Entering his second season with the Los Angeles Angels, Josh Hamilton appeared to be poised for a very productive year that was similar to his 2010 AL MVP campaign, and one that was worth lucrative contract with the Halos; but so far this year, his overall performance has been nowhere near that.
The 33-year-old had everything heading in the right direction and was even off to a impressive start to the 2014. He was batting a then league-leading .444 with two home runs and six RBIs through the first eight games of the year. However, his promising fast start to the season was quickly halted after he suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb on April 8 against the Seattle Mariners after sliding head-first into first base.
Hamilton was able to return to the team on June 3 against the Houston Astros, when he hit his first and only home run in the 24 games he has played this month. His production has not matched what was expected out of him when healthy as he is batting .268 with one home run, 13 RBIs and 33 strikeouts in June.
Although the thumb injury did set him back for the majority of the first half of the season, it has been his utter lack of power that is a bit concerning. Could it be linked to his thumb possibly not being at full strength at this point in time? Possibly. Could it be that he is pressing a bit to produce? Also likely. Could it be a lack of confidence in his ability at the plate? Maybe.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that Hamilton has not been the player who the Angels need. He is expected to be the X-factor outside of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and when the other two are struggling offensively, he must step up in their place.
This is not asking Hamilton to carry the load offensive and be the main force in the lineup, but rather just be one of the significant contributors to the team that he is capable of being. As his video game-like 43-homer season illustrated (before he bottomed out toward the end, anyway), Hamilton has the ability to perform at a high level and can be productive player for the Angels, but it is all going to start with launching balls out of the park.
Simply put, one home run per 41.3 at-bats isn’t cutting it. In his seven years in the majors up to this point, he has been known as a bit of a streaky hitter, and what better way to get the ball rolling than hitting home runs. It does not necessarily mean he has to swing for the fences, but the confidence that comes from hitting the ball with authority could be the lift he needs at the plate.
He can use that momentum as a springboard to drive in more runs and not only help the Halos remain in the thick of the playoff race, but realistic giving the team shot at winning the AL West over the two-time defending champion Oakland Athletics. Hamilton must first improve his overall production, because once he does, the Angels’ offense will certainly be something that the rest of the league will become fearful of facing.