Jobu weighs in on Josh Hamilton’s extended slump.
Yesterday, we talked about one of our feel-good redemption stories, Travis Hafner. There’s a guy the Yankees threw a couple of million at hoping he’d do something to help the team, and he has gone above and beyond so far in this young season. Today’s post takes us to the complete and polar opposite situation. Josh Hamilton hit free agency this past off-season and signed a monster deal to become a Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim (Angel… Anaheim… Angels), and his bat has completely disappeared. So what’s wrong with him?
For those of you who haven’t been following, Hamilton is off to a horrid start in 2013. As I mentioned earlier, he signed a ridiculous 5 year, $125MM contract with the Angels, as they pieced together what has really become the most disappointing team in the league. Maybe the World Champion Toronto Blue Jays™ (WCTBJ for short) could battle Anaheim for that title, but either way… It’s been bad in Anaheim. Anyway, while Hamilton is far from solely to blame (the Angels have very little pitching), his .202/.248/..287 slash line and only 2 homers certainly aren’t helping things. Hamilton has only driven in 9 runs and managed 6 extra base hits in his 32 games, and he’s fanned 38 times.
So what is it about Anaheim that makes people play crappy when they sign there? C.J. Wilson fell short of expectations last season after his big contract, and Albert Pujols didn’t homer in April in 2012 either. Is the franchise cursed? Probably not. More likely that the big contracts got into these guys’ heads and they felt the pressure of living up to the dollar amount on the dotted line. You have to believe that Hamilton, who hit .285/.354/.577 last year with 43 homers and 128 RBI, is going to break out of his slump, but just how prolonged is it?
Remember last year, when he would disappear for months at a time? In June and July, he hit .202 with 8 combined homers. He only hit .259 in September, although he did hit 7 homers, and closed out the season with a 2-13 (.154) October. He was a big reason the Rangers blew the division in the last weekend of the season, even dropping a big fly ball in the disastrous sweep by Oakland. I mentioned that he has 38 Ks in just 31 games this year, so it’s also worth noting that he struck out a career high 162 times last season to. His previous high was 126, way back in 2008. That could be another cause for alarm.
The question should be raised… Is the now 33-year-old Hamilton on the down swing of his short, yet explosive career? Is he ever going to be that .359/.411/.633 hitter he was in his 2010 MVP campaign? I don’t think he’s quite done, but he won’t ever be the 2010 Josh Hamilton again. However, if he can recover enough to become the .298/.346/.536 guy he was in 2011, and find some kind of medium road from his up and down 2012, the Angels won’t be killing themselves over the contract they gave him. Right now it doesn’t look good, but here’s hoping Josh finds his swing soon.
Featured image courtesy of: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports
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