Welcome Back, Josh Hamilton

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IJuly 8, 2009

DETROIT - APRIL 10:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers talks with a bat boy about his bat in the dugout while playing the Detroit Tigers during Opening Day on April 10, 2009 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Guess who’s back, back again, Hambone’s back, tell a friend.

Sorry, I started singing that Monday night when Josh returned to the lineup, so I had to use it.

Now with that fun out of the way, let the real fun begin.  You heard it right, Josh Hamilton is back from his surgery, he is back from being on the disabled list for the second time this year, and hopefully the Hamilton from last year is back.

And say what you want about him starting in the All-Star game, he got voted in according to the rules laid out and he is going to play. The argument why he shouldn’t is another article for another day.

I know it has been only two games, but the early returns lean toward Hamilton not only looking healthy, but looking like his old self. 

Hamilton returned to the lineup on Monday for the first time since May 31 against the Oakland A’s.  He went 2-4 hitting in each of his first two at-bats.  In his first at-bat, Hamilton smashed a single off of Jered Weaver right back up the middle.

Hank Blalock batted next and singled up the middle as well, scoring Michael Young.  Hamilton took off running and headed for third base, forcing center fielder Torii Hunter to make the throw. 

Hunter’s throw one-hopped third baseman Chone Figgins and skipped right past him.  Hamilton got up and ran home without a throw.

This turned a simple RBI single into a 2-0 Ranger lead in the top of the first inning.

In his second at-bat, he slapped a double down the right-field line, but would be stranded on the base path.

On the down side of his return, Hamilton would strike out in his final two at-bats.

On Tuesday, Hamilton picked right back up where he left off.  He would not record any extra base hits, but did notch singles in each of his first three at-bats and stole his fourth base of the season.

He would also ground out to first and draw an intentional walk.

So through his first two games back, Hamilton is batting .625 (5-for-8), slugging .750, he scored twice and stole a base.

In the two games, Hamilton has raised his batting average on the year from .240 to .263.  He is also batting .833 (5-for-6) when putting the ball in play since returning.

Okay, I know that this is a small sample, and we have to see how he is doing in the long run to see if he is fully recovered.  However, I would much rather be giving you these positive stats as opposed to bringing you a hitless slump or 3-4 strikeouts.

The matter of the fact is that the Rangers need Hamilton in the lineup.  Texas is one game under .500 with him out of the lineup, and 11 games over .500 when he is in the lineup.

I know he has been struggling, but we are a better team with him, no matter if his average has been down in the .240s. 

Just having his presence in the lineup picks up the other players, it forces other teams to adjust their defense, and makes pitchers re-think their game plans.  That’s what players like Hamilton bring to the lineup.

So we don’t know for certain yet if he is 100 percent back, healthy, and the 2008 Hamilton version, but I like what I see so far.