In last week’s edition of Sports Illustrated, Josh Hamilton was on the colder side of a section labeled “Who’s Hot, Who’s Not.”
In the magazine's defense, up to that point, Josh was not having the season he had hoped for during spring training.
Hamilton has struggled at the plate in 2009, and has spent two stints on the disabled list while dealing with some off the field issues.
In the months of March and April, he batted .242 in 18 games, notching 16 hits, eight runs, three extra-base hits, 10 RBI, three walks, and 15 strikeouts.
In May, he improved his power numbers to eight extra-base hits, 14 RBI, 12 runs, and doubled his walks. However, his average went down five points to .237, hits went down to 14, and strikeouts to 16 in only 17 games.
Josh was placed on the DL for part of May and all of June.
He returned to the lineup and the third batting spot in July.
However, things only got worse.
In 20 games he batted .205, with 16 hits, only six runs, three extra-base hits, five RBI, four walks, and 22 strikeouts.
At the end of July, Rangers manager Ron Washington dropped Hamilton from the third spot in the lineup to the seventh. This was done to reduce the amount of pressure on Josh so that he could work out the kinks in his swing and re-discover what he did during the first part of 2008.
Since dropping to the seventh spot, he has improved all of his numbers over a short span. He has risen from seventh to sixth to fifth, and last night he batted third in the lineup again.
So far in the month of August, he has played in 16 games. His batting average is currently .407, with 24 hits, nine runs, seven doubles, 11 RBI, eight walks, and only eight strikeouts.
To break that down even more, since last Monday, when Sports Illustrated ran the piece about his struggles at the plate, he has played in seven games.
In those seven games Josh is batting .517 (15-29), with five doubles, seven RBI, five runs, three walks, and seven two-out RBI. Josh even had a stretch earlier in the week in which he got 10 hits in 11 at-bats.
Though the home run power has not returned yet, Rangers fans are not and should not complain. Josh is hitting the ball hard, he is hitting the ball to the opposite field, he is drawing more walks, he is striking out less, and he looks comfortable at the plate now.
This is very important for the Wild Card leading Texas Rangers, a team being led by their pitching and defense. The Rangers have always been an organization that lives and dies by the long ball.
This year is much different. The offense is down this season.
It's true that the team is still second in home runs and third in steals in the American League. But the batting average numbers are down, the walks are down, and the strikeouts are up.
The Rangers need other hitters (Ian Kinsler, Hank Blalock, Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz) that have struggled or been injured as of late to mimic Hamilton's recent return to form.
If that happens, and this team begins to hit to their potential, than this team could not only hold their lead in the Wild Card, but they also could contend for the AL West title, and make some noise when we get to October.