What’s Wrong With Josh Hamilton?

Josh Hamilton

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

The Texas Rangers are 30-19 after 49 contests, leading the Angels in the AL West by 5.5 games after play on Saturday. The Rangers’ quick start can be attributed to their potent offense, which ranks fifth in the majors, scoring 5.44 runs per game.

Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz have led the way for Texas, combining to hit .303 through the first two months of the season.

Josh Hamilton, however, hasn’t been quite as productive, posting a miserable .234 batting clip while battling through a groin injury.

From a fantasy perspective, how should we interpret Hamilton’s slow start? The numbers tell an interesting story…

Hamilton’s first half totals in 2008 put him on a ridiculous 37 HR/165 RBI pace. His power production waned in the second half, as expected, to the tune of 11 HR and 35 RBI.

While those totals were a far cry from his pre-All Star Break pace, his second half stats would have projected to 28 HR and 90 RBI over the course of 162 games.

Comparatively, his 2009 totals to date project to 29 bombs and 114 RBI over the course of an entire season. The only major difference between his down-to-earth 2008 second half, and his first 34 games in 2009 is his batting average.

Josh Hamilton
Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

The second half of 2008 saw the No. 1 overall pick in 1999 hit .296, 62 points higher than his current .234 batting clip.

The decrease in average can be attributed to his low .264 BABIP, which is down from the .318 and .339 marks he posted in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Hamilton’s poor BABIP in 2009 is supported by his low line drive percentage, (15.6) compared to his career mark of 20.9 percent. His HR/FB ratio is down as well, currently standing at 12.5 percent, compared to 19.5 percent for his career.

These totals are likely to rise once he overcomes his groin injury.

What’s most concerning, though, is that his BB percentage currently sits at 6.8 percent, down from 10 and 9.3 percent in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Likewise, his strikeout percentage is on the rise, currently standing at 25 percent, up from 21.8 and 20.2 percent in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Even more puzzling is Hamilton’s current .195/.250/.390 line in his hitter-friendly home park, opposed to his .310/.356/.571 line on the road.

So what should we make from all of this?

Josh Hamilton
Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

A scout I talked to recently took a different approach to explaining Hamilton’s slow start.

He pointed out that Hamilton didn’t play a single game in the minors between 2003 and 2005. In 2006, he played in just 15 games. Hamilton finally made his major league debut in 2007, playing in 90 games for the Reds. It wasn’t until 2008 when Hamilton endured an entire season, playing in 156 games for the Rangers.

Based on these facts, Hamilton has about the same pro experience as Boston prospect Lars Anderson, who is currently in his third season in the Red Sox organization.

This scout argued that Hamilton has yet to physically mature, and his limited playing time in ’06 and ’07 allowed him the rest he needed to come on strong in 2008. While he suggested fantasy managers should approach Hamilton with caution, he noted “the best of Josh Hamilton will come in a year or two.”

This theory, while an interesting one, is not something I necessarily agree with. It does, however, come from a respected baseball scout, and should be taken into consideration.

Approaching Hamilton with caution, as the scout I talked to suggested, is probably the best advice. It would be foolish to expect another 130 RBI campaign this season, especially when you consider the groin injury he is battling through.

On Sunday Hamilton announced he will soon meet with a specialist in an effort to figure out why his groin is still bothering him. Judging by the lingering effects this injury has had on Hamilton, I would expect it to continue to be a problem.

With that in mind, I’ve held back on my original projections for Hamilton. Proceed with caution.

R HR RBI SB AVG
PACE 95 29 114 14 .234
PROJ 75 23 90 8 .275

PACE represents Hamilton’s 162-game pace based on his current stats. PROJ represents what I project Hamilton’s stat line to be at the end of the season. These numbers are based on games played before Sunday, May 31.

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16 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    June 1, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    First!

  2. Altitude

    June 1, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    No doubt Hamilton will pick it up throughout the season. I feel like this guys has not gotten any games in. He plays for a little bit, begins to get into a groove and then an injury.

    Very surprised to see the Rangers hanging above the Angels this far into the season, but the Angels pitching is coming around so Texas better keep up the pace.

  3. Nick Kappel

    June 2, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks for the comment Altitude.

    I can definitely see your point. It seems like because of this injury, Hamilton has yet to get into a good rhythm.

    It’ll be interesting to see if he can get back out there and help carry the Rangers’ lead into the second half.

  4. Trevor Cole

    July 15, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Great Website, I run a Giants baseball blog located @ http://giantsbaseballblog.blogspot.com/ and I was wondering if you guys would like to do a link exchange? Just let us know and we’ll add you to our site asap. Thanks, and keep up the terrific work!
    .-= Trevor Cole´s last blog ..Giants First Half Review – Part One =-.

    • Peter Schiller

      July 17, 2009 at 1:26 pm

      Thanks Trevor, I have added you to our Teams Blogroll page under the Giants! If you could let us know when you add us to your links that would be great!

  5. UTAlan

    August 27, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Great article. I don’t know how you’d take into account his time on the DL, but his batting average and stolen bases are dead-on with your projected stats. R, HR, and RBI are way below, though. I’d be interested to see how it would come out if you prorated his time off.
    .-= UTAlan´s last blog ..2009 Preseason Heisman Watch =-.

  6. Nick Kappel

    August 27, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks for the comment Alan.

    I actually wrote this article the day before he hit the DL. I got the news just before I submitted the post, which allowed me to adjust my projects for him knowing that he would be missing some time.

    I kind of lucked out with the SB total and average, but keep in mind there’s still a lot of baseball to be played. It doesn’t look like he’ll come anywhere near my power projections, but it’s worth mentioning that he’s raised his BA 54 points since the beginning of August.

  7. Melita Kuzara

    September 21, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Hey has anyone ever said that your website won’t load successfully in the Opera browser? In Firefox and IE it appears to be fine, but in Opera most of the images and text are just a little off. It could be that I need to update my version, but I just thought I’d inform you so you can look into it.

    • Peter Schiller

      September 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

      Yes, I think so, but Opera doesn’t bring in enough visitors to take the necessary time to find out what is causing the problem. Like you did, someone could just view it in IE, Firefox or Chrome instead.

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  8. Finnegan Ross

    January 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

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