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The Hamilton Effect: Will the Angels Miss Him?

Now that he's back in uniform with the Rangers--and coming out swinging--are the Angels going to feel the effects of voraciously ridding themselves of Josh Hamilton? Or is his early success merely a phase, and is the typical Hamiltonian burnout inevitable to follow soon?

Kirk Nieuwenhuis--also known as "He Who Cannot Be Spelled"--has been one of six men the Angels have used in left field this season.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis--also known as "He Who Cannot Be Spelled"--has been one of six men the Angels have used in left field this season.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Already, pundits are connecting the dots.

After Josh Hamilton's two-homer performance Friday night, FOX Sports writer (and notoriously anti-Angels hack) Jon Morosi was quick to point out that, since the season has begun, the Angels' left fielders (a carousel of Matt Joyce, Efren Navarro, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Marc Krauss, Alfredo Marte and Collin Cowgill) have just three home runs over the span of the season's first 49 games, while Josh Hamilton, now a Texas Ranger once again, has two already in his first five games. While I personally dislike Morosi's constantly...well, morose outlook on the Angels, I must admit this: like a broken clock is right even twice a day, so Morosi makes a decent point.

Small sample size beware, but in Josh Hamilton's 5 games (20 plate appearances), he's already put up a slash of .278/.350/.667. Now, let's remember back to January when Hamilton said he felt a good season coming on--to the tune of 30 home runs, 100 RBI and a .300 average.

Let's look at it like this. Let's take the average ten-game stretch that Josh Hamilton had as an Angel, which looks like...

.263/.310/.395, 42 PA, 38 AB, 5 R, 10 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 11 K, 0 HBP, 1 SF

...and add that to his current Rangers totals, to assume the totals of his first 15 games. Combining those two, you get...

.268/.323/.482, 62 PA, 56 AB, 9 R, 15 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 BB, 16 K, 0 HBP, 1 SF

Not terrible, but not great. And even yet, out of the above statistics listed, Hamilton would still outpace Angels left fielders in all three slash categories (the Angels' current left field carousel has amounted to .187/.258/.301), and match them in home runs.

Now, let's complete this horror story. Let's assume that, after the first 15 games, Josh shakes out of his funk and returns to his Ranger glory for his next 100 games (for argument's sake, assuming he plays 115 games exactly this season). His average 100-game stretch as a Ranger looked like so...

.305/.363/.551, 435 PA, 390 AB, 65 R, 119 H, 24 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 78 RBI, 36 BB, 86 K, 3 HBP, 6 SF

Combining THESE above numbers with his hypothetical first 15 games, we'll have this possibly-make-believe season for Josh Hamilton in 2015:

.300/.358/.543, 497 PA, 446 AB, 74 R, 134 H, 27 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 86 RBI, 41 BB, 102 K, 3 HBP, 7 SF

Limited gameplay after missing the first eight weeks of the season would keep him from the 30 homers and 100 RBI, but he'd be dead-on about the .300 average. (Also, just for a little more salt in the wound, projecting these stats over a full 162, Hamilton would've reached 35 home runs and 121 RBI, as well as retained his .300 average, thereby taking him from predictor to prophet.)

Now, one more line of numbers before the wall of text: Below are the same statistics as Josh Hamilton's assumed 2015 season, only these ones belong to the Angels' left fielders across Hamilton's same 497 plate appearances in 2015:

.188/.261/.299, 497 PA, 451 AB, 27 R, 85 H, 22 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 38 BB, 109 K, 6 HBP, 0 SF

By these standards, the Angels' current left field troupe is set to have 174% fewer runs scored, 58% fewer hits and 72% fewer extra-base hits than Josh Hamilton, while walking and striking out at relatively similar rates and getting hit by twice as many pitches (maybe the only beacon of hope here).

Something absolutely has to change.

Now, in his defense, Matt Joyce (recipient of about 74% of the playing time in left field) has definitely been heating up as of late; his last 14 days have seen him post a slash of .286/.432/.543, with 5 extra-base hits, 7 walks and 4 runs scored. If this is a sign of things to come, and not just a streak, then the Angels may possibly be okay in left field (note, I said OKAY, not perfect or even great). Just to throw one more set of numbers out there, if Matt Joyce plays 100 more games this season at his current pace (the last two weeks given), his overall season stats will look as follows:

.252/.380/.469, 519 PA, 429 AB, 40 R, 108 H, 33 2B, 0 3B, 20 HR, 66 RBI, 70 BB, 82 K, 19 HBP, 1 SF

Now, while I don't see Matt Joyce taking 19 beanballs this season, I must admit that the other numbers seem plausible, even likely for him. While his batting average may certainly not resemble the Hamiltonian glory days above, his OPS of .849 would be more than respectable, especially given that we're only on the hook for one year of Joyce.

So are the Angels going to feel the Hamilton effect? I say yes, but I also say that more muted than originally implied. I honestly do not think Josh Hamilton will go full Ranger like yesteryear, nor do I think that Matt Joyce will be dead weight for the rest of the season. The pundits like Morosi can say what they wish, but I think that maybe, per chance, the Angels may wind up in decent shape in left field the remainder of 2015. Will they trade for a left field upgrade, be he a rental or a long-term fix? Maybe. And if they do, I wholeheartedly encourage it.

But if they don't, I'm not hitting the panic button.