Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
Josh Hamilton is really, really, really good at playing baseball this month.
If Hamilton keeps up his current pace -- which, of course, is nearly impossible -- or even something close to it, he'll be in line for an enormous payday as he enters free agency this fall.
Hamilton hit two more home runs in Friday night's rain-delayed 10-3 Rangers win over the Angels. That gave him, at the time he hit the second of those homers in the fourth inning, eight home runs in his previous 17 at-bats.
Read that again. Not eight homers in 17 games, which would be impressive enough. Eight homers in 17 at-bats, a home run in nearly half of his trips to the plate over five games. In those five games, Hamilton is 11-for-21 (.524) with a double, the eight homers, four walks (including an intentional pass to load the bases in the sixth inning with another power hitter, Adrian Beltre, due up; Beltre flew out to end the inning) and 14 RBI. All of this has resulted in a line of .524/.600/1.714, a 2.314 OPS, in those five games.
But wait! There's more! Hamilton's 17 home runs over his team's first 33 games tied a major league record, first set by Cy Williams of the Phillies in 1923 (Williams wound up with 41 home runs), later tied by Frank Howard of the Senators in 1968 (Howard finished with 44). Both Williams and Howard led their leagues.
Which Hamilton will likely do as well; he's currently leading the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, home runs, RBI and total bases. He's outhomered one entire team (the Padres, who have 13) and isn't too far behind the Cubs and Twins, who have 19.
Watching from the other dugout Friday night was Albert Pujols, who signed one of those huge deals before this season and might have been expected to do what Hamilton has. Instead, Pujols took another 0-for-4 Friday and is hitting .192. In the immortal "word" of former major league pitcher Joaquin Andujar, "youneverknow".