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Entries in Josh Hamilton (21)


Hamilton's 50 Percent

After last night's 0-for-4 showing in Game One of the World Series, Josh Hamilton has a tepid .267 batting average, a .286 OBP and a .378 slugging percentage during the 2011 playoffs. That's a far cry from the reigning AL MVP's .298/.346/.536 regular season triple-slash, and Hamilton admitted a few days ago that a lingering left groin injury is hindering him:

"I’m about 50 percent," Hamilton told Ben Rogers in an interview on ESPN 103.3 FM. "I’m going to give you 100 percent of my 50 percent."

"We got a lot of power on the team, so I’m definitely not concerning myself with hitting home runs and producing that way," Hamilton said. "Whatever the game asked me to do -- whether get a guy over, or make a catch in the outfield -- I'm trying to do it. I told Kins after our first at-bat [Saturday], 'Let's not try to do too much.' "

Hamilton may well be 50 percent, but you wouldn't know it judging by the distance of his fly balls hit during the postseason. The lefty slugger's fly balls have traveled an average of 318 feet in October, compared to 292 feet during the regular season. Of course, you could argue that some of Hamilton's deep fly ball outs to left and center field (dark blue on the spray chart below) would be round-trippers if he were healthier:

 Hamilton's fly balls hit during the 2011 playoffs

Hamilton has also expanded his already-large strike zone during the playoffs. He has gone after 44 percent of pitches out of the zone, above his 38 percent average during the regular season. In particular, he's trying to poke pitches well off the outside corner of the plate:

 Hamilton's swing rate by pitch location during 2011 playoffs

Those swings on outer-third offerings probably aren't a good thing. Hamilton murderizes pitches thrown inside, but he doesn't inflict a whole lot of pain on outside pitches. Check out his in-play slugging percentage by pitch location in 2011 (including the playoffs):

Hamilton's in-play slugging percentage by pitch location, 2011 (including playoffs)Pitchers seem well aware of Hamilton's issues with outside pitches. They're throwing lots of pitches low and away, many of them out of the zone but close enough that Hamilton still pulls the trigger. Take a look at opponents' pitch location to Hamilton during the playoffs:

 Opponent pitch location to Hamilton during 2011 playoffs

It's hard to ascribe Hamilton's postseason woes to one factor. Maybe it's his groin, turning would-be homers into warning track shots. Maybe it's his plate approach, as he's going after more outside pitches that give him problems. Or maybe it's just plain old bad luck: we're talking about 49 plate appearances, after all. If a couple of those long fly ball outs cleared the fence, Hamilton's playoff line is suddenly .311/.327/.556, and we're surely not having this discussion. Whatever the reason, the Rangers need vintage Josh Hamilton if they're going to top the Cardinals.


Hamilton's Shagadelic Slam

Josh Hamilton is the Santa Claus of carpets. The slugger's fourth inning grand slam last night off Cleveland's David Huff might have bought the good people of Texas more than $500,000 worth of free carpeting and countertops, as a local businessman promised customers a refund if Hamilton went deep with the bases chock full of Rangers in September.

Hamilton wiped the floor with a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner, flicking his wrists and lofting it over the left field wall:

Hamilton's carpet-winning homer, 9/14/2011

While Huff's pitch was high, it's hard to blame him for wanting to pitch Hamilton outside. He's a monster on pitches thrown inside, but a mere mortal on the outer third:

      Hamilton's in-play slugging percentage by pitch location, 2011 Hamilton's .787 slugging percentage on inside pitches ranks behind only Toronto's Brett Lawrie and teammate Nelson Cruz. By no means is Hamilton lousy against pitches on the outer half -- his .424 slugging percentage places 55th out of 403 qualified hitters -- but if you're looking to avoid serving up promotion-winning shots, staying away isn't a bad strategy. Just don't tell Huff that.


Throwing the Ball By Hamilton

Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers suffered an offensive downturn in 2011 compared to 2010.  His .359/.411/.633 slash line from 2010 dropped to .298/.345/.520 in 2011.  The change in the way pitchers approach him offers an idea of why.  The average pitch Josh saw in 2010 wasn't very fast:

Josh Hamilton, pitch velocity, 2010.The pitches above averaged 85.6 MPH.  In 2011, Josh sees a lot more yellow:

Josh Hamilton, pitch velocity, 2011.The average velocity isn't that much greater, 86.6 MPH.  Pitchers aren't afraid to throw the high fastball to Josh, and they are getting him to chase those.  In 2010, he did go out of the strike zone up a bit:

Josh Hamilton, swing rate, 2010.In 2011, he can't lay off the high pitch:

Josh Hamilton, swing rate, 2011.In 2010, Josh hit .338/.455/.688 on high pitches, but he was disciplined high.  In 2011, with the selectivity gone, he's at .253/.387/.480. 

It strikes me that Josh lost a little bat speed.  That allows pitchers to throw him high fastballs, which give him even less time to swing.  This may not be a slump, but opponents exploiting a new weakness.