2013 Angels In Review: Josh Hamilton
By Ryan Blanck
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
There’s part of this story that we’re not being told.
See, while driving their U-Haul truck from Texas to SoCal this past January – late at night, somewhere near Roswell, NM – the Hamilton family encountered a bright light in the sky. This blinding light caused their truck to lose power and stop in the middle of the deserted highway. The Hamiltons lost approximately nine minutes of consciousness before resuming their trip to their new home in sunny Southern California.
Josh Hamilton’s next physical exam would reveal a small metallic object imbedded under his skin on the back of his neck. Unable to identify the object, doctors chose not to notify the media for fear of the hysteria it might cause. It was only through sources close to Hamilton who wish not to be identified that I obtained this information.
Ok, I made all that up. Maybe I’ve been watching too many rerun episodes of The X-Files, or maybe I’m as dumbfounded as the next guy about Mr. Hamilton’s slump throughout much of the 2013 season.
Back in December of last year, Arte Moreno and his new GM Jerry Dipoto shocked the baseball world once again with the unexpected signing of Josh Hamilton to a lucrative five-year contract. Shortly after the announcement, another form of heavenly being (the kind that heralds the birth of Messiahs, not the kind that probes our bodies and injects us with unidentifiable metallic objects) broke into the “Hallelujah Chorus” as Mr. Moreno cleared a spot on his mantle for the World Series trophy that would soon be his. Yeah, things didn’t exactly go as planned.
The Halos broke out of the gate like a three-legged horse afflicted with arthritis. They stumbled, they fell, and try as they may, they never really recovered. The pitching staff choked. Pujols ended up on the DL. And Josh Hamilton had perhaps the worst season of his career.
There was a whole lot of head scratching going on in the Big A home dugout. What the hell happened? With a lineup of Trout, Pujols, Trumbo, and Hamilton, the Angels should have hit, like, 400 homeruns and won, like, 150 games. But they couldn’t even break .500 on the season. Mike Trout had another MVP-worthy season. Albert Pujols battled foot problems until he succumbed to the DL. Mark Trumbo… was Mark Trumbo; consistently inconsistent but still had good production.
So what happened to Hamilton? Some guessed it was the pressure of the all the zeroes on his paycheck. Others blamed it on adjusting to his new SoCal digs. The likes of Giorgio A. Tsoulakos and Erich Von Daniken might point the accusatory finger at the aforementioned aliens.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of Hamilton. He’s proven himself to be a great hitter, and I admire his religious faith and the ability to overcome his personal demons and addictions. And he did come around… in September, batting over .320 for the month. Unfortunately it is yet another example of too little too late.
But perhaps 2014 will be better. Perhaps Don Baylor will be able to snap Hamilton out of his nearly season-long funk. Perhaps Hamilton will feel more settled and relaxed in Anaheim and in the batter’s box. Perhaps Mulder and Scully will be able to help identify that chip in his neck and extract it without causing irreparable harm.
Whatever happens, I hope that Moreno gets his $17M worth from Hamilton next season.