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Leaving aside Josh Hamilton's embarrassing performance in the last game of the season, were his impressive numbers in 2012 less than they seem?
Wednesday wasn't Josh Hamilton's all-time bestest day ever. First, there was this:
Well, that was embarrassing. He also struck out a couple of times, and, by failing to hit a couple of home runs, probably handed the Most Valuable Player Award to Miguel Cabrera.*
* Maybe intentionally. Josh Hamilton's whole future might hinge on Cabrera's MVP fortunes.
Whilst all this was happening -- whilst Hamilton was struggling and the Rangers were getting blown out in a championship game, things like this were happening on Twitter:
There has never been a worse 43-homer, 128-RBI season in MLB history.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) October 3, 2012
With just a moment of research, I can say this is absolutely true. Hamilton's 2012 definitely was the worst 43-homer, 128-RBI season in major-league history.
It's the only 43-homer, 128-RBI season in major-league history.
A more interesting question, though, is where Hamilton's season ranks among similar seasons. Here are all the seasons including 40-45 homers and 125-130 RBI, ranked by Wins Above Replacement (Baseball-Reference.com's version) ...
Actually, I'm not going to list all of them, because there are too many; I hate tables on web pages that go on forever. There have been 28 of those seasons, and you know what? Hamilton's is really far down the list!
Here are the top five:
1. Babe Ruth (9.4)
2. Duke Snider (9.1)
3. Hank Aaron (8.8)
4. Jimmie Foxx (8.6)
5. Johnny Bench (8.5)
Hall of Famers, all of them.
... and the bottom five:
Now, you might think that Hamilton can't possibly have been just (approximately) three wins above replacement this season. With those stats? But whether Tim MacMahon knows it or not, there are a couple of things that hurt Hamilton's WAR: his fielding doesn't grade out well, and his home ballpark has been incredibly friendly to hitters.
The worst ever? I wouldn't go quite that far. I think you have to take Josh Hamilton over Richie Sexson or Dante Bichette every time. But yes, Hamilton wasn't as good this season as his Triple Crown stats might suggest.