Cubs claim notorious speedster Billy Hamilton off waivers

The fastest player in the majors is heading to Chicago’s North Side

Billy Hamilton isn’t the impact player he once was, in part because he struggles to get on base and has a strikeout rate far higher than it should be, but assuming he actually can find his way onto the basepaths now and again, he can always create trouble. The Cubs are kicking the tires on one of baseball’s best base-stealers in Hamilton, as they claimed him off waivers on Sunday.

Hamilton was waived by the New York Mets. He’s also played for the Reds, Braves, Royals and San Francisco Giants in recent seasons. In all of those stops (minus his early years with the Reds), he’s disappointed in terms of OBP. It’s the one stat holding Hamilton back from regular playing time as a leadoff man, and it’s why the Cubs view him more as the occasional pinch-runner than a real contributor.

What does Hamilton bring to the Cubs lineup?

In 2013 and 2014, Hamilton had OBP’s over .300 by a wide margin, and his impact was felt around baseball. He’s quick enough in the outfield to make an impact defensively as well. Since then, Hamilton hasn’t broken the .300 OBP mark in close to a full season since 2017, and his strikeout rate continues to increase.

Hamilton should be used primarily as a pinch-runner, especially if the Cubs need to keep opposing teams on their toes come the postseason. He stole three bases in four attempts with the Mets, albeit while slashing .045/.083/.045 in that time, so he can still swipe a bag when he needs to. As a defensive replacement, he’s valuable as well in center, where the Cubs consistently employ Ian Happ on a regular basis.

Next: Cubs send Jason Heyward to hospital after leaving Sunday’s game

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