Billy Hamilton is once again a finalist for the National League Gold Glove for Centerfielders. He’s a finalist every year though. The ‘always a bridesmaid, never a bride’ narrative screams loudly when we’re talking about Billy Hamilton and his defense. I’m not saying this because I’m a Reds fan; I’m saying it because it makes no sense that he hasn’t won yet. I stay unbiased when writing these blogs unless I put it out front that it is a fan based opinion. But Billy Hamilton deserves a Gold Glove. As a matter of fact, he should have 3 by now.
Billy puts on a defensive showcase almost every night. In the 80s, Ozzie Smith did the same thing and he was worshipped at the baseball altar. But this is where I feel Major League Baseball has changed, and not for the better. Growing up, the Gold Glove was given to the player who………….wait for it…………….showed defensive prowess and had the best glove. It seems that today’s voters are factoring in the team’s record and possibly offensive numbers as well. That’s the only explanation I can muster when I try to wrap my brain around the fact that Juan Lagares, AJ Pollock, and Ender Inciarte (2x) have beaten Hamilton in the Gold Glove voting. Yes, the Reds aren’t good, and yes, Billy can’t really hit that well. But he’s easily the best damned defensive CF in the game. No one can deny that. He’s a human highlight reel.
And if he does win this year, I’m really looking forward to the interview. For those outside of the Cincinnati area who haven’t had the pleasure of listening to a Billy Hamilton interview, you’re in for a treat. Dude sounds like King of the Hill’s Boomhauer on helium. It’s truly a joy to listen to this guy talk. I have no idea what he says, but I’m glued to the tv when he speaks.
But I love the Gold Glove Award. As a purist, the defensive aspects of the game are what thrill me, not the 486 foot home runs. Give me a perfectly turned double play, a play at the plate, or just simply a defensive gem. Billy gives us the latter each night. It’s why we tolerate his lack of offense. But man, if he could learn to hit, he’d be the best leadoff man in the game. I’ve said for a few years now that when he’s on base, he’s the most exciting player since Lou Brock. Sadly, he’s not on base that much. Someone needs to teach him how to bunt, or at least keep the ball down. Some of us here in Cincinnati refer to him as Willie Mays Hayes, a nod to the baseball film Major League. Dude, you weigh a buck 40, stop swinging for the fences.
We’ll find out soon who wins these awards. I hope Billy gets his this year. He deserves it, he’s earned it. Watching him play CF is a pure joy. He does everything with apparent ease and you can tell he’s really enjoying himself out there. Give the guy his award.