This is an article from the March 31, 2014 issue
A rival scout sizes up the REDS
The clock is ticking. The time for them to win is now, and they have the talent to do it.... This spring I timed BILLY HAMILTON at 3.5 seconds to first base from the right side, the fastest time I've clocked in three decades of doing this. He's flawless on the bases; he makes good turns and good decisions. He'll steal 70 this year. His approach at the plate is very mature, and he sees strikes. Who's crazy enough to walk him? He has transitioned from shortstop to centerfield very well—back in Fall League he had trouble reading the ball, but now he's confident with his jumps, his arm has improved, and his speed makes up for any mistakes.... JAY BRUCE has gotten better against lefthanded pitching. If Bruce could stay consistent all season, he'd hit 40 home runs. He's a dark-horse MVP candidate.... The defense is going to be very good, the back of the bullpen will be great again with AROLDIS CHAPMAN as closer, but the strength of this team is the rotation. With JOHNNY CUETO, MAT LATOS and HOMER BAILEY, they have three guys who are No. 1s on a lot of teams.... The guy who might have the highest ceiling is TONY CINGRANI—a lefthanded power pitcher and big-time strikeout guy. His fastball is elite, and he has the makings of a very good breaking ball. He could be the true ace of the staff by the end of the season.... Dusty Baker was a rah-rah kind of guy; BRYAN PRICE is going to hold guys accountable and be more of a strategist. He'll push all the right buttons with the staff and the bullpen during the game.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
NL AVERAGE 667
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
NL AVERAGE 677
BILLY HAMILTON breaks the game of baseball. He was the best minor league base stealer since the 1980s, and he went 13 for 14 stealing bases after the Reds called him up last September, running nearly every time he was on first (15 times). So why would you ever waste an out to move him up 90 feet? Twice last year manager Dusty Baker had players bunt with Hamilton on base, giving away an out for no good reason. The chief benefit of having Hamilton is being able to take extra bases without giving up outs, the closest thing baseball has to a free lunch: Even if he's on second, his speed is such a weapon that you're better off having him attempt to steal third than having a batter lay down a sacrifice. New Reds manager BRYAN PRICE can't help but be more modern in his approach to the game than Baker was. While that doesn't necessarily mean never using the sacrifice bunt, it should mean never using it when a Hamilton stolen-base attempt is an option.