Josh Hamilton: One year after his big night

Yesterday, May 8, was the 1-year anniversary of one of
the most memorable nights in DFW sports history.  Twas the night that
Josh Hamilton hit 4 Home Runs in 5 at bats at Baltimore.

They were all 2-run homers and it marked only the 16th time in the
history of baseball that 4 home runs were hit in the same game and it rocked
the sports world.  Not only that, but the 8 RBIs were his new career
high and the 18 total bases on the night against the Orioles was an all-time
American League Record.

It continued a run of
fantastic play in 2012 that seemed like it might go on for the entire summer
following the 2011 World Series where Josh appeared to have won with a Home Run
late in Game 6 until bad things happened.

Here are
reminders of the heroics on May 8, 2012:

People that occasionally knee
jerk (I look in the mirror), have these discussions in front of live
microphones.  I am pretty sure I was ready to rush to his
representatives the next day and figure out this negotiation that had troubled
the public for quite a while before that evening.

Caution was being thrown to the wind.  He was so good that we should
ignore all of the warning signs that things could end without much notice.

That night raised his average to .406, his OBP to .458, his
slugging to a Bonds/Ruth-like .840, and his OPS to 1.298.  He sat at
14 Home Runs, with 36 RBIs, and a strikeout rate at 19.8%.

He clearly had issues to consider that made Albert Pujols, Prince
Fielder, or Jayson Werth’s contracts seem unreasonable comparisons, but both
sides – assuming they wanted to extend their relationship, would have to find
numbers to work with on a new post-arbitration contract to get him that cash
that he has worked hard to attain.

If you can remember
back that far, he certainly was not against saying things that gave you pause.
 The latest, after his “issues” that popped up before spring
training in 2012, were that there would be no “home town discount” to
stay with the Rangers.  They were not owed anything by his
calculations which may have been his sincere feelings or just negotiation
tactics.  Either way, they were not well received when most observers
had seen the Rangers bend over backwards to accommodate him.  They
did, and to this point in time, he had not let them down in 4 years and change
with the Rangers.

Here were his career numbers from
2008-May 8, 2012 with the Rangers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Games ABs HRs/RBIs AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

526

2071 113/414 .316/.370/.556 .927 19.9%

And, again, here were his numbers
from 2012 on May 9, 2012:



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Games ABs HRs/RBIs AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

27

106 14/36 .406/.458/.840 1.298 19.8%

I am always fascinated by the negotiation in sports.
 It is something that we have a hard time relating because in the
world most of us live in, it is all based on past performance.  We do
things well, and it is generally assumed that we continue to do things well in
the business world because our speed or hand-eye coordination shouldn’t affect
our ability to sell or buy or broadcast.

Sure, the employer looks at age with some
consideration, but compared to a professional athlete, that seems like a
distinct difference, and then compound it with Josh’s very complex
backstory.
He
needed a contract.  One that would carry him from 2013 (when he turns
32 on May 21) to the end of his productive years.  If he could get
8-10 years like everyone else, he would try, but we would find out that the
Angels bid 5 years and we really have very little proof of whether there even
was a 2nd bidder to know if they merely outbid themselves.  
Anyway, back to last year.
 He would remain red hot through the month of May and here were his
numbers on June 1, 2012:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Games ABs HRs/RBIs AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

48

186 21/57 .366/.417/.758 1.175 21.5%

And somehow around there is where the “things”
started happening.  Tough to go back and list them all, but there were
contact lenses, energy drinks, lethargy, tobacco, and a list of things that
made guys like me put him in the Dez Bryant “it is always something with
this guy” bin.  

It absolutely affected his play, but his numbers, even when playing
poorly still looked pretty strong in certain categories.  Here is what
the numbers from June 1 – the end of 2012 looked like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Games ABs HRs/RBIs AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

101

380 22/71 .245/.322/.487 .809 32.3%

Again, a stat line of 22 home runs and 71 RBIs is a real
nice season for most players.  If we are going to say this is only 4
months of a year and that it is supposed to be shockingly pathetic, you can
understand some people wondering if you are being reasonable.

Here is the whole of 2012 that
the Rangers’ brass had to chew on against the moment in Oakland that has become
his defining last moment as a Ranger:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Games ABs HRs/RBIs AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

148

562 43/128 .285/.354/.577 .930 28.8%

versus this:

So, by the end of the year,
Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan had to make a decision.  I am reasonably sure that there were never
real sincere efforts by JD to sign up for more years with Hamilton here.  Nolan has given indications since then that
he was more interested, but even that is difficult to pin down.

 The Angels put a giant 5 year/$125m deal on Josh and of
course, since then we have heard Josh alienate the city with his thoughts on
DFW being a “baseball town” or not.

That
makes for good copy, but if he puts up another year of 43 HRs and 128 RBIs,
there is a pretty good chance the Angels win big and his comments are but a
footnote.

But, because his play from June 1 to the end
of the season in 2012 appears to have relocated in Anaheim, the mystery of what
the next 5 years will be like in California has become a daily discussion in
Texas.

Make no mistake – he, just 1-year ago today,
was a fan favorite.  Maybe, he was THE fan favorite.  At
least on a national level, he was the face of the Texas Rangers.

He has since left and returned to boos.  It looks like
another absolute stroke of genius from Daniels, a guy who appears to be
incapable of getting decisions like these wrong anymore.  Josh has
started very slow in Anaheim so far this season.  Very slow.
 Even with a home run yesterday in Houston, here is why the good
people of Orange County are freaking out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Games ABs HRs/RBIs AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

33

132 3/10 .205/.255/.311 .566 30.3%

The numbers for the last year from May 9 to May 9 will
not be as stunning as June 1 to June 1, we assume, but given his very poor
start in Anaheim, we can now look at the last 365 days from Josh.

Josh Hamilton, May 9, 2012 through May 9, 2013:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Games ABs HRs/RBIs AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

154

588 32/102 .245/.313/.469 .783 30.7%

Again, for ease, here are the numbers from 2008 – May 8,
2012 (what looks like you would assume a $25 million player produces):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Games ABs HRs/RBIs AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

526

2071 113/414 .316/.370/.556 .927 19.9%

And then, here are the American League Averages for this year for the entire
league:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


AVG/OBP/SLUG OPS K
Rate

.255/.321/.411

.732 22.5%

This tells you that he has dropped substantially in most
numbers, and that power advantage he has will largely disappear when we go June
1 to June 1 in a few weeks.

It is way early to declare
a 5-year contract a failure before Mother’s Day of season 1.  But,
he
is a player who said himself that
:


“When I
feel a sense of urgency, I do worse. I need to keep working the process, have
good early work and cage sessions, and when it clicks it will
click.”
 

“Every day I get to play a game
for a living, I have fun,” Hamilton said. “It’s no fun when you
stress about every pitch, every at-bat. If you have fun, you’ll play to the
best of your ability. It’s going to come eventually. It’s not there yet. Stress
just prolongs things.”

He is way better
than he is showing, but you do wonder if the Rangers got out at just the right
time on this highly volatile stock.

Early returns
seem to indicate as much.