Since coming back from a minor wrist injury, Josh Hamilton has been doing something that he hasn’t done all season. Get on base regularly. A few weeks ago, this didn’t seem possible. I had resigned myself to the idea that I wasn’t going to see Hamilton do anything spectacular this season. That the money the Angels were spending on him was wasted, and probably would have been better suited being converted to heat energy. Some have suggested that Hamilton is back to chewing tobacco, and that this could be the reason for his recent hot streak. Some have suggested that a voodoo shaman lifted whatever curse was on him, but I have no links to those reports, so you’re just going to have to trust me.
With a base hit last night against the Cardinals, Hamilton pushed his hitting streak to eight games, lifting his season slash line to .225/.286/.391. It’s the fourth longest streak for the Angels this season behind Alberto Callaspo (12 games), Erick Aybar (11 games) and the duo of Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos (10 games each). During Josh’s current streak, he’s posting a slash line of .407/.500/.519. Looks pretty sexy right? Well, it would look if Hamilton was a slap hitting middle infielder. Josh’s ISO during that span is a weak .108, which is the same as Yunel Escobar‘s career ISO, and one point better than Bill Mazeroski‘s.
Weak. Weak weak weak weak, weak.
Of Josh’s 11 hits during his current streak, only three have gone for extra bases, and all three have been doubles. This very well could be a “getting back to basics” type streak that Hamilton is on before he (hopefully) explodes and actually hits like Josh Hamilton. This could also just be a flash in the pan streak built around a series against the Houston Astros who Josh has been very solid against this year posting a .302/.400/.721 slash line. In Houston is also where all three of Josh’s doubles came during this streak.
Not to be a total bummer, there are positive things going on over the last week-plus of games for Hamilton. Most notably, his walk and strikeout rates. Two stats that have been worse than his career norms.
For the season, Josh has a strikeout rate of 24.7%. That is actually better than last year when his striekout rate was 25.5%, but it is well above his career average of 20.2%. Josh’s walk rate on the other hand, sits at a 7.1% which is below his career average of 8.2%. But a high walk rate last year for Josh (9.4%), looks like an outlier compared to the rest of his career. During this streak, Josh has struck out in 20.2% of his plate appearances, or right around his career average. Conversely, he has walked in 14.7% of plate appearances, which is way way way above his career average. But Josh’s plate discipline was something that Angels hitting coach Jim Eppard really wanted to have Hamilton improve upon this season. Has Josh taken to it? Maybe. But a larger sample size is necessary.
Less power. More discipline. Small sample. Hamilton could very easily explode tonight against the Cardinals, or tomorrow against the Red Sox. He;s that talented of a hitter. Josh could also just as easily (considering how this year has gone), go back to hitting just as badly as David Murphy has been hitting for the Rangers this year. But whatever Josh has been doing over the last eight games, regardless of whether or not he is hitting for power, he should keep doing. Because the bottom line during that stretch is, he hasn’t been an automatic out. You’ve given away plenty of outs this year, Josh. It’s time to be less frivolous with the outs you are allotted per game.