As the 2023 baseball season progresses, early standout performances and statistics that once seemed like small sample-size anomalies are beginning to stabilize. For the New York Yankees, one pattern that has persisted is the excellence of reliever Ian Hamilton.
The Yankees signed Hamilton to a minor league contract in early February, and at the time, he had logged only 14.2 innings over three separate seasons in the majors, with a lackluster 4.91 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and a 9/8 K/BB ratio.
However, the Yankees are known for their prowess in developing pitchers rather than position players. They worked with Hamilton, revamped his slider, and encouraged him to use it more frequently. The outcome has been remarkable.
After another impeccable appearance against the Cleveland Guardians on Wednesday night, the right-hander boasts a 1.56 ERA, 21 strikeouts, and a 0.92 WHIP in 10 games and 17.1 innings.
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The Yankees trust Hamilton:
Although Hamilton didn’t make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster, he was called up on April 3 and has since proven indispensable. Despite needing roster spots on multiple occasions, the team has refused to send him down. It’s easy to see why: Hamilton has emerged as one of their top relievers.
He now throws an average of two miles per hour faster than last year, at 95.7 mph. His slider, which had an 11.1% whiff rate in a very limited 2022 sample, now boasts an impressive 41.2% whiff rate. Consequently, it has become his go-to pitch, accounting for 54.4% of his throws, compared to 25.4% for four-seamers and 20.2% for sinkers. All three pitches have yielded above-average results.
Hamilton’s Statcast profile is a sea of red (which indicated high percentile stats).
Through diligent work and a strategic plan, the Yankees have transformed a diamond in the rough into a legitimately skilled MLB reliever. Hamilton is now one of the most reliable arms in a depleted bullpen.