Chicago Cubs News: Speedster Billy Hamilton claimed off waivers

(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

The addition of Billy Hamilton gives the Cubs a much-needed speed threat.

The Chicago Cubs claimed outfielder Billy Hamilton off waivers earlier this week following his release from the Mets. Hamilton appeared in 17 games this season and had just 25 plate appearances where he struggled with a slash line of .045/.083/.045. The speedster did manage to steal three bases in his four attempts, and this attribute is exactly why the Cubs are bringing Hamilton to the North Side.

In this day and age of baseball, the act of stealing bases and playing small ball is almost a lost art form. Teams swing for the fences rather than getting a player on, moving them over and then driving them in to score. It really is a simple and successful concept yet most teams, like the Cubs would rather try out-slugging their opponents. When that works, great, but come playoff time the game slows down and the teams that can execute this are the ones who find themselves in the World Series. Clearly the Cubs’ current offensive game plan is not working out well, so the lineup needs to change something and fast.

Will Hamilton fix all the struggles we have seen thus far? Probably not. The success of the Cubs this season will ultimately come down to their best players breaking out of their slumps and playing at the high-level they are capable of. However, the addition of Hamilton could provide a different small-ball type feel which this offense has not seen in quite some time.

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The veteran outfielder could see playing time with the absence of Jason Heyward, who left Sunday night’s game after not feeling well. With Heyward’s return Hamilton will likely be brought in for pinch running in late game situations. It might not seem like much, but this role will be huge down the stretch and into the postseason. If you disagree, just ask Red Sox or Yankees fans about Dave Roberts and the 2004 ALCS.

The Cubs currently sit toward the bottom of MLB with 13 stolen bases in 19 attempts this season through 42 games played. In his career, Hamilton has swiped 302 of 372 bases in 826 games played. He is arguably the fastest man in the league, scoring from second base on a sacrifice fly earlier this season.

At 29 years old, Hamilton’s legs and glove are what has kept him playing at the big league level. His best season came in 2016 where he slashed .260/.321/.343 with a .664 OPS to go along with 58 stolen bases in 64 attempts. In his seven other seasons in the MLB he has hit over .250 just once.

It is unlikely to say Hamilton will turn his entire offensive career around during his time with the team. As of Wednesday, the Cubs (25-18) have just a three-game lead over the Cardinals with 17 games remaining. Hamilton will not get many opportunities, but maybe he can provide some sort of spark for this struggling offense in this final stretch.

dark. Next. The Cubs need to get it together sooner than later

Sometimes a fresh start in a new place can turn around a player’s career. It is certainly a stretch, but this could be the case with Hamilton and the Cubs. After all, crazier things have happened in 2020.