Another season, another big money Angel free agent slugger struggling in April. As we all know far too well by now, Josh Hamilton has been flat out terrible for the Halos. His numbers really can't get much worse, nor can his overall dilemma given that his problems are much more difficult to figure out than one might think.
The easy answer is that his plate discipline and contact ability have gone to crap. That is true, sort of. His plate discipline and contact rates have always been pretty ugly, but it has always worked for him, at least until he had a prolonged slump late last season and then again to start his Angel career. Given how bad he has been this year, one would expect his numbers at the plate to be much worse than normal. But they aren't, and so begins are quest to figure out what the hell is going on with Hamilton.
The discipline and contact issues are bound to be a factor, but they are actually somewhat improved over 2012. His overall swing rate has decreased by over a full percentage point from 2012, but it is almost one percentage point above his 2011 swing rate. He is also making a lot more contact than in 2012, up to 71.3% from 64.7% in 2012. That is actually pretty encouraging, but his current rate is still the second-worst rate of his career, so it isn't all good news.
Now here is where it gets very confusing: Hamilton is currently posting a career-best by a substantial margin of 3.99 pitches per plate appearance. That stat nearly blew my mind, though it is somewhat explained away that Hamilton has been striking out at a 28.4% rate, which is a ridiculous rate. Turns out that you need to see at least three pitches to strikeout. Who knew? But at the same time, Hamilton's 6.2% walk rate isn't too far below his career average, so it isn't as if he is completely falling apart at the plate.no comments