It's a tale of two different spots in the order that are actually right next to each other. I'm speaking, of course, about Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre, the number three and four hitters in the Texas Rangers lineup. Beltre has seen his numbers rise lately while Hamilton is in a free-swinging decline. Over the past seven games (with a minimum 20 at-bats) Beltre leads the team with a .407/.469/.481 line while Hamilton is worst with a line of .222/.364/.444. A closer look, however, and you'll see that Josh has more home runs in that period (2 to 0) and more RBI (5 to 4). Of course I could nitpick and point out that Hamilton has struck out 12 times. Beltre? Only three times. And Hamilton leads Beltre, and all of baseball, in number of bat tosses.
Okay so seven games is a small sample size. So let's look at the last thirty games. This time I only looked at players with at least ninety plate appearances. Once again Beltre leads the Rangers with a .337/.388/.481 line and Josh is dead last with a .211/.311/.440 line. They both have three home runs in that time frame and Hamilton has 34 strikeouts to Beltre's 19.
The big question is what do you do with Josh? Pitchers obviously have him figured out. He started the season off hot due to the fact that he swung at everything and pitchers were throwing him strikes over the plate. He's still swing at everything and teams are using that to their advantage as they are starting to throw pitches away from him and he swings like crazy. Now to suggest that he be moved down in the lineup is a ridiculous notion as he still offers protection for Beltre and Elvis Andrus who hits before him and conventional wisdom says Josh will break out of this slump.
Some people have suggested firing hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and bringing back Rudy Jaramillo. That makes no sense when you consider that Texas, as a team, leads the majors in batting average (.284), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging percentage (.460). They are also tenth best in strikeouts (552) though tenth worst in walks (246). I really can't find anything to warrant Coolbaugh's dismissal.
Josh Hamilton is a very talented hitter. Even he knows that something has to change and it all starts with him and his approach. Time off won't help. Moving him down in the lineup won't help. Changing hitting coaches will do more harm for the overall team. Just give him time and now that while he may have some recently uninspired looking at-bats he is still feared by almost every pitcher in the game.
The fact of the matter here is that both Hamilton and Beltre are going to represent the Rangers in the All-Star game on July 10th and right now only Beltre is playing like someone who deserves the honor. It's just a matter of time before Josh comes around. I just hope it happens soon.
Until next time I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com, clawandantlernation.com and a member of SABR. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.
- Sports & Recreation
- Josh Hamilton
- Adrian Beltre