They say that all journeys start with a single step, and for Josh Hamilton, that might not be enough to get him where he’d like to be.
That’s at the heart of the order as a primary cog in the offense, where he’d been designated by the Los Angeles Angels prior to the 2013 season when they made him the beneficiary of a five-year, $125 million contract. After all, he didn’t earn his payday for being a slap hitter, and it goes without saying that the Angels can’t really afford to have him keep that habit up, even if it meant he was actually doing something.
No, Hamilton’s road to redemption would have to be paved by baseballs being hit out of the park and besides, he’d had just about enough of hitting singles, anyway.
If you thought the Angels slugger’s recent run of knocks in June were a precursor to eventually having ‘extra’ tacked on in front of said base hits … well, you’d be perfectly right. Though the 32-year old did not homer in his latest game, a 1-for-4 outing on Friday, he still managed to show off his power with a double.
It was just his second in the month, but when you consider that it was the fifth in his last 12 games, and things start to look more optimistic for the man who carried a .223/.283/.392 triple slash into the first day of July.
Oh, did I mention that he’s knocked out four home runs in that span too?
That’s seven total extra-base hits over his last 50 PA, to go with the .300/.391/.700 triple-slash he’s posted in the last 14 days. At 0.7 fWAR, he’s been the second-most valuable member of the Angels offense over the last two weeks. In other words, Hamilton has been more or less where he needs to be for the Angels.
Getting there and staying there are two different things, however, and as the former All-Star and MVP well know from experience of his second-half collapse in 2012.
Still, there are plenty of positive signs here. A dramatically reduced 47.1 percent swing rate (though he still whiffs on swings at 14.6 percent) suggest that he’s taking a much more disciplined approach over the last two weeks, as reflected by his 13 percent walk rate. Moreover, his .320 BABIP does not suggest outrageous luck, and he is starting to hit more fly balls, at 41.4 percent over the 14-day span.
When 33.3 percent of those fly balls are leaving the park you know something is going right with his prodigal power.
Now, if the Angel can just get Albert Pujols to follow suit …