So the headline may be a reach. At least, I hope.
This is a very scary thing to think about. I particularly remember back in spring training, Mike Scioscia was interviewed about trying to tame Josh Hamilton's free-swinging ways of the season prior, in which he fanned a career-high 162 times. His response? "You wouldn't tell Babe Ruth how to do his job, would you?"
Maybe someone should've pulled Sosh aside, or at least forced Hamilton to take those "take" signs more seriously. Because as it stands a quarter of the way through this season, Josh Hamilton is looking like one of the largest wastes of $133 million ever.
It's no secret, the horrific start Hamilton's off to. Optimists will say that he's starting to shake it off; over the past week, Hamilton sports a .273/.333/.682 line with six hits, two of them home runs. Pessimists will point out that his overall numbers are still atrocious; a .214/.266/.364 line with 44 strikeouts already, and 122 games to go.
Really, there's only one way to look at this.
Before the season, I had official projections I'd estimated for each player projected to be on the Angels roster. Hamilton's projections were something moderately handsome: a slash line of .296/.361/.515, 89 R, 174 H, 36 2B, 3 3B, 29 HR, 102 RBI, 59 BB, 126 K, 4 HBP, 11 GIDP and 6 SF (just to keep it to stats that directly impact his slash line). It's not that Hamilton can't reach that now; Pujols started almost as bad last season and still ended up hitting .285 with 30 bombs and 105 RBI. But for Hamilton to reach those numbers, here's what he would have to do in the 104 games I have projected for him still to play:
434 AB, 74 R, 141 H, 30 2B, 2 3B, 24 HR, 90 RBI, 50 BB, 82 K, 1 HBP, 8 GIDP, 3 SF, .325/.393/.569
Basically? He has to be Mike Trout for the next 104 games he plays in order to just reach what I projected he'd do--let alone what his career averages are, or even more, what he ought to be playing like for a $133 million contract. (By comparison, the slash line Hamilton would have to post would literally be 99.7% of Mike Trout's 2012 slash line, so yes, I made that comparison literally).
Of course, knowing that it's improbable that Hamilton does that over his next 104 games, let's take a look at the real horror here: what he's on pace to do this season.
Again using my initial projections as a baseline, I took Hamilton's current stats and extracted them from my projected totals. Then, I paced out how his season will look over the next 104 games if he continues his actual path (as opposed to how he'd do if he was on my projected path) and averaged the two together. What I got is truly ridiculous--half the stats he'd post are literally worse than Vernon Wells' 2011 season.
Across 143 total games this season, Josh Hamilton's 2013 season would look like THIS:
611 AB, 69 R, 139 H, 25 2B, 5 3B, 21 HR, 64 RBI, 7 SB, 1 CS, 42 BB, 165 K, 11 HBP, 14 GIDP, 11 SF, .227/.284/.388
Really, it's sickening. He's better than this--MUCH, MUCH better than this. I don't know whether it's Scioscia and our coaches not giving him the right tips and advice, or if it's the pressure of his contract, or the different environment, or some new health complication, or WHAT. All I know is it's sad. Very sad. Like, literally, makes my heart ache for him.
He's a better ballplayer than this...but is he going to start playing like it?