Josh Hamilton has everyone's attention
May, 12, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's just too risky to miss one of Josh Hamilton's at-bats right now. The Texas Rangers slugger is capable of doing things rarely done in this game every time he steps to home plate. Why wouldn't you watch every swing?
"It's a show getting to come watch him every day," first baseman Mitch Moreland said.
For the first time since his historic four-homer game in Baltimore on Tuesday, the hometown fans got a chance to see the show for themselves. And Hamilton gave them a taste of what his week has been like in the Rangers' 10-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Hamilton belted two more home runs -- one of the high-arching variety and the other a line-drive shot -- to give him 17 on the season. He's just the third player since 1918 (according to baseball-reference.com) to hit 17 homers in his club's first 33 games of the season. And remember: Hamilton missed three games in Toronto with a stiff back. He has hit the 17 homers in just 30 games.
Jim Cowsert/US PresswireJosh Hamilton has hit 17 home runs in just 30 games played this season.
But he has hit eight of those homers in his last 18 at-bats (five games) in a remarkable display of power. The only thing that has slowed him this week is Mother Nature, though the rain hasn't dampened his hot bat. Of course, opposing managers may try to slow him by walking him more. But that comes with a big risk too, as you face the power of Adrian Beltre, not to mention the rest of a deep lineup after that.
"He's the most gifted player in the game," teammate Michael Young said. "He's capable of doing things like this. So obviously, we want it to last as long as possible."
With every at-bat, Hamilton's stock is soaring as he competes in the final year of his contract. It's a reminder of what he can do when he's healthy and feeling good at the plate.
Hamilton, who briefly answered a question or two before heading home to get some rest before an early game Saturday, said he felt good and was touched by the standing ovation he received. The Rangers played a video montage of Hamilton's four-homer game from Tuesday and showed him on the videoboard. The crowd of 48,201 stood and cheered and Hamilton tipped his glove.
"That was cool," Hamilton said. "You don't know what to do in that instance because it's in the middle of the game. But I appreciate the fans."
Hamilton's week has impressed his teammates, though many of them have repeatedly said he has the ability to do things that most people in the game can't.
"He's as locked in as I've ever seen him," Moreland said. "He's done some pretty unbelievable stuff on the field and it just continues. Hopefully, he can keep it going. It's good to have that guy in the middle of your lineup."
Moreland hit a home run to right field as well. So was he trying to match Hamilton?
"I've got about 10 more to hit in the next two games to match him," Moreland said, laughing.
Hamilton is the first player to hit seven home runs over a four-game stretch since the Dodgers' Hee Seop Choi (June 10-14, 2005). He has 40 RBIs through his club's first 33 games, second in club history to Juan Gonzalez's 42 in 1998. Just a reminder: Gonzalez had a crazy 157 RBIs in 154 games that season in winning his second AL MVP award.
Sound familiar? Hamilton would win the Triple Crown if the season ended today. He leads the American League in batting average (.407), homers (17) and RBIs (40). And, not surprisingly, he's tops in the intentional walk category at five.
He's putting up the kind of numbers needed to win his second AL MVP award. In the process, he's got everyone's attention when he steps to the plate. He's must-see TV. Don't miss it.