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Entries in Josh Hamilton (21)

Friday
Jul122013

Josh Hamilton is Finally Looking like Like Last May

The Josh Hamilton story need not be repeated here. Eventually the movie that is being directed by Casey Affleck will come out, and we can all relive Josh's harrowing experience as he climbed from the gutters of drug addiction to the highest peaks of baseball stardom. What can be repeated, is that in December of last year, there was more than a quiet buzz on Katella Ave. in the city of Anaheim. After Arte Moreno had gone and had one of the most expensive free-agent shopping sprees ever prior to the 2012 season with the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, he went and did it again. 

Luxury tax be damned. Payroll be damned. Signing a player on the wrong side of 30...again...damn.

Welcome to the Angels

After having a solid spring training, when nothing mattered at all, Hamilton stormed out of the gates in April to the tune of a .204/.252/.296 slash line. It was the only month in Hamilton's career that he has ever had an OPS under .600. May was better OPS-wise, as he put up .237/.315/.495 slash line, good for an .810 OPS. But then he cratered again in June with a .231/.284/.396 line.

This was going to be a long season.

Even eternally optimistic fans were starting to dread not just this season, but the four years left on that $125MM deal. 

With brown paper sacks in hand, Halo fans prepared for the absolute worst.

But then, Josh hurt his wrist during an aggressive hitting drill during a late-June series against the Pirates. He sat out the series. Upon coming back in the next series against the Tigers, he got a hit in his first game back.

Then another one in the next game.

Then another. 

Before you knew it, 12 games later, Hamilton had a nice little hitting streak going ending the other night in Chicago, but then he followed that up with two home runs in the following game.

It's only two weeks into July, but currently, he is sporting a .290/.353/.710 line. A line that, in some ways, is very similar to the .344/.405/.781 month of May that Josh had in 2012.

Did I lose you with that connection?

Yeah, I thought so. It's a pretty big leap to join those two months together. 

May 2012 and July 2013

Josh hit 12 home runs last May (he has 14 in all of 2013).

Yeah, that is a ton of red. It is also a lot of space that is being taken up pitches being swung at. 

Last May, Josh swung at an astounding 57.7% of pitches thrown his way. Yet he still managed to strike out in less than 20% of his plate appearances (barely, 19.8%) and walked in more than 10% of his plate appearances (again, barely with a 10.8 BB%). How? I don't know. If you had thrown the rosin bag towards the plate, he would have swung. It was just one of those months.

But this is where Josh's recent surge over the last two weeks actually looks better than the one he had last May. 

Josh's upper cut-type swing is made for pitches low in the zone. And he has done a good job of going after those pitches so far this month. But what has made July 2013 nearly as good as May 2012, is not how much or how hard he is hitting the ball, but rather, how much he is not swinging at the ball.

If you go by the last two weeks, instead of "just games played within the month of July," Josh has a well-above-what-Angels-fans-have-come-to-expect, 13% walk rate. By adding in those last few days in June (which was a three-game series against the Astros), Hamilton's slash line explodes. If you recall, his July line is .290/.353/.710, add in those three games and it is .333/.435/.744.

An identical ISO (Isolated Slugging) of .410 for both time frames, and a better walk rate so far this month. Angels fans have been waiting for this kind of outburst from Hamilton, and now that it is happening, they are afraid to breathe on it for fear of it vanishing like a whisper in the breeze.

The month is only half over, and there is also that silly All-Star break next week that could have who-knows-what kind of effect on the run that Hamilton is currently on. But for the time being, Angels fans have put away the head covers, and are donning their team swag. Even bringing their Josh Hamilton jerseys out of the closet for some sunlight.

Of course, now that I have written something about Josh's streak, he'll more than likely turn back into a pumpkin, and slump through the rest of the season.

But what if he doesn't?

As awful as the the Angels have played, they are only 6.5 games back in the wild card race and that's nothing when you have a hot Josh Hamilton. 

Tuesday
May142013

About one in three Justin Upton's fly balls are home runs

Joe Sheehan has a great piece in the 5/13 edition of Sports Illustrated presenting the case for Justin Upton.

Sheehan writes about Upton, "He's swinging harder and missing more pitches (a 12% swing-and-miss rate, his highest since 2009), but he's crushing the ones he's hitting: An absurd 35.3% of his fly balls leave the yard."

This got me curious as to who else has a high flyball to HR percentage.

To his credit, Sheehan in his article was quick to point out, "Upton isn't going to hit 60 bombs. His home-run-to-fly-ball rate isn't sustainable; his career mark coming into this year was 13.2%. The league leaders in the category usually end up around 25%."

As you can see from the chart above, Upton has already dropped down to 30.2%.

Not surprisingly, right behind him are Ryan Braun and Bryce Harper, both with numbers in the upper 20th percentile. But it may surprise you (because it did me) how good Mets teammates John Buck and Lucas Duda's numbers are.

Carlos Gomez and Ryan Howard are both at 15.8%

Then you have to look and wonder what s going on with David Wright, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, and Buster Posey, all of whom are in the 13th percentile of flyballs turning into homers.

Take a look at the guys under 10% and you will be amazed to see names including Alfonso Soriano, Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp.

Their teams have to be wondering what happened to the power?

Looking at the AL and we see Mark Trumbo and Michael Morse's power in action

Chris Davis is pounding the baseball and the Indians have to be thrilled with the success of Mark Reynolds and Carlos Santana.

Robinson Cano is making it more and more expensive for the Yankees to keep him. And, Chris Carter and Jose Bautista have identical numbers.

But what has happened to the Red Sox' Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks?

In the 15th percentile are a number of batters including: Miguel Cabrera, Mitch Moreland, Alex Rios, Josh Willingham, Adrian Beltre, Alex Gordon and Mike Trout.

And their numbers are better than Adam Jones, Billy Butler, Albert Pujols (10.6%!) and Josh Hamilton (10.0%!!).

There is a lot of warning track power being exhibited these days, but just remember there is a much better opportunity for something good happening on a fly ball than on a strikeout.

Saturday
Apr132013

Hamilton Off to Hellish Start with Angels

Josh Hamilton has endured a lousy April thus far. He got the heel treatment from former fans in Texas, his new club is an AL-worst 2-8 and he's dragging down what was supposed to be a juggernaut Angels offense. Hamilton has a .179/.261/.231 batting line and is homerless in 46 plate appearances -- hardly the sort of production becoming of a $25 million a year slugger.

Hamilton has managed to post MVP-type numbers during his career despite being one of the game's most trigger-happy hitters. However, his plate discipline has taken yet another step backward early on in 2013. The Angels might as well return to the California moniker, because Hamilton is swinging -- and flailing -- at everything from Crescent City to San Diego.

Check out Hamilton's swing rate by pitch location this season. It's not just that he's taking a hack at pitches thrown off the plate -- it's that those pitches are in another zip code:

Hamilton has chased about 47% of pitches thrown outside of the zone this year, up from 42% in 2012 and tied with Chicago's Alexei Ramirez for the highest rate in the majors. He's batting .063 (1-for-16) against off-the-plate pitches, managing just a single off a Yu Darvish curveball on the border of the strike zone.

It's nearly impossible to get good results at the plate when you chase, even if you're blessed with superhuman strength and coordination. Hamilton defied the odds by batting .276 against out-of-zone pitches in 2010 (about 100 points above the MLB average), perhaps emboldening him to take his hacking exploits to another level. Since then, however, Hamilton's batting .182 when chasing off the plate.

Hamilton seems to be turning into the baseball equivalent of Icarus, ignoring warnings about his approach and flying too close to the sun. Uber-talented or not, Hamilton's going to lose his wings if he keeps going after so many junk pitches.