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Entries in Josh Hamilton (21)


New Halo Josh Hamilton is a Prodigious Slugger

Josh Hamilton has an intriguing life story, but this next chapter will make things interesting in the world of Major League Baseball. He hit the free agent market for the first time in his career following the 2012 season, and he was allowed to choose his team and his price. He chose the Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim, who signed him today for 5 years at $125 million. Hamilton is a polarizing player; at his best, he is one of the best pure hitters in the game, but at his worst, off the field conduct could be detrimental to a team. The Angels will be getting a lot on their plate, but if he can bring his monster home run swing with him, they will instantly move a lot closer to contending. 

Since joining the Texas Rangers Major League club in 2008, Hamilton has been one of the best run producers in the game, failing to reach 25 HR and 94 RBI in only an injury plagued 2009 season. In 2010, he won the MVP after posting a 1.044 OPS, putting him at tops in the league. His ability to take over the inside half of the plate was evident all season, and can be seen in the graphic below. 

As you can see, Hamilton crushed the ball inside that year, but there is more to the story. His ability to hit pitches on the outside for power was significantly less, which pitchers began to notice. In 2010, pitchers focused on the outside corner, but after his big season, since 2011, pitchers have been moving the ball further away from him, yielding mixed results.

At first, Hamilton struggled, seeing his ability to hit for extra bases diminish, but in 2012, he adjusted his swing and shifted his power stroke to cover the entire strike zone.

If the Angels get the 2012 version of Hamilton, who has the ability to cover the whole plate with his power swing, he may be worth every penny of the deal he signed. Putting aside his background, Hamilton has the pure ability to be the best hitter in all of baseball, and if he goes to LA and keeps his mind solely focused on baseball, he could be one of the best free agent sluggers to sign with a new team in recent years.


Will Josh Hamilton also whiff in free agency?

From 2009-11, Josh Hamilton averaged 89 strikeouts a season. In 2008, Hamilton whiffed 126 times his career high until Hamilton shockingly struck out 162 times this season.

Here's a guy who had struck out once every 5.5 and 5.2 at bats over the last two seasons and whiffed once every 3.5 times this season; 25.5% of all of his plate appearances ended in a strikeout.

Let's take a look at what happened.

In 2009, Hamilton struck out 79 times.

34 strikeouts on fastballs, 13 on sliders, and 18 on curves

In 2010, Hamilton struck out 95 times.

38 strikeouts on fastballs and 18 on sliders

In 2011, Hamilton struck out 93 times.

24 on fastballs and 26 on sliders

In 2012, Hamilton struck out 162 times.

44 on fastballs, 46 on sliders, 31 on curves, 20 on change-upsIt is pretty apparent that pitchers have found that Hamilton is having an increasing difficulty distinguishing between fastballs and sliders. Beyond that they realize that they can get Hamilton to chase pitches out of the zone. While Hamilton chased 79.3% of the fastballs he swung at, his chase numbers for curves and sliders were 95.8% and 97.1% respectively.

In case you are curious, the left-handed Hamilton struck out 54 times against lefties and exactly double that amount, 108 times, against righties. 

Look at the pitches thrown by righties that did not result in a strikeout

There were a lot thrown in the zone and Hamilton punished pitches in the zone.

Hamilton's hits versus righties in 2012

There is very little point in throwing pitches in the zone, that Hamilton can and will hit, if you can get him to chase pitches out of the zone.

Look at the pitches Hamilton chased on strikeouts against righties in 2012

After looking this, I urge every GM considering making a big offer to Hamiliton:

Caveat emptor baby, Caveat to the Emptor!


Hot Spots for '12 AL MVP Finalists

The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced finalists for its awards on Wednesday, including American League MVP. Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton or Mike Trout will get the hardware next Thursday on MLB Network. Here's a quick look at each candidate's heat map during the 2012 season. Unlike on election night, there's a lot of red here.

Adrian Beltre

Beltre mashed middle pitches -- his .786 slugging percentage on offerings thrown to the horizontal middle of the plate ranked second among qualified batters (Adam LaRoche was first):

Miguel Cabrera

Miggy, meanwhile, was the game's most dangerous hitter when pitchers tried to bust him inside. Cabrera slugged .673 against inside pitchers, slightly edging out Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper:

Robinson Cano

Cano had two major hot spots: down and in, and high and way. He slugged .614 versus down-and-in pitches (nearly 180 points above the MLB average) and .698 on high-and-away stuff (290 points above the MLB average).


Josh Hamilton

Hamilton's hot spot was, well, everywhere:

He ranked in the top 10 in slugging against inside, middle, and away pitches. Hamilton's prowess against in-zone pitches (he slugged .817 against pitches thrown in the zone, best in the majors and 123 points above runner-up Ryan Braun) explains why pitchers so rarely challenged him. Hamilton saw the lowest percentage on in-zone pitches (35.1%) of any qualified hitter. Prince Fielder ranked a distant second at 40.7%.

Mike Trout

Unless pitchers went high-and-inside or painted low and away, Trout made them pay. The 21-year-old was especially deadly against pitches thrown to the horizontal middle of the zone, ranking fourth among hitters with a .758 slugging percentage:


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