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Thursday, April 19, 2012
How's Josh Hamilton: Playing like an MVP

By Richard Durrett

DETROIT -- Our weekly update on Josh Hamilton comes after the slugger put together an impressive 12-game sample in 2012.

So how good is it? It's MVP good so far. Let's look at the pure numbers:

* Hamilton is batting .440 (22-for-50) with five homers and 12 RBIs. Last season, Hamilton didn't hit his fifth homer until June 17, thanks to his injury in the 11th game of the season in Detroit. The hairline fracture in a bone in his upper arm sidelined him for nearly six weeks. But Hamilton didn't even have a homer in those first games before his injury. That's certainly not the case this season.

* Hamilton's had red-hot months before. He batted .454 with nine homers and 31 RBIs in June of 2010, the year he won the MVP. He hit .418 in July that season, too. Last year, Hamilton's top month was July, when he hit .343 with five homers and 22 RBIs. So far, he's pushing that memorable June month two years ago.

* Hamilton finally drew his first walk Wednesday. Part of the reason for the lack of walks may be how often he's swinging at first pitches (leads the MLB in that category but has also hit the ball well on the first pitch as well). He is 6-for-13 with two homers when he swings at the first pitch.

* The left-handed hitter is bashing left-handed pitching so far this season. He's hitting .467 against them (.429 against righties). He hit .260 against them last season (and .314 against right-handers).

* One way to determine Hamilton's value to the club is what they do when he's not in the lineup. Texas was 18-23 without Hamilton in 2011. ESPN Stats & Information breaks that down:

With Hamilton in lineup in 2011: 78-43, 5.7 runs per game, .291 team average, .486 slugging percentage.

Without Hamilton in lineup in 2011: 18-23, 4.1 runs per game, .255 team average, .380 slugging percentage.