Patience paying off for Josh Hamilton
August, 13, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was Josh Hamilton's third at-bat -- his worst one on a day when he hit his 32nd home run to tie a career-high in a season, had a single and totaled three RBIs to re-take the MLB lead -- that stuck with him even after the game. In that at-bat in the fifth, Hamilton had a 3-1 count and struck out swinging on two fastballs.
The good part of the at-bat was that Hamilton got in a nice hitter's count. The bad part? He swung at two fastballs that were not in the strike zone.
"I’m just making my mind up that I’m going to try to focus better on taking more pitches and getting in better hitter’s counts," Hamilton said. "You see the difference. My third at-bat, I struck out. He didn’t throw me a strike. I asked the umpire, ‘Did he throw any strikes?’ He said, ‘No.’ That was the difference, being patient and getting in good hitter’s counts and knowing that if they’re pitching it there, you can hit it instead of trying to make something happen. Just take your base and score runs."
After an awful June and July, Hamilton has rebounded so far in August. He's got a 10-game hitting streak and is 15-for-42 (.357) with three homers and 15 RBIs in that span. He had just 11 RBIs in all of July.
Hamilton is seeing more pitches and showing more discipline. As a result, he's getting more pitches to hit.
"It’s impossible to step in that box and see as many pitches as these guys see and not chase," manager Ron Washington said. "You just have to minimize your chases and how far you chase them. He quit chasing them a mile out of the strike zone and is just chasing them a half a mile."
Washington tried a few things to get Hamilton going and it appears they worked. He gave him a day off on July 28 and then moved him down to the fifth spot in the order for a few days to take the pressure off. Washington said once Hamilton looked like he was "zeroing in on the strike zone" he moved him back to the 3-hole.
Since that day off, Hamilton is hitting .333 with four homers and 16 RBIs. He has six walks and 11 strikeouts in that span of 14 games. The Rangers are 9-5 since then and have hit the ball better as a team.
"You just get to feeling good and that’s the one thing you fight no matter how long you play," Hamilton said. "You feel good, you feel like you can do a little extra and more times than not it gets you in trouble or there’s a bad outcome or bad result from it.
"When you’re patient, you’re in a better position to see the ball and you’re going to have a better swing path that stays in the zone better. It’s all common sense. Overthinking things gets you in trouble."
And there you have it. He's feeling good as he heads to Yankee Stadium. Hamilton usually plays well in the bright lights of New York. Stay tuned.