Well, well, well..what do we have here? Josh Hamilton…is that you?
Indeed it is. You know Josh Hamilton. “Baseball Town” Josh Hamilton. “I can’t hit in day games because my eyes are blue”Josh Hamilton. (yes, I’m still bitter)
But for all of my ammo against Hamilton, there is one thing I have never denied. And that is: Josh Hamilton is good at baseball. They don’t call the guy “The Natural” for nothing. And today, every version of Josh Hamilton is set to make his Cactus League debut for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (can they just pick a city already?).
Hamilton strained his calf late in February taking a lead off of first base (no, I’m not kidding). He has yet to play in a spring game but is set to do so today, with plans to be ready by opening day.
Hamilton has said that he’ll get “plenty” of at-bats in spring playing the last couple of weeks. His manager, Mike Scioscia, agrees saying that, typically, players only need “40-60 at bats” in any given spring to be ready.
The good news for Rangers fans is that Hamilton got exactly that last spring: 60 at bats, and we all know where that got him; a BA of .250 and only 79 RBI (and that’s an “only” by Josh Hamilton standards).
So what can a healthy or unhealthy Josh Hamilton mean to the Angels? Well, as Rangers fans, I think we all know what a healthy Hamilton can accomplish; his 2010 AL MVP campaign wasn’t that long ago, after all. That year he hit .359. THREE FIFTY NINE. Add in 32 HRs and 100 RBI and you have yourselves the best player in baseball that year.
Unfortunately, we have also seen that an unhealthy Josh Hamilton tends to stay unhealthy or re-injure himself. That most certainly spells lesser production.
And while, we never want injuries for any players, opposing or not, we certainly can root for Hamilton to be not-so-productive. An MVP repeat isn’t expected, but if it happened, I don’t know that any of us would be completely surprised. The lack of production from the Angels big name players (including Albert Pujols, who hit just .258) in the 2013 season was shocking. And, of course, welcome from the Rangers fan perspective. But, we definitely shouldn’t expect that sub-par production again from a team that includes Hamilton, Pujols, and Mike Trout.
So let’s keep an eye on that 3PM Angels/Cubs game. I’m sure it will take some time for Hamilton to get his timing down at the plate. Here’s to hoping “some time” is six months.
13 days until Rangers Opening Day. Get excited!