Tuesday, May 08, 2007


There is a great story in baseball right now that isn't getting a lot of coverage. Josh Hamilton is a new outfielder for my Cincinnati Reds. He was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, in the first round. He was projected as a future superstar, what is called a "Five Tools" player:

  1. Hitting for Average
  2. Hitting for Power
  3. Speed and Baserunning
  4. Throwing
  5. Fielding
Unfortunately, there was a setback. He was in a car accident, hurt his back, and essentially got hooked on painkillers, which lead to other drugs. Hamilton played in the minors, and was caught for violations of the drug policy. Specifically, cocaine. He was kicked out of baseball, suspended indefinitely. He was out of baseball for 3 years, working construction. During this time, he cleaned up and got straight.

Then, the suspension was lifted last year. He played a little at the AA level in the Rays system before the suspension, and came back at Single-A, though he was injured at one point. He was acquired by the Cubs in the Rule V Draft, where teams can poach unprotected players from other organizations for very little cost. He was then traded by the Cubs to the Reds for cash. Coming out of spring training, he earned a spot on the roster with the big club as a 4th outfielder. He's gotten a number of pinch hit opportunities, and has started 22 games.

Here's the thing - even with only 293 professional games, and only 50 over Single-A, the kid can flat out rake. OPS is a good shorthand statistic for how valuable a hitter is - on-base percentage + slugging percentage. It is approximately the average number of bases the hitter gains per at-bat. Hamilton is currently 10th in the Majors, trailing only guys like Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez at 1.023. Through hits, walks, hit-by-pitch, etc, he's averaging more than a single per at-bat. It is a great tragedy that someone this good was walking around NOT playing baseball for 3 years.

It's a great story - in his first major league at-bat, I happened to catch the game. He got a 22 second standing ovation. The tv did not cut away to a commercial, like they normally would have. It was fantastic. He has made terrible mistakes, and now that he has his life back on track, I think everyone should be rooting for Josh Hamilton.

(thanks to Chris for corrections and background)


Christopher said...

What are his slugging average and OBP?

Dan said...

His AVG/OBP/SLG is .289/.379/.633 as of today. Very close to the traditional superstar .300/.400/.500 triptych.

Christopher said...

Yeah, I'd hire him.

Christopher said...

Since we're on the triptych, how about these numbers:

Norichika Aoki (Tokyo Swallows):
AVG .367
OBP .464
SLG .590

You saw him play when you visited a while back. He's a fantastic center fielder defensively, and he steals a lot of bases. Oh, and he's currently 6th in the central league home run race despite being a leadoff guy.

I hope that either the Nats or the Reds are saving their money right now (for your benefit, not mine).

Dan said...

I remember Aoki, you said he was a player to watch. I wonder what his converted MLB stats would be like (based on the assumption that Japanese leagues are like "AAAA" level baseball)

Christopher said...

Good question. Maybe your brother knows where to find tables for that?