Hamilton no longer hitting hard
August, 30, 2013
By Mark Simon | ESPN.com
Brandon Wade/Getty ImagesJosh Hamilton has not played up to his $125 million contract this season.Josh Hamilton signed with the Los Angeles Angels after five seasons with the Texas Rangers. With Texas, Hamilton won an MVP award, reached the World Series twice, and reached 30 home runs and 100 RBIs three times (including a career-high 43 homers last season).
His performance in 2013 has not been up to the standards he set in Texas. Without oversimplifying it, much of his struggles have derived from Hamilton not hitting the ball as hard as he has in previous seasons.
The ball is not jumping off Hamilton’s bat the same way this season. According to Sportvision/BAM, the average speed of the ball off Hamilton’s bat this season is 80.6 mph, down from 83 mph in 2010, when he won the AL MVP award.
Coinciding with that, Hamilton’s average home run is 12 feet shorter than last season (416 in 2012, 404 in 2013). The average distance of his balls hit in the air (fly balls and line drives) is down 16 feet from last season as well.
Inside Edge’s video scouts elaborate on this idea, as they tell us that 22 percent of the pitches Hamilton has hit this season are classified as “hard-hit,” down from an average of 33 percent over the past three seasons.
The Angels slugger’s struggles are magnified when facing lefties this season. Over his last three seasons in Texas, Hamilton averaged about 45 hits and 45 strikeouts off lefties per season. This season, Hamilton already has 47 strikeouts against lefties with only 24 hits.
Remarkably, Hamilton’s batting average is down at least 39 points in every quadrant of the strike zone this season compared to last season. The drop in averages is not for lack of contact, as Hamilton is swinging and missing at a lower rate than he did last season (31 percent this season, 36 percent in 2012).
Hamilton routinely crushed fastballs last season, hitting .310 and slugging .599 off them. This season, his batting average against fastballs is down 60 points and his slugging percentage has fallen by 117 points.