Josh Hamilton is Good Again, Folks


I'm sure to a lot of you, that title isn't news. You can probably just skip on by. But, somehow, I keep hearing people expressing disdain over how disappointing Hamilton has been this season after his great 2008, both on message boards and from the media, and he's treated almost like he's struggling as much as he did last year. Really, he might be just as good as '08.

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The offensive production is down a bit, but not as far as it looks in the triple crown stats or even his OPS. Prior to last night's game, his weighted on-base average (after park adjustment) was .357 this season, down from .389 in 2008 but still very good. Most importantly, that's way closer to 2008 than last year's ugly .322. And there's even hope for improvement, as he's swinging out of the zone less often, he's hitting line drives more often and hitting ground balls WAY less often. What's down from '08 is his power, with less isolated power (.209 vs. .226) and the rate home runs are traveling over the fence (15% vs. 19%), but it's still a small sample size as far as both of those are concerned. If he improved his approach this season, there's plenty of time still to think the power may well come.

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It should also be pointed out that offense is down league wide this year. As it is, he's on pace (with no improvement) to to be worth around 22 runs above average if he can approach 2008's PA total, when he put up 33.1. But the defense so far has probably been better. DRS had him at three runs below average in 2008 vs. dead average this season. More dramatically, UZR saw Hamilton at nearly 15 runs below average last year and sees him, again, about average so far this season. Even at a less valuable position, if he were to approach the 700 PA mark this year at this pace, his WAR total would rival or exceed his 2010 performance. In other words: Josh Hamilton is probably doing as much for the Rangers this season as he did two years ago.

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704 plate appearances is a tall order with an offense getting fewer people to the plate, but, barring a decline from here on out or an injury, Josh Hamilton needs to be looked at more like the player we thought we had after his first season in Texas and 2009 probably needs to start being shrugged aside as growing pains, an aberration or simply bad luck.

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