Nolan Ryan may have saved the Texas Rangers season. Ryan recently called out Josh Hamilton for giving away at bats. Even the most ardent Hamilton fans can not argue with what Ryan said.
While doing an interview on Galloway and Company on ESPN Dallas, Ryan had the following to say,” ” … Some of his at-bats aren’t very impressive from the standpoint that he doesn’t work deep into the count, he’s swinging at a lot of bad pitches, he just doesn’t seem to be locked in at all. So what you’re hoping is that his approach will change and he’ll start giving quality at-bats because there’s a lot of those at bats that he just gives away. One of the things I’ve always commented on is I can’t ever say that I ever saw Henry [Hank] Aaron give an at-bat away.”
More important, than what Ryan said, was the fact that he said it. Up until now nobody in the Ranger’s front office, or the team manager Ron Washington, or coaches were publically saying anything. Hamilton has been getting a free pass, because, well, he was Josh Hamilton. Now with Ryan speaking out, not even a player’s manager like Washington can ignore what is going on with Hamilton.
Hamilton has been terrible at best in the last two months. In the last 10 games, Hamilton has looked lost. In his last 38 at bats, covering the last 10 games, Hamilton is hitting .138, with 13 strike outs, a mere 7 RBI, and only one home run. This is not the performance the Rangers need from what some in baseball call the best player in the game.
The problem as I see it is not in talent, it is in the determination and desire. Hamilton has gone from being the best thing on the Rangers, to the biggest liability in the Ranger’s lineup. With Hamilton performing as he is, opposing pitchers have no reason to pitch to Ian Kinsler or Elvis Andrus in front of Hamilton. Even if, Kinsler or Andrus do get on base Hamilton will do his best to leave them stranded by swinging meekly at the first pitch, no matter if it is a strike or not.
Washington to his credit heard and reacted to Ryan. He moved Hamilton out of the three spot, and even sat him out a game. It is difficult to argue with the outfield of Nelson Cruz, Craig Gentry, and David Murphy giving the Rangers a better chance to win than if Hamilton is in the field. Murphy and Gentry work the count, and give it their all each time they step in the batter’s box. Hamilton, on the other hand, swings at bad pitches and makes every pitcher he faces look like Cy Young.
On April 4, I wrote an article for Yahoo Sports asking if the Rangers should trade Hamilton at that time while he still had value. Fan’s Take: Should the Texas Rangers Trade Josh Hamilton Now?
I wish I had been wrong, but results tell the story. Hamilton has issues somewhere, whether at home, or with the film being made about his life, or with the demons of his past. Whatever the issues are, they are quickly becoming the issues of the entire team. If Hamilton cannot find his swing and swagger soon, the Texas Rangers as a whole will pay the price by missing the playoffs, or at the least making a quick exit from them.
Hamilton said before the season he owed nothing to the Rangers past this season, and while he had a valid point, he does owe something to them and their fans this season. He owes them a honest effort, and lately that is not what they have been getting.
J. Brackston has been an avid Texas Rangers fan since they moved to Texas from Washington D.C… He has rooted for the good teams and bad teams, and watched 100’s of games at the old Arlington Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.