Monday, June 28, 2010
Hamilton’s on firePosted by Ricky Zanker
If you want a list of hottest hitters in the Majors right now, Josh Hamilton should be number one on the list. And I'm not saying that because he has a 21 game hitting streak. If I was, I would have said he is tied for first with Jose Guillen (of all players) for hottest hitter since he is also having a 21 game hit streak. But Hamilton is clearly having the greater streak sporting an OPS of 1.412 with 9 home runs compared to Guillen's .863 OPS and only one home run. During that time span, Hamilton is hitting a slash line of .477/.505/.907 with 9 home runs and leads the Majors in all of those categories for that same time span while also hitting the longest home run of the 2010 season on Sunday, according to Hit Tracker Online.
His recent offensive surge has lifted his season slash line from .291/.341/.500 to .346/.389/.620. So Hamilton was hitting quite well before his streak, but he is just now going beserk with the bat. Looking at some other stats, Hamilton is now third in the Majors in wOBA at .435 and second in BABIP, which stands at .393 behind Austin Jackson who is still posting above the four hundred mark. And looking at WAR, he is now fourth in the Majors out of position players with a 3.7 thanks to his excellent offensive performance (duh). He is now only .1 wins behind his career high WAR of 3.8 in 2008, which may have been higher if not for his terrible UZR numbers that season.
As a career hitter in the Majors, Hamilton has a high career BABIP average, low career infield fly ball percentage, a consistent line drive rate of around 21%, and high run values against the fastball. To me, these are good numbers showing his ability to physically hit the baseball. Getting hits on balls in play, avoiding easy outs in pop outs, squaring the ball consistently, and hitting the pitch that is the easiest to hit. Not to mention the power, which was showcased worldwide at the 2008 All-Star Home Run derby. Hamilton is not necessarily a good overall hitter. His walk rates are low while his O-Swing is above 30%, but he is definitely a hitter in literal terms. In a nutshell, he hits the baseball and he hits it well.
Thanks to Baseball Musings and Fan Graphs for the data.
Ricky Zanker also writes for Draysbay and can be contacted by email.