled. The team’s defensive struggles have been beaten to death since the final out of the season. They ranked 23rd in the league with only 69 stolen bases in 2018. Hamilton would help improve the team in both areas.
Given Hamilton’s offensive deficiencies, it’s unlikely he would start full-time anywhere, especially in Philadelphia where the outfield is already crowded enough. However, he could prosper in a reserve role as Gabe Kapler’s main pinch-runner/defensive replacement.