Can the Texas Rangers Continue Recent Surge With Josh Hamilton’s Addition?


The Texas Rangers will see the return of Josh Hamilton for the first time in today’s game against Cleveland, with the former AL MVP slated to man left field and likely bat fifth in the Ranger lineup. While the return of Hamilton has been long-awaited, and anticipation is running high, Texas has been hot of late winning six of their last seven. What effect will Hamilton’s presence have on the Rangers? Glad you asked.

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The last series loss the Rangers suffered was at the hands of the team they will visit in Cleveland on Monday afternoon. A week and a half ago Texas dropped two of three to Cleveland at home, but that series could have easily been two-one the other way if not for the heroics of Jason Kipnis. With Phil Klein, Wandy Rodriguez and Colby Lewis, the Rangers will be sending three solid starters to the mound in the coming days.

Cleveland will counter with Shaun Marcum (0-0, 2.31 in 11 2/3 IP), Danny Salazar (5-1, 3.50) and Carlos Carrasco (5-4, 4.74). While the Indians have some solid options in their corner as well, the Rangers tagged both Salazar (4.2 IP, 9 hits, 7 runs, 5 earned) and Carrasco (8 IP, 7 hits, 5 earned) in their recent series. The offense is arguably hotter now than it was then, and will have a shiny new toy in Josh Hamilton to show off, so the Rangers have a good chance of at least a series win if their starting pitching holds.

As for Hamilton, he has performed well in his rehab stint between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, totaling a .364 batting average (16-for-46) with a homer, five doubles and six batted in. That’s the good news. If we’re going to nitpick, it will be because those stats were padded in Frisco, where according to Baseball Reference, Hamilton was 9.6 years older than the average player. With Frisco he hit .563 with two doubles, four driven in and hit his home run.

If we’re taking the optimistic route it will be that Hamilton, while only batting .250 with Round Rock, was able to find the gaps more often than in Double-A, collecting three doubles with the Express. Yes this is thin, but considering his recent past both in terms of production with the Angels and the off-season he’s been through, it’s a decent start.

If I had to guess, I’d say that Hamilton will have a quiet series against Cleveland with Delino DeShields getting the start in left field in either game two or three. When the Rangers return home to Arlington to face-off against the Red Sox and their largely “meh” pitching staff (4.57 ERA, 28th in MLB) Hamiton will see some hits start falling for him in front of the home crowd. Since I’m in a prediction mood, I’ll say his first homer in his return to the Texas Rangers will come on June 2nd off of Jeff Samardzija, who has allowed seven long balls on the season.

With the addition of Hamilton likely breaking up the streaking duo of DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo, someone else in the lineup will have to pick up the slack. Jeff Bannister should be very careful in picking who will take up the first two spots in the Ranger lineup, because it mean the difference between the team continuing their recent success, or derailing the offense entirely.

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