Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton wears the “Speed Kills” brand T-shirts around the clubhouse all the time for a good reason. His speed is deadly.
But what about power? Power can kill, and Hamilton has shown surprising power as a rookie. He hit his fifth home run and reached 30 RBIs on the season Friday as the Reds beat the Brewers 4-2 at Great American Ball Park.
That’s five home runs in 294 at-bats, or one for every 58.8 at-bats. In his minor league career, Hamilton hit 13 home runs in 2,015 at-bats, or one home run every 155 at-bats.
Hamilton said he’s not trying to hit home runs.
“It happens,” he said. “I put the same swing on it whether I hit a line drive or a groundball.”
Hamilton ranks third in baseball with 35 stolen bases. Only two other players with more than 20 stolen bases have five or more home runs.
“I wasn’t expecting the power,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “I would have said that coming out of spring training. After the first six or eight weeks of the season, nothing would surprise me.
“The evolution of the player has just been so impressive. The defense I couldn’t have anticipated, his ability to run the bases with the instincts he has, his ability to put more balls in play. He’s doing a lot of things I wasn’t sure he would be able to do until he got his feet on the ground here.”
Decision ahead: The Reds have not decided — or at least they’re not saying if they’ve decided — who will start one of the two games of a doubleheader Tuesday against the Cubs.
Johnny Cueto will start one game. Price isn’t sure if it will be the first or second game. Louisville Bats pitcher David Holmberg (0-4, 5.28 ERA) is one candidate to start the other one, Price said. Holmberg pitched Friday for the Bats but left the game after 3 2/3 innings, raising suspicions he might pitch Tuesday in Cincinnati.
Cubs trade: The Reds caught a break when the Cubs traded their two best starting pitchers, Jeff Samardzija (2-7, 2.83 ERA) and Jason Hammel (8-5, 2.98), to the A’s on Friday night. Hammels was scheduled to start Wednesday and Samardzija on Thursday against the Reds.
Making history: Aroldis Chapman struck out one batter in the ninth inning Friday. He now has at least one strikeout in each of his last 36 appearances.
That’s the second-longest streak by a reliever since 1900. He’s three away from tying Bruce Sutter’s all-time record set in 1977.
Today’s game: Mat Latos (1-1, 2.45 ERA) starts the series finale at 1:10 today for the Reds against Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 3.51).
This is Latos’ fifth start since returning from the disabled list. He’s coming off two seven-inning, one-run performances.