Following an 0-for-3 performance last night, Josh Hamilton addressed, astutely, the cause of his collapse this season from what once looked like another MVP candidacy to now becoming a black hole in the lineup.
When I'm swinging at pitches out of the zone it's no big deal. When I'm swinging at them and missing them it's a big deal. Focus on bringing pitchers back to having to throw me strikes or at least something close enough that I can do something with it. They all know they can throw me questionable pitches, and more than likely I'll swing at them. But when I'm going good, they can do that and I get hits. When I'm not going good, I get myself out. I understand that.
It comes off as though his entire strategy for improving his pitch selection is to wait until he gets out of a funk, and then he'll start hitting all those pitches out of the zone.
Which, of course, isn't how it works. Hamilton got more hits earlier in the year because he saw more strikes. As pitchers have steadily moved more and more away from the zone over the course of the season, Hamilton has responded by continuing to swing at everything and hope for the best. You respond not by just saying "when I'm going good, it's fine," you respond by not chasing so many pitches.
Fixing that is easier said than done, of course, but Hamilton's plate approach is disastrous. At 46.4%, he's been swinging at pitches out of the strikezone more often than anyone in baseball. The result of that is 19.8% of pitches thrown to him this season resulting in swinging strikes. That's by far the highest rate in baseball. Chris Davis is second at 14.9%, and the difference between Hamilton and Davis is as large as the difference between Davis and the 52nd ranked Adam LaRoche.
A swing-at-everything approach is a huge red flag when it comes to baseball players aging, and it's made even worse in this case by someone whose response to pitchers taking advantage of him seems to be "oh well, I'll get out of it." Is this really someone you want to hand over a large contract to as he drifts farther and farther from his peak?