Young, scrappy and hungry: when does Hamilton get his shot?

PrometheusWakefield

Member
SoSH Member
May 25, 2009
10,507
Boston, MA
David Hamilton is currently hitting .319/.390/.569 with 12 stolen bases at AAA Worchester. He's 25 years old and already on the 40 man roster.

Christian Arroyo is hitting .190/.217/.241 in Boston and has little upside.
Yu Chang is hitting .136/.174/.341 in Boston and has zero upside.
I love the guy but I think we all know our defense works best with Kike in center rather than shortstop.

Isn't it time to see what this guy can do at the major league level? What are we waiting for?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
21,524
Maine
He's not a highly rated prospect. There's a good chance that's he's just riding a hot streak in AAA that won't translate to the big leagues. And clearly they rank Valdez above him in the depth chart. So I guess the simple answer to "what are they waiting for" is they're giving Valdez his shot first. If in a couple weeks, Valdez isn't cutting it (or Arroyo is still slumping), and Hamilton is still swinging a good bat, he might get his chance.
 

simplicio

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2012
6,186
I'd quibble with your characterization of Chang as zero upside, he's turned the bat around a bit recently and he was certainly our best defensive shortstop, but of course he's broken now too.

Would not at all mind Hamilton getting a look, I know he's not good defensively but Valdez is painful to watch. But I don't see it as a priority.
 

LogansDad

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 15, 2006
30,699
Alamogordo
He's not a highly rated prospect. There's a good chance that's he's just riding a hot streak in AAA that won't translate to the big leagues. And clearly they rank Valdez above him in the depth chart. So I guess the simple answer to "what are they waiting for" is they're giving Valdez his shot first. If in a couple weeks, Valdez isn't cutting it (or Arroyo is still slumping), and Hamilton is still swinging a good bat, he might get his chance.
I actually think the opposite. I think that Valdez is what he is, but that Hamilton has some developmental upside to the point that they don't want to be bouncing him between AAA and MLB. I think he will get the call when they think he is ready to stick.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
21,524
Maine
I actually think the opposite. I think that Valdez is what he is, but that Hamilton has some developmental upside to the point that they don't want to be bouncing him between AAA and MLB. I think he will get the call when they think he is ready to stick.
Not the end all or anything, but Sox Prospects ranks Valdez 14th and Hamilton 26th in their prospect list. I think you're correct that Valdez likely is what he is in the sense that he has the hit tools he's going to have and he's never going to be better than below average anywhere defensively. I don't think Hamilton has a lot more room to grow either, though. I suspect he's benefiting from the launching pad that is Polar Park a bit because he's not projected to have much pop (not .569 slugging kind of pop, anyway). He's got speed which is probably the skill that will earn him big league time. He's not good defensively and probably will end up in the outfield where his speed might play up. He might be a poor man's Jarren Duran at best.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
17,245
In The Athletic, Brian Abraham talks about Hamilton and how they worked with him to make changes to his bat speed and bat path in the offseason:

https://theathletic.com/4447231/2023/04/25/red-sox-farm-director-brian-abraham/
You know, last year being his first year with us, it was a lot of getting to know him on a personal level — getting to know him, what he does well, what we felt like he struggled with — and it’s always hard to make adjustments in-season. I think this winter and going into this offseason, we had a really strong understanding of where he needed to improve, bat speed being one of those things, and focusing on his bat path, two areas we felt like were priority areas he needed to improve upon. And he’s shown improvements in both.
Bat speed has increased. He has a more consistent bat path that is relatable to the type of player that he is. And the added strength, the added understanding of upper-level pitching, the challenges he has to understand who’s pitching against him and what they’re trying to do to him, has led to hitting the ball hard consistently to all fields, along with some power as well.
So, I think all of those things come into play, and we felt like there was some low-hanging fruit that we could really make a difference with and allow him to be a better offensive threat on top of the type of player he already is on the basepaths and in the field. … All signs point to him continuing to show incredibly improved maturity and strength and bat speed, things we’re really excited that he’s shown so far.
In the Glob, Speier said the Red Sox want him to keep focused on maintaining those changes in AAA.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/04/25/sports/depth-up-middle-helps-red-sox-get-past-rash-injuries/?p1=StaffPage
With Chang down, the Sox summoned second baseman Enmanuel Valdez from Triple-A Worcester to join the “Next Man Up” conga line. The lefthanded hitter is expected to get regular starts against righties. The team also could have called up David Hamilton — who is off to a .339/.397/.600 start with four homers for the WooSox — but preferred that the second baseman/shortstop further solidify offseason swing and approach changes while getting a foundation in Triple-A.
Makes sense that they wouldn't want to jump him up to face big league pitching until the foundation is ready.
 

TheYellowDart5

Hustle and bustle
SoSH Member
Apr 16, 2003
9,364
NYC
I imagine Hamilton would already be up if there were any confidence that he could be average or better with the bat and the glove. Most every scouting report suggests that his ceiling at shortstop is average, and similarly on offense, with his only plus tool being his speed (which to a certain degree bumps up the hit tool, but there's zero power in his game). FanGraphs slapped a 40 Future Value on him, which is roughly equivalent to a utility player, except Hamilton doesn't play any other IF position, so really that 40 FV is probably more of a 35, which would make him more organizational filler. Soxprospects is very down on his defense. The general agreement is that he'd be better off moving to the outfield, where he'd probably carve out a decent career as a fifth OF/pinch-runner type.

All of which is to say that, even with the hot start, there's no real appeal to Hamilton and no viable role on the big league squad. I get the frustration with Arroyo and Valdez et al, but Hamilton is a long long shot to out-perform them.
 

chawson

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
4,688
I’m optimistic about the bat after recent changes. He’s now at .339/.429/.556 over his last 180 PAs in the minors (AA + AAA), which is good for a 163 wRC+. Getting hard to ignore.

However, Ian Cundall was very, very down on his defense at shortstop in a recent podcast episode. I think there’s a lane to playing time but apparently his arm is just not a shortstop’s arm.
 

Cassvt2023

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 17, 2023
716
I'm not sure what the answer should be with middle infield until Story/Mondesi get back, but one thing that I believe is NOT the answer is Christian Arroyo as a starter anywhere on the field. He is a Utility IF at best.
 

moondog80

heart is two sizes two small
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
8,415
I’m optimistic about the bat after recent changes. He’s now at .339/.429/.556 over his last 180 PAs in the minors (AA + AAA), which is good for a 163 wRC+. Getting hard to ignore.

However, Ian Cundall was very, very down on his defense at shortstop in a recent podcast episode. I think there’s a lane to playing time but apparently his arm is just not a shortstop’s arm.
Not a perfect comparison but with some OF experience his upside could be a faster, worse fielding Kike Hernandez.
 
Last edited:

PrometheusWakefield

Member
SoSH Member
May 25, 2009
10,507
Boston, MA
I imagine Hamilton would already be up if there were any confidence that he could be average or better with the bat and the glove. Most every scouting report suggests that his ceiling at shortstop is average, and similarly on offense, with his only plus tool being his speed (which to a certain degree bumps up the hit tool, but there's zero power in his game). FanGraphs slapped a 40 Future Value on him, which is roughly equivalent to a utility player, except Hamilton doesn't play any other IF position, so really that 40 FV is probably more of a 35, which would make him more organizational filler. Soxprospects is very down on his defense. The general agreement is that he'd be better off moving to the outfield, where he'd probably carve out a decent career as a fifth OF/pinch-runner type.

All of which is to say that, even with the hot start, there's no real appeal to Hamilton and no viable role on the big league squad. I get the frustration with Arroyo and Valdez et al, but Hamilton is a long long shot to out-perform them.
Remember tools are just tools though, they aren't skills. So it's not just 50 Hit plus 70 Speed it's that plus 10% BB plus strong baserunning skills (which is both widely reported and evidenced by the 70-for-78 SB last year, which is better than you'd expect from even a 70). That's at least a .340 OBP. And the bat is playing more like a 55 or 60 Hit (16.7% K rate), in addition to the signs, admittedly early, of developing some power, which was always an anticipated possibility.

I don't know about the defense but it's not hard to see a quite good offensive player here, who could become an strong tablesetter, or at least a nasty pest at the bottom of the lineup.
 

pjheff

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 4, 2003
1,386
However, Ian Cundall was very, very down on his defense at shortstop in a recent podcast episode. I think there’s a lane to playing time but apparently his arm is just not a shortstop’s arm.
In Spring Training, his loading up to throw was reminiscent of David Eckstein.
 

MtPleasant Paul

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 28, 2015
169
One thing to consider about Hamilton is his relative lack of experience even though he is 25. He missed his senior year at Texas in 2019 and, of course, lost 2020 to the pandemic although he spent some time with an independent league team. He began his minor league career in 2021. He has about as much minor league experience as Nick Yorke.

So, instead of looking at him as a career journeyman, maybe we should see him as a promising prospect who started turning the corner last September (a 1.151 OPS in 56 AB's that month) and is continuing it this year.
 

bosox188

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 11, 2008
3,031
Marlborough, MA
For those who aren't aware, Prospects Live recently released a tool on their page that pulls the AAA data from Statcast and actually lets you search by player. That's something that's sorely lacking on Baseball Savant at the moment, as you can only see AAA data by parsing through game logs.

This is what they have for Hamilton:

Batted Balls Max EV 95th Pct EV Average EV Launch Angle OZ-Swing% Swing% Whiff% Hard Hit%
59 108.4 105.5 86.2 8.7 17.8 44.4 12.6 39


The exit velos and launch angle aren't all that great, I don't think his surface stats can be trusted in terms of his true power. Polar Park is probably helping him, doesn't it boost home runs to RF quite a bit?

The whiff and swing decision stats do look pretty good, definitely can see the contact/walks/speed profile offensively. But with the Sox Prospects folks down on his defense, that kind of kills the vibe for me. Not when there's no power either.
 
Last edited:

PrometheusWakefield

Member
SoSH Member
May 25, 2009
10,507
Boston, MA
Apparently he will be in the Metrodome where it happens today:

The Red Sox are reportedly bringing infielder David Hamilton to Minnesota on Wednesday for a potential big league debut.

MassLive’s Chris Cotillo reported late Tuesday that Hamilton will be with Boston as insurance for Pablo Reyes.

Reyes missed Tuesday’s win over the Twins due to right abdominal soreness and it’s unclear if he’ll need to spend time on the injured list.

If Reyes is placed on the IL, the 25-year-old Hamilton will join the MLB roster for the first time.

Hamilton, a middle infielder, joined the Red Sox in the trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers and brought back Jackie Bradley Jr.
I've been looking forward to a player with game changing speed since the new rules were announced.
 

Doug Beerabelli

Killer Threads
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
For those who aren't aware, Prospects Live recently released a tool on their page that pulls the AAA data from Statcast and actually lets you search by player. That's something that's sorely lacking on Baseball Savant at the moment, as you can only see AAA data by parsing through game logs.

This is what they have for Hamilton:

Batted Balls Max EV 95th Pct EV Average EV Launch Angle OZ-Swing% Swing% Whiff% Hard Hit%
59 108.4 105.5 86.2 8.7 17.8 44.4 12.6 39


The exit velos and launch angle aren't all that great, I don't think his surface stats can be trusted in terms of his true power. Polar Park is probably helping him, doesn't it boost home runs to RF quite a bit?

The whiff and swing decision stats do look pretty good, definitely can see the contact/walks/speed profile offensively. But with the Sox Prospects folks down on his defense, that kind of kills the vibe for me. Not when there's no power either.
Are you suggesting he start less, pinch run more?
 

scottyno

late Bloomer
SoSH Member
Dec 7, 2008
11,448
He has game changing speed and gets hits. He should be the everyday shortstop over Hernandez but it won't happen quick as Cora will keep playing his buddy Hernandez.
Is this based on his 1 hit today or his .255 average in Worcester?
 

Blizzard of 1978

@drballs
Sep 12, 2022
503
New Hampshire
Seems a bit out of character for Blizzard… thought it was a joke.
I just like the player David Hamilton. Think he will be good. How many games has Hernandez cost the Red Sox this year? They would be in first place for the wild card if Hernandez was replaced at shortstop. I like to give Hamilton the shot. Hernandez will not be on this team next year. Let's see what Hamilton can give them. With that have a good day.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 11, 2007
6,847
I just like the player David Hamilton. Think he will be good. How many games has Hernandez cost the Red Sox this year? They would be in first place for the wild card if Hernandez was replaced at shortstop. I like to give Hamilton the shot. Hernandez will not be on this team next year. Let's see what Hamilton can give them. With that have a good day.
I really doubt the difference between Hamilton all year and Kike would be 8 games. Maybe 2 at the most (which isn't insignificant). I'd also prefer to bench Kike or use him mostly in the super-sub role he's probably best at.... starting 3 out of 5 games to cycle through the CF and middle IF and getting into CF for late inning defense (shift Duran over to LF if Yoshida is playing there). But I'm not sure if Hamilton really is going to make or break the team.... the best bet is Story getting healthy and taking over SS for the remainder of the season
 

absintheofmalaise

too many flowers
Dope
SoSH Member
Mar 16, 2005
24,771
The gran facenda
I just like the player David Hamilton. Think he will be good. How many games has Hernandez cost the Red Sox this year? They would be in first place for the wild card if Hernandez was replaced at shortstop. I like to give Hamilton the shot. Hernandez will not be on this team next year. Let's see what Hamilton can give them. With that have a good day.
I don't want Kikè anywhere near SS either, but do you have something other than watching games to back up any of this? Is there something you've seen on the various sites people use like B-Ref or FG, etc to help you reach these conclusions?
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
8,205
Boston, MA
I don't want Kikè anywhere near SS either, but do you have something other than watching games to back up any of this? Is there something you've seen on the various sites people use like B-Ref or FG, etc to help you reach these conclusions?
That's not really fair. The defensive stats you'll find on Baseball Reference or Fangraphs are devoid of context. There's a big difference between throwing away what would have been the last out of a game and allowing the tying run to score and making a bad throw in the 5th inning when you're up 8-0, but they're treated identically on the stat lines. WPA doesn't even have a defensive component. The only way to conclude that someone's defense has cost the team games is to watch the games or look at the play by play data and count them up.
 

absintheofmalaise

too many flowers
Dope
SoSH Member
Mar 16, 2005
24,771
The gran facenda
That's not really fair. The defensive stats you'll find on Baseball Reference or Fangraphs are devoid of context. There's a big difference between throwing away what would have been the last out of a game and allowing the tying run to score and making a bad throw in the 5th inning when you're up 8-0, but they're treated identically on the stat lines. WPA doesn't even have a defensive component. The only way to conclude that someone's defense has cost the team games is to watch the games or look at the play by play data and count them up.
I don't rely on defensive stats either. I'm not a fan of using WAR for that very reason. But some people do. And yes, you can conclude that someone's defense, and their lack of offense combined, has cost the team games. Is there a way to put a conclusive number on it? No, but he did. I'm asking how he reached the conclusions that he did.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
21,524
Maine
That's not really fair. The defensive stats you'll find on Baseball Reference or Fangraphs are devoid of context. There's a big difference between throwing away what would have been the last out of a game and allowing the tying run to score and making a bad throw in the 5th inning when you're up 8-0, but they're treated identically on the stat lines. WPA doesn't even have a defensive component. The only way to conclude that someone's defense has cost the team games is to watch the games or look at the play by play data and count them up.
Is it really too much to ask for a poster to do the bolded? Especially if they're going to assert something that can be in some way backed up by doing so?
 

JM3

often quoted
SoSH Member
Dec 14, 2019
17,301
Hernandez has a -0.8 fWAR & -0.6 bWAR this season. If you believe in those metrics, they'd be about one win better with a replacement level player. For example, the iminitable Pablo Reyes has a 0.2 fWAR & 0.5 bWAR.

Could Hamilton be on that level with his speed? Sure, maybe. It's it worth giving him a shot since he's here anyway? Sure, maybe.

Would we be 8 games better with literally anyone else at SS, let alone a guy who has 3 MLB at bats & is a middling prospect? Nope.

But I think Blizzard is getting held to a higher standard than other people are held to here when they post their feelings about things without an iota of evidence or reality behind them.
 

nvalvo

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
22,105
Rogers Park
I don't think the preference for trying something new at SS requires much defense. Kiké has been, by modern and old-fashioned numbers, one of the worst defenders in the sport. He may have been a good SS once, but he isn't anymore. And his offense (70 OPS+) hasn't set the bar terribly high. So I have no objection to auditioning Hamilton while we wait for Story to rehab. Hamilton's been hitting well in AAA, and — well, I don't know how his defense has looked — but again, the bar to clear on both phases is very modest.

I objected to the imputation that there was some sort of Puerto Rican nepotistic conspiracy at the ball club.
 

JM3

often quoted
SoSH Member
Dec 14, 2019
17,301
I objected to the imputation that there was some sort of Puerto Rican nepotistic conspiracy at the ball club.
I took it as a popular veteran thing, not in that manner, but I guess it's hard to read into the intent of others.
 

Blizzard of 1978

@drballs
Sep 12, 2022
503
New Hampshire
Is it really too much to ask for a poster to do the bolded? Especially if they're going to assert something that can be in some way backed up by doing so?
I was going by he stole 70 bases last year. Those kind of players don't come around often. I wanted them to give Hamilton a chance. After watching Hernandez at shortstop this year I would be shocked if Hamilton was a worst defensive player at shortstop.
That's all I got with that. Go Red Sox.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
8,205
Boston, MA
Is it really too much to ask for a poster to do the bolded? Especially if they're going to assert something that can be in some way backed up by doing so?
Sure. Everyone should back up their claims with some evidence. I was just disagreeing with the idea of sending someone to Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference to quantify the number of games someone's defense has cost the team. You're not going to find that information there.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
11,933
I was going by he stole 70 bases last year. Those kind of players don't come around often. I wanted them to give Hamilton a chance. After watching Hernandez at shortstop this year I would be shocked if Hamilton was a worst defensive player at shortstop.
That's all I got with that. Go Red Sox.
There have been ten guys to steal 50 bases or more in AA in the last decade. Only 2 of them ended up getting more than 110 Plate appearances in the majors. Neither of those two were particularly good players, Billy Burns and Delino Deshields. Deshields had the longer career, but he was in AA at 21 and not 24 like Hamilton. I don't think stealing a whole lot of bases in AA is a good predictor of MLB success.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
21,524
Maine
There have been ten guys to steal 50 bases or more in AA in the last decade. Only 2 of them ended up getting more than 110 Plate appearances in the majors. Neither of those two were particularly good players, Billy Burns and Delino Deshields. Deshields had the longer career, but he was in AA at 21 and not 24 like Hamilton. I don't think stealing a whole lot of bases in AA is a good predictor of MLB success.
I'd add that A and AA catchers aren't necessarily the cream of the crop when it comes to throwing runners out. Ditto for the pitchers and controlling the running game from the mound (it's arguably not much of a priority at that level). Add that to the pitch clock and limited disengagements being part of the AA rules last year, and the decks were definitely stacked in a speedster like Hamilton's favor.

Also regarding his defense, Hamilton really does not have much of a great reputation defensively. This is what SoxProspects has to say about him: "Field: Inconsistent footwork and fringy range at shortstop. Can make the routine play, but there are concerns about how he would adjust to the speed of the major league game there. Has shown a tendency to rush plays and has trouble fielding the ball on the run. Looks more comfortable and profiles better at second base. Hands work and has shown solid range there. Footwork is sloppy second as well, but is within the more forgiving margin for error at that position than at shortstop. Speed and athleticism might be best suited for center field, where he has played on occasion in 2022 and 2023. Potential below-average defender at shortstop and average defender at second base."

Edit to add SoxProspects evaluation of his arm: "Arm: Below-average arm strength. Shot puts the ball over and throws lack carry. Arm is best suited for second base."

Kike has been bad. No question. But the vast majority of his bad has been throwing the ball. As a veteran player who had 600+ generally uneventful innings at SS in his career prior to this season, thinking he could solve his throwing problems is not an outlandish expectation. The idea that a rookie with a terrible defensive rep could step in and be immediately and clearly better is a stretch at best. There's a reason Hamilton is the sixth guy to get a start at SS for this team this year, and it isn't veteran preference or incompetence. It's legitimate concern over whether he can do the job. But desperate times and all that, so here he is.
 
Last edited: