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Mets: The pros and cons of signing free agent Billy Hamilton

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 28: Billy Hamilton #6 of the Kansas City Royals lines out in the third inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on June 28, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 28: Billy Hamilton #6 of the Kansas City Royals lines out in the third inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on June 28, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Should the New York Mets look to acquire speedy veteran outfielder Billy Hamilton? Let’s weigh the pros and cons.

The New York Mets have caught fire as of late and are making a serious playoff push. They are just two games back in the NL Wild Card standings and have a real shot at playing October baseball this season.

A few days ago, the Kansas City Royals designated outfielder Billy Hamilton for assignment. Ever since he made his debut, Hamilton has struggled mightily with the bat, but he has always been praised for his fantastic defense and elite speed.I would expect him to go to a team that has its sights set on the playoffs because speed is one of the most sought-after tools in the postseason.

Should the Mets, who lack outfield depth especially now with injuries to some of their best outfielders, take the risk and sign Hamilton? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros

Ever since he was a prospect, Hamilton has been praised for his other-worldly speed. He is the fastest player in MLB and is widely considered to be one of the fastest MLB players of all time.

He stole just under 60 bases in each season from 2014 to 2017. He is struggling greatly this season but even so, he runs for extra bases quite often. Additionally, because he is so fast, he rarely hits into double plays. Stealing bags, notching extra-base hits, and avoiding becoming victim to the double play are all crucial assets for a team to have in the postseason.

Hamilton’s speed should be eye-opening to the Mets organization: they could really use a guy who brings all three traits to the table as they make a push for October.

You really can’t get any better than Hamilton when it comes to speed but he comes with another positive: defense. Any player with a DRS over five is considered to be an above-average defender, and Hamilton has only fallen under that mark once since making his MLB debut. He has flirted between being a great and Gold Glove-caliber defender throughout his entire career.

His UZR has also been outstanding ever since his debut. The Mets have a problem in the outfield with regard to depth, so an addition would be welcome, but their defense isn’t great, either. Center fielder Juan Lagares is their only great defensive outfielder, and I think it is really important that they add another.

Cons

The word superb isn’t enough to describe Hamilton’s speed and defense, so why aren’t teams frantically trying to grab him? Because of his offense.

He has an unimpressive career slash line of .242/.296/.326. He has hit just 21 home runs since making his MLB debut in 2013 and has never driven in more than 48 runs in a season.

His offensive production is so minuscule that it makes people forget about his speed. His OBP is so low that he can’t use his speed for anything. What’s the point of being a speedster if you don’t get on base?

This has been most noticeable this season: before being DFA’d, he didn’t even lead the Royals in stolen bases because his OBP was so low. Yes, being the fastest player in the game and having a fantastic glove are both nice, but what’s the point of getting a guy who is more than likely not going to do anything productive when he steps up to the plate?

Acquiring Hamilton would not be the end of the world for the Mets because of his speed and defense, but I don’t think they should do it.

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If he continues to play like he has all season, the team would only be benefitting from his defense. I’m not even counting his speed because, as I mentioned, he doesn’t get on base nearly enough for him to use his speed as he should. He would end up becoming a wasted spot in the lineup or literally just a pinch-runner.

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