Saturday, September 8, 2007

Marvelling over Josh Hamilton


What Josh Hamilton has accomplished this season is truly, truly astonishing. Given that he used his new found faith to concur his demons, Hamilton might paint his unlikely coming as a miracle. Maybe it is, but it seems to be more of a testament to his massive talent and unrelenting determination to overcome his drug addiction.

Just to provide a bit of perspective, it's worth the time to recap Hamilton's saga.


AMATEUR CAREER, DRAFT HISTORY, AND MINOR LEAGUE JOURNEY

Hamilton attended Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. He played outfield and pitched on the high school baseball team, where scouts consistently clocked his fastball at 95 mph.

He was drafted #1 overall in the 1999 draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and labeled the can't miss prospect whose makeup was as impressive as his skillset. Hamilton had the projectible body type (6'4 with size 19 shoes) that scouts love and was considered a five tool talent coming out of high school. The Devil Rays gave him a $4M signing bonus and assigned him to the rookie league Princeton Devil Rays. (Hamilton's Minor League Stats)

In 2001, Hamilton was involved in a car accident, which cut short his season. In 2002, Hamilton was unable to play due to lingering back and shoulder injuries and began using recreational drugs during his time away from the team. On July 15, 2002, Hamilton was suspended for violating MLB's substance abuse policy. He wouldn't be reinstated by MLB until June1, 2006. Between July 15, 2002 and June 1, 2006, Hamilton admitted to being in drug rehab 8 different times and attempted suicide 3 different times. On October 6, 2005, Hamilton finally stopped using drugs.

Hamilton was selected in the 2006 MLB Rule V draft by the Cubs, who then immediately traded him to the Reds to complete a prearranged trade. Hamilton has been nothing short of amazing for the Reds, despite his years largely away from baseball and never ending battle to maintain his sobriety.


RECOMMENDED READING

Here is a great article by Joe Posnanski, one of the best baseball writers in the country, about Josh Hamilton.

And, here's an ESPN the Magazine article written by Hamilton about his struggles and redemption.


2007 ACTUAL PERFORMANCE

Just how good has Hamilton been this year? Well, on the season for the Reds, Hamilton has posted a line of the following in 329 Plate Appearances:

BA/OBP/SLG/OPS: .297/.374/.566/.940

R/HRs/RBI: 51/19/47

1b/2b/3b: 48/17/2

BB/SO: 33/63

SB/CS: 3/3

Those numbers are impressive enough on their own, but if you project that level of production out over a full season of playing time, then it really comes into focus just how good his season has been.


PROJECTED PRODUCTION OVER A FULL SEASON

If you extrapolate out Hamilton's 2007 level of production over a full season of plate appearances (650), then Hamilton would have the following production:

BA/OBP/SLG/OPS: .297/.374/.566/.940

R/HRs/RBI: 101/38/93

1b/2b/3b: 95/34/4

BB/SO: 65/124

SB/CS: 6/6


THE FUTURE

If the Hamilton can stay healthy in 2008, which is questionable given the abuse he has done to his body, then the Reds have an MVP caliber player on their hands. The Reds basically acquired an MVP caliber talent for nothing, which ranks as one of Krivsky's (or anyone else's, for that matter) best acquisitions.

In the near future, Hamilton and uber-prospect Jay Bruce, who was recently named the Minor League Player of the Year for 2007, should form a dynamic outfield duo for years to come.

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