He’s back, and it’s so much fun to be able to watch Billy Hamilton again.
(Hey, Brett, in preseason predictions on site, you said Billy would be the Worst Player on the White Sox this year. But earlier in the offseason, you also said he should be paid $100 million and have 200 stolen bases this year. What gives?)
Well, if you haven’t figured this out (aka new to SSS), I am a confused leader. But “jokes” aside, I’m actually not sure how I’ve created that paradox, because I still believe in the latter more than the former. (It was probably more anticipated “White Soxing” of the situation where Billy would become a 400-PA regular and forced into playing, I dunno, second base — he played two innings there already this year in Charlotte!)
Hamilton brings a number of important and necessary things to this White Sox team, qualities that might be less essential elsewhere, on a wisely-constructed and thought-out roster:
Speed Yeah, OK Mr. Obvious. But for a White Sox team that has plenty of legging but often has it up on lifts in the shop (TA, YoYo, Benny, Pantera ...), having that guy who can literally ice a win with his wheels is important.
Stealing Bags You’re aware steals and success are up with the new rules, that prevent pickoffs or catchers ever feeling good about their arms or pop times ever again, right? Well, Hamilton was already a MONSTER on swipes before the rules changes. IF he got 700s PAs in 2023 (not claiming there is a world where he should), Hamilton should, indeed, swipe 200 bags. Literally every time he is on first base, Billy should take second.
Defense You may have noticed that the White Sox are still running Gavin Sheets out into right field. Maaaaybe they could use a defensive replacement who won’t trip over invisible gophers while chasing fly balls. (Love you, Gavin, but you’re not an outfielder, and what did you do to Rick that he is treating you this way?)
Spirit Look at the photo above, if you missed it and the caption. Two players in frame, both PSYCHED (and probably amazed) that Hamilton basically stole home by advancing two bases from second on a ground out (and cut the dramatics, Billy, you didn’t even need to slide). It’s not just the fan base that feels the Billy Magic. Hamilton is a veteran who has seem some shit, and has also had cause to celebrate. Among his younger teammates, Billy can mentor. With players more his peers (or those weirdo pitchers), he’s a guy who gives his all and comes ready with a positive attitude. And plus, he is just genuinely happy to be here — he was hitting like .150 at Charlotte. Which, full circle, tells you how important to a clubhouse and late-game situations Hamilton is, that he almost decidedly cannot hit yet still gets called back up to the majors.
Will Billy Hamilton alone save the White Sox season? No. And, dear reader, can anyone?
But Wheels makes is a lot more fun to watch this team. We are DESPERATELY searching for reasons to love this absolutely unlovable ballclub (looking at you, front office).
And for the White Sox, belatedly or not, to recognize the exploitable loopholes in the new base-running rules rather than just being stuck in the we put DHs in the outfield and that’s that! way of thinking, well, that’s progress. Twisted progress, but we’ll take it.
A month too late? We’ll see.
Go get ’em, Billy.