Mar 6, 2014; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics outfielder Billy Burns (19) is caught in a run down between first and second base in the sixth inning of their spring training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Billy Burns Is Going To Be Better Than Billy Hamilton

As was reported earlier today the A’s announced another wave of roster “cuts” (sending players in Major League camp to Minor League camp or their respective Minor League affiliate in the organization). One player who earned the chance to finish out Spring Training with the big league team was outfielder Billy Burns. Burns leads the team with 20 hits and 10 stolen bases this spring. This coming from a player who is playing in a new organization and learning how to switch-hit on the fly. He won’t start the year with the A’s, but that opportunity might be coming soon.

On Saturday I got to see Burns in person at Phoenix Municipal Stadium when the A’s took on the Seattle Mariners. One thing I can confirm that has been reported on consistently throughout February and March, Burns is fast. Really fast. As a comparison, on Sunday I got to see the Brewers play the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. Reds top prospect and probable starting center fielder Billy Hamilton played the whole game. Many think he is the fastest player in baseball. While I did not have a stopwatch handy one thing is for sure. Burns is faster than Hamilton. It’s close, but Burns has the edge.

Once I realized Burns was faster than Hamilton I began to wonder something. Why is Burns not receiving the hype that Hamilton is? True Hamilton had an absurd amount of stolen bases in the Minor Leagues, but if we’re talking about what production we’ll see at the Major League level I don’t see how Burns doesn’t win that competition. The thing that will really separate Burns from Hamilton will be the tutelage of Rickey Henderson. Henderson can develop Burns into a stolen base machine.

Hamilton gets the press and it is well deserved especially considering he will start off the year with the Reds and the fact that the A’s do not garner much media attention on a national scale. However, Burns at some point in the near future will make an impact with the A’s. After coming over from the Washington Nationals for Jerry Blevins Burns has made a huge impact on the A’s and their front office. This might be the steal of the offseason if he can continue to develop into the speedy switch hitter the A’s hope he can be.

Burns will be in the A’s outfield for sometime once this group moves on (Coco Crisp, Yoenis Céspedes, Josh Reddick). He can play all outfield positions, has incredible speed, and can switch hit. The A’s hit a home run (pardon the phrase) when they landed Burns. Blevins will be missed, but no offense to him but left-handed relievers that fall into Blevins style can be had at a low cost. Switch-hitting outfielders with wheels are expensive. This was simply the right move for the A’s to make and if this Spring Training is any proof Burns will be a productive member of the A’s for a long time to come.

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Tags: Billy Burns Billy Hamilton Oakland Athletics

  • Jason Burke


  • Dave

    The main difference is that Burns has plate discipline and Hamilton really doesn’t.

    • Joe Tate

      Burns also is a better defensive outfielder.

  • Clay

    Not sure I agree with you on this. It seems awfully early in both of their extremely young careers to declare one is going to be better than the other. Especially when Burns has yet to play in a single AAA game. However, I do agree with you on Burns being faster than Hamilton, or at least him being a better base stealer as can be seen by their minor league stolen base percentages. But take that last sentence with a grain of salt, Hamilton is 9-9 in stolen base attempts this spring and Burns is 10-13. Burns however, is not learning to switch-hit on the fly, anymore than Hamilton is (both began switch hitting in 2011). A couple of reasons why Burns isn’t getting the same recognition is that he was at least a year older at each minor league stop relative to Hamilton, and their draft order. Hamilton was drafted in the 2nd round out of high school. Burns, the 16th, he didn’t sign and went on to play college ball and was subsequently drafted in the 32nd. After reading this I realized I may sound overly critically, but I genuinely enjoyed your article. Good luck to your A’s this season!

  • Andrew Kenniston

    Hamilton had a 3.3 home to first time. And I wouldn’t say that the reds get much media attention either. I’d say that the reds get the least media attention in the NL central. The cardinals are perennially a playoff team, the pirates have been a feel good story, and the cubs-though terrible-have a huge market which somehow means they get airtime. I think the main reason why people talk about Hamilton is because of the almost 200 steals and the fact that he’s replacing Shin Soo-Choo. He’s also a lock to be a starter unlike Burns. I’ve seen Burns play maybe three times and I agree. Dude’s fast. But I don’t think he’s faster than Hamilton. Defense and batting are different stories.

  • HobokenGuy

    Wow what a sad, angry guy. I just happened on this website looking for information on Burns but man you’ve got some problems. Let’s wait 5 years and see who has more stolen bases and who’s making the bigger contribution to their teams.

    Either way who cares? If you think Hamilton is that much faster/better, then he’ll be more successful…and most likely it won’t impact your life at all.