Los Angeles Angels' Josh Hamilton, Platoon Hitter?

By Thom Tsang
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

It might not seem like it, but there has been times in 2013 where Josh Hamilton didn’t look like a total bust of a long-term contract for the Los Angeles Angels.

He did, for example, actually post a passable .810 OPS in May thanks to his six home runs that month, despite hitting just .237. Those numbers basically replicated themselves in July, and for all the early-season talk about how he was continuing to swing his way into oblivion, he has actually trimmed his strikeout numbers to 24.9 percent this season compared to 29.3 in the second half of 2012.

Now, if he only didn’t trim the rest of his numbers too …

With his power seemingly fluctuating literally month to month (he’s hit just two home runs in both April and June, and has just one in August thus far with a .599 OPS), Hamilton is having a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde season … well, relative to his overall terribleness, anyway.

There way be no more apparent display of this, however, than his lefty-righty splits in 2013.

Not to say that his .250/.314/.454 line over 338 PA against right-handers are anything to be proud of, but those numbers are practically All-Star worthy when compared to his .167/.199/.302 against left-handers over 136 PA. That’s a 168-point OPS difference, with 13 of Hamilton’s 17 homers on the season having come against righties.

On top of that, he strikes out just 21.6 percent of the time against RHP with a BB/K of 0.37. Against lefties? The slugger is essentially useless, swinging away at a 33.1 percent K rate with a BB/K of 0.11.

So, the answer for the Angels is simple, isn’t it?

Well, it’s never simple, of course. Not when the team still has a nine-figure sum committed to him through 2017. They brought the outfielder in from their divisional rival Texas Rangers to smash home runs with Albert Pujols, not to be a platoon hitter who sits every time a lefty is on the opposing mound.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be a permanent arrangement. Hamilton has always shown lefty/righty splits (.769/.934 OPS over career), and that hasn’t stopped him from finding overall success before. From benching him altogether to moving him all over the lineup, Los Angeles has tried just about everything to get the veteran slugger started, and all they’ve seen is his power sputtering thus far.

Even as a temporary measure just to kick start his offense and confidence, the Angels should consider putting Hamilton in a position where he’s most likely to succeed — and these days, that’s nowhere near a lefty.

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