Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton exited Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning after being hit with a deflected fly ball. However, he is ready to return, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer

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Hamilton Active vs. Nationals

Thursday, June 30

Mark Sheldon of noted Phillips is in the lineup against Washington and is batting seventh.

Hamilton Is Slowly Improving at the Plate

When he was coming up through the Reds’ system, Hamilton earned a reputation for his prodigious baserunning and impressive defense. While those abilities have carried over to the majors, the 25-year-old also brought his lack of pop at the plate to Cincinnati.

According to FanGraphs, Hamilton had the third-lowest slugging percentage (.289), the fourth-lowest isolated power (.063) and was tied for the third-worst in weighted runs created plus (52) among batters with at least 400 plate appearances.

In 2016, however, Hamilton is making positive strides. He has a .255/.296/.385 slash line with three home runs and 12 runs batted in in 200 plate appearances.

Ground balls have been part of Hamilton’s success this year. A little under half (48.3) of his batted balls are ground balls, per FanGraphs, which allows him to fully utilize his greatest asset—his speed. In addition, he’s hitting more line drives, which further increases his chances of getting on base.

Hamilton previously missed time earlier in the year while recovering from a concussion. Almost immediately after making his return to the field, he made one of the catches of the year in Cincinnati’s 5-4 defeat to the Houston Astros on June 18:

Durability has been an issue with Hamilton the last two years. He only played in 114 games in 2015 and had shoulder surgery last September. Before the concussion, a nagging thumb injury also briefly kept Hamilton out of action in 2016.

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