The Mystery That is Josh Hamilton

By Anthony Laughlin

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like just yesterday the Angels shocked the baseball world yet again in signing potential MVP candidate Josh Hamilton. After a very disappointing 2013 season, Hamilton was poised to make a huge impact on the already potent lineup in 2014.

As expected he started the season sizzling in the four hole behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, where he hit upwards of .400. Two weeks into the season, he sustained a torn ligament in his wrist that forced him to miss nearly two months. He hasn’t exactly been the same guy ever since.

Hamilton’s name usually screams home runs and runs batted in based on statistics in his time with the Texas Rangers. It’s been a totally different story with Los Angeles.

Last season, he hit only 21 home runs, and drove in a measly 79 runs (to his credit, Hamilton did make a major improvement towards the end of the season). This year he has scattered eight home runs while driving in only 35. Even more surprisingly, he is yet to hit a home run at Angel Stadium this year. The Hamilton power outage is a major cause for concern.

As with any player there are good times and bad. A major con that is associated with Hamilton is the abundance of strikeouts. It seems as if this season has been the worst for him. At times he just seems completely lost and other times where he is completely locked in. Hamilton’s strikeout rate this season is up to an alarming 31.3 percent, as he has struck out 96 times in 274 at-bats. He has only put 56 percent of balls in play and his line drive percentage is at 32.

Obviously these stats tell the story of the tough season Hamilton is having but what do the Angels do with him down the stretch and in the postseason?

Even with the struggles of Hamilton, he still can be a major contributor to the team. He still has a presence that puts fear into the opponent. He also brings tons of playoff experience, as he played in the World Series in 2010 and 2011. This could prove vital given that only a handful of players on the Angel roster have seen the playoffs.

A short term change could be a temporary move in the lineup, whether it be higher or lower. Hamilton has even expressed to manager Mike Scioscia that he does not prefer to hit clean-up, but he likes to hit in the third or even fifth spots. However inconsistency in the DH position and the struggles Aybar and Kendrick have had, there is no viable option to plug into the fourth spot.

Any way the Scioscia switches up the lineup, they will still be as potent as ever, and mixed with the stellar pitching, the rest of the season should be a fun ride.