Josh Hamilton‘s off-field redemption story has been well documented over the years.
And while what he does on the baseball field pales to what he’s managed to mostly overcome what he admits to as being day-to-day struggles with addition, the former star hasn’t quite faced a road to redemption on the field as he does these days with the Los Angeles Angels.
How bad has it gotten? Well, let’s just say that he’s no longer a talking point as the season winds down.
Yes, he’s still carrying a dismal and un-Hamilton like .236/.297/.422 triple slash as the Halos prepare to close out a nightmarish season of disappointments, but at this point, folks have gotten so comfortable with the fact that Hamilton has been the biggest free-agent bust this year that it’s no longer surprising, nor does it really matter what he does from here on end.
That, perhaps, is the biggest insult to injury for the 32-year old’s season.
Signing a nine-figure contract was supposed to come with its share of glory, and Hamilton’s year has been anything but; that said, under-the-radar as he is nowadays, it’s not like he’s stopped trying to fix things. In fact, would it surprise you to know that he’s actually been the team’s second-most valuable position player since the All-Star break?
No, seriously. Given the team’s struggles in the summer, that might not seem like a whole lot, but it’s just what the team’s $133 million man has done.
Is his .263/.329/.441 line through 170 post-break PAs going to turn anyone’s head? Nah. That said, he does have 10 doubles and five homers over that span, trailing just Mike Trout for extra-base hits and fWAR at 0.7 (though that worlds away from Trout’s 3.6).
More importantly, Hamilton is showing some results in his attempts to get rid of the bad habits at the plate that let to his second-half slump last season.
Not only has he cut his strikeout rate down from 25.3 percent in the first half to 24.1, but at a 9.4 percent walk rate, he’s putting up plate discipline closer to what the baseball world saw in the first half of 2012 (10.2 percent) than the continuation of the slump that he started 2013 with (6.9).
These baby steps might not seem like a whole lot, and to be fair, the Angels isn’t paying him to spend the season looking for his form. Yet that’s the card that this team has been dealt, and the fact that Hamilton came all the way back from being a below replacement level player to a 1.2 fWAR season with a month left to play is a minor victory in itself.
He’ll have to do a whole lot more to get people talking again, but you know what they say about rock bottom and being nowhere else to go …