Josh Hamilton: the Worst at the Worst

Let’s all go ahead and agree right now that the worst day of Josh Hamilton‘s life probably had nothing to do with baseball. I’m not going to go into any detail, and you shouldn’t need for me to go into any detail. Who knows where Hamilton would even be were it not for having baseball in his life? Baseball, for Josh Hamilton, is a blessing, that which helps to save him from what he could otherwise become.

But in terms of just on-field baseball performance, Josh Hamilton on Wednesday might have had the worst day of his career. Hamilton, of course, has been through more devastating games, such as the last two in last year’s World Series, but those were devastating on a team level. On Wednesday, individually, Hamilton sucked, and as such he’s one of the players responsible for the Rangers still having to win another game before they can think about the ALDS.

The rest of this post is going to draw heavily upon Win Expectancy and Win Probability Added, statistics with which you ought to be familiar. Basically, at any given game state, we can calculate a team’s odds of ultimately winning. This is Win Expectancy. The difference in Win Expectancy between one game state and the next game state is Win Probability Added, and it’s an individual-player metric. You can sum up individual-play WPA to get full-game WPA, or even full-season or full-career WPA. You know all this so let’s move on!

In Wednesday’s critical game between the Rangers and the Athletics, Hamilton finished 1-for-5 with a single. That’s not a very good game, by Hamilton’s standards, and let’s break it down by plate appearance. Here’s how Hamilton’s first plate appearance finished:

With one on and one out in the top of the first, Hamilton grounded out on a pitch out of the zone. WPA: -0.027

Hamilton’s second plate appearance:

With one on and one out in the top of the third, Hamilton singled to put runners on the corners in a one-run game. The pitch, for whatever it’s worth, was out of the zone, too. WPA: +0.059

Hamilton’s third plate appearance:

It was 5-1 Rangers in the top of the fourth when Hamilton struck out with one out and none on. The pitch was well out of the zone. WPA: -0.005

Hamilton’s fourth plate appearance:

Suddenly, it was 8-5 A’s in the top of the sixth when Hamilton struck out with two out and none on. The pitch was out of the zone. WPA: -0.008

Hamilton’s fifth and final plate appearance:

With the score still 8-5 A’s in the top of the eighth, Hamilton struck out with two out and one on. This time the pitch was in the zone! Barely. WPA: -0.016

Add that all together and Hamilton’s offensive game was neither strongly positive nor strongly negative. Going 1-for-5 with three strikeouts is pretty bad, of course, especially for a superstar, and the Rangers could’ve used more production, but Hamilton contributed to a big rally and his other plate appearances came in lower-leverage spots. His total offensive WPA, and the WPA that shows up in his game log, was +0.004.

But oh does that ever not tell the whole story. You see, Josh Hamilton on Wednesday wasn’t the Rangers’ designated hitter, and he did this thing in the bottom of the fourth. I’ll just…yeah, here you go.

Let’s see that again, sort of:

The A’s had rallied, and the score was knotted up at five. Yoenis Cespedes batted with two out and two on, and at that point the A’s Win Expectancy was 55.1 percent. Cespedes lifted a leisurely shallow fly ball, and then the Win Expectancy was about 50 percent. Or that’s what it would have been had the baseball been caught. Hamilton just whiffed on it for no good reason and two runners scored, lifting Oakland’s Win Expectancy to 79.2 percent. Meaning the Win Expectancy swing caused by Hamilton’s inexplicable error was 29.2 percent. This has to be factored in with Hamilton’s offense, and all of a sudden, oh man, wow, way to blow it, Josh Hamilton.

Some people might say that, because the A’s won by seven, Hamilton’s two-run error didn’t really matter in the end. Those people would make for bad friends and worse significant others, because those people are complete idiots. Had Hamilton caught a fly ball he should’ve caught with ease, the entire sequence afterwards changes and who knows how the game ends? All we could know for sure is that the A’s and the Rangers would’ve been tied 5-5 after four innings of play.

Put together, Hamilton’s Wednesday WPA comes out to — let’s round and call it -0.29. According to Josh Hamilton’s career game log, that’s tied for the second-worst game Hamilton’s ever had, as on June 6, 2012, Hamilton came out to -0.31. In that game he went 0-for-4 and struck out in the ninth with two outs, the bases loaded, and the Rangers trailing by one. Of course, I haven’t gone through all of Hamilton’s other games and accounted for errors, but it’s hard to imagine an error worse than the one Hamilton made Wednesday, and on June 6, 2012, Hamilton went errorless, as outfielders usually do.

So, technically, Wednesday’s was not Josh Hamilton’s worst-ever game. It’s close enough, though, that it was arguably his worst-ever game, and that’s before we even consider the stakes. With a win, the Rangers would’ve advanced straight to the playoffs. With the loss, the Rangers are instead advancing to the pseudo-playoffs. The overall game leverage was huge, and the leverage at the time of the error was huge, so Hamilton’s effort was particularly costly. It had a direct and significant effect on the Rangers’ overall odds of winning the World Series.

Josh Hamilton had just about his worst-ever game at just about the worst possible time. Most of that, granted, was because of one single miscue. But, holy hell, what a miscue.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Eric
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Eric
3 years 10 months ago

Hey, now, a win in that June 6th game also advances the Rangers to the real playoffs. Obviously, this one is more emotionally devastating, but the June 6th one was equally as devastating to their chances of winning a World Series.

NatsFan73
Member
NatsFan73
3 years 10 months ago

Just as we can’t say how subsequent innings would have played out had Hamilton made that catch in game 162, we can’t say how subsequent games would have played out had the Rangers won on June 6th. I’d say yesterday’s gaffe has a more significant negative WSPA (World Series Proabablity Added) than does anything that happened back in June.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 months ago

Nope, both losses counted as one loss in the standings and, thus, were equally important, as was each other loss all season. Just because one was after the others doesn’t make it more important.

monkey business
Member
monkey business
3 years 10 months ago

While strictly true, it gets harder to see how that one works. Even within a game It is a little ham handed to say we have no idea how things would have gone, but between games…

Tanned Tom
Guest
Tanned Tom
3 years 10 months ago

Mistakes will happen. What irks me is he appeared to be loafing. On such a fly ball the A way to field it is to get there soon enough to be waiting for it, not still moving towards it as it comes down. A bad result, but a lazy effort.

Bob
Guest
Bob
3 years 10 months ago

agreed.

on mlb.tv they mentioned that wash asked him if he lost it in the sun and he said no. so an uber-talented MLB level CF just dropped a routine fly ball. that just doesn’t happen. hate to say it but he and the rest of the rangers team just didn’t seem to care. they looked out of it before the game even started.

Kampfer
Guest
Kampfer
3 years 10 months ago

Even after the error was made, he seemed to be very leisure and care little about the situation by jogging to the dropped ball slowly. If he tried harder Cespedes may had to stop at first. His effort was definitely in doubt.

ralph
Guest
ralph
3 years 10 months ago

Agreed. I kinda feel like if the Rangers lose the coin-flip game, this incident will hasten Hamilton’s departure from Arlington.

Bab
Guest
Bab
3 years 10 months ago

This is partially due to “saving face” after “completely fucking up.”

Ham actually looked pretty devastated later in the game.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 months ago

A player actually sees the ball better if he moves toward it from a side angle than if he is waiting for it. I don’t know if there’s any difference between waiting for it or approaching it slowly from head-on, but I’m guessing there’s not.
At first, both live and in the GIF, I though Hamilton was too casual in going after the ball after he missed it, but upon further viewing, I can see that he just had a hard time getting his footing after the unexpected miss.

Juan Chapa
Guest
Juan Chapa
3 years 10 months ago

It seems the Ranger outfielders are trying to go on to the
next step BEFORE securing the ball. Cruz’s gaffe was
similar to Hamilton’s. Cruz was trying to throw the ball
BRFORE securing it. Whether they’re tired or just plain
lazy, they get paid to execute as professionals. Their
infield is pretty solid, with Beltre and Andrus as
potential gold glovers. However, their outfielders need
more work (where is their coach?). In a close pennant
race and play-offs (and World Series), errors are
magnified. With the Rangers pitching staff not being
the best in baseball, excellent outfield defense is
required. But let’s face it, Hamilton is NOT the
Rangers’ best defensive centerfielder. He is a
corner outfielder. By leaving him in center, the Rangers
are asking for trouble, in the form of painful
shortcomings or injury. What is BEST FOR THE TEAM
always needs to be the Number One Priority! That is
why Oakland is the West Division Champ. They played
better as a team, and the TEAM was their first priority!

marlins12
Guest
marlins12
3 years 10 months ago

Is that how they started with a 5-1 lead?

Tim A
Guest
Tim A
3 years 10 months ago

A 5-1 lead on a bunch of BS squibs. Wash said it best they were out played all series period. they could have won either of the first two. JH will for sure be a little poorer leaving that as his I’m a FA moment.

Danmay
Guest
Danmay
3 years 10 months ago

You mean like how Matt Holliday only got 7/120 after making a huge outfield error versus the Dodgers IN the playoffs.

Toffer Peak
Member
Toffer Peak
3 years 10 months ago

Holliday made a genuine error though on a more difficult play rather than a lazy effort. And it only allowed a player to get on base with two outs rather than allowing two to score.

channelclemente
Guest
channelclemente
3 years 10 months ago

Never discount the ‘sky’ in the Bay Area in September and October.

Adam M
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Adam M
3 years 10 months ago

“Those people would make for bad friends and worse significant others, because those people are complete idiots.”

Laughed out at my computer at work. Thanks, Jeff. If I lose my job for loafing like Hamilton did on that fly ball, I’m blaming you.

joe bananas
Guest
joe bananas
3 years 10 months ago

brooks conrad malkoviched josh hamilton

Aggie E
Guest
Aggie E
3 years 10 months ago

he was bad, but you would think he attacked an opposing player or shot a teammate the way people are jumping on this guy. he has a chance to make up for it Friday and the rest of the post-season if they win. I thought he loafed on the play but he may do that 100 times and only miss once. What about the time he cadillac’d a pop-fly and caught it? Nobody talks about those times….

TrappedInAfangraph
Member
TrappedInAfangraph
3 years 10 months ago

Well the frustration directed toward Hamilton isn’t just about yesterday’s game.

bloop triple
Guest
bloop triple
3 years 10 months ago

It’s more than that. Talking Josh Hamilton gets complicated very quickly…

Combination of outrageous natural talent, lack of commitment to fully develop such talent, and having enormous personal weaknesses that would cost the rest of humanity more than “a few years away from baseball…”

We could elaborate.

TrappedInAfangraph
Member
TrappedInAfangraph
3 years 10 months ago

This is the worst but not the only time Hamilton has just disappeared. Used to be he would disappear to the disabled list. This year his plate discipline disappears and his production goes with it. Some of the excuses for these slumps are so ridiculous I couldn’t have made them up.

Obviously when he’s on his game he produces. All he has to do is lay off the pitches out of the zone away, and suddenly he’s one of the best pure hitters you’ve ever seen. A monster.

So many issues, though. Distractions. I’ll be happy to see him walk. The Rangers can offset his loss by finding a merely above average outfielder and dropping MIke Young for a league average hitter. To the team who signs him as a free agent, I say good luck. He is not going to age well and will become a mistake hitter pretty soon.

Aggie E
Guest
Aggie E
3 years 10 months ago

He already is a mistake hitter..

TrappedInAfangraph
Member
TrappedInAfangraph
3 years 10 months ago

When he lays off those outside junkballs he can hit anything else with authority. When he looses a bit of bat speed say goodbye to that ability. And he’s 32 so it’s coming.

Youppi!
Guest
Youppi!
3 years 10 months ago

it reminded me of nelson cruz.

the window has closed.

Delirium Nocturnum
Guest
Delirium Nocturnum
3 years 10 months ago

agree 100% – been saying this all year.

Michael
Guest
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t see how you can credit him with the full loss of win probability on that play. Then, essentially, that play (and any routine play hit to a fielder) would be a negative free roll. If you’re crediting the pitcher with most of the WPA for getting the easy fly ball, you have to at least factor in the marginal fielding win probability added for the actual completion of that play, and all other plays in the field he actually made that day. You can’t just pick and choose the one play he missed and pretend every fielder has ~100% chance of catching it. It’s not a fair use of a mean zero statistic if there is a play where he can only lose probability, but not gain any.

Toffer Peak
Member
Toffer Peak
3 years 10 months ago

You’re technically right but since CFs will make that play 99% of the time it ultimately doesn’t make a difference, particuarly since he rounded the WPA anyway.

Michael
Guest
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Yes I basically agree, but he probably made some plays in the game that <99% of CF's make.

Evan
Guest
Evan
3 years 10 months ago

Well he was only credited with 2 POs and 0 assists and both POs were in low leverage situations (2 outs no one on 5-1 in the 3rd; 0 outs no one on 9-5 in the 8th).

He may have kept one or more runners from taking an extra base, but he didn’t catch any balls that added significant value to his team winning the game.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 months ago

You are absolutely correct, Michael. Jeff should have stated the points you make in his post.
The post was entertaining, but not really illuminating.

DA RAP GUY
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

My best bet is that Hamilton heads out to the Marlins next year.

Toffer Peak
Member
Toffer Peak
3 years 10 months ago

Did you seriously just post joke about a man falling to his death?

bpdelia
Guest
bpdelia
3 years 10 months ago

I WISH I could give that 20,000 -‘s. you truly are a p.o.s. that made, me much angrier than most trolling does. im almost speechless. examine yourself asshole. man what a prick you are.

Syl
Guest
Syl
3 years 10 months ago

You disgust me.

Basebull
Guest
Basebull
3 years 10 months ago

He’s going to get a silly contract and not even be in the league by 2015. Mark it down.

Juan Chapa
Guest
Juan Chapa
3 years 10 months ago

Some dumb owner will probably give him a $270 Million 6 Year
contract, and then the dumb dufus will be thinking why his
payroll keeps climbing and other players wanting outrageous
contracts. The dumb owners are baseball’s biggest problem.
Whatever stupid mistakes they make, all they have to do is
sit around for several years, waiting for their team to
appreciate in value, and then sell out.

Tex Pantego
Guest
Tex Pantego
3 years 10 months ago

The worst of it is, we have a defensively-gifted CF, Craig Gentry, who managed a 2.7 WAR in just 269 Plate appearances .

The reason he only had 290 PAs and wasn’t in CF yesterday?

Starting Gentry would mean the benching of defensively-challeneged Michael Young, who managed a NEGATIVE -2.4 WAR in 651 PAs.

Gentry would’ve not only have made that catch, he wouldn’t have had to really, as we’d have had the AL West title wrapped up weeks ago had he been our starting CF.

bpdelia
Guest
bpdelia
3 years 10 months ago

yeah but dude the grit and veteran leadership. the been,there done that. the lead by examplism! the game face, HEART! DESIRE! you get 4 extra wins with gentry sure…but you get PRESENCE … VETERAN presence with Mike Young. you can’t overstate the value of an old guy sucking. it shows everyone else how to be a BASEBALL player.

Juan Chapa
Guest
Juan Chapa
3 years 10 months ago

What does it matter. The other players do not listen.

Northhampstonstead
Guest
Northhampstonstead
3 years 10 months ago

You sort of did have the AL West title wrapped up weeks ago.

emptyhanded
Guest
emptyhanded
3 years 10 months ago

The Texas Rangers deserve everything they get for playing Hamilton and not benching Young.

Pfft
Guest
Pfft
3 years 10 months ago

Not the “Rangers” really but more specifically, Ron Washington. Very few in the media seem to get the point about Wash, because the Dallas media never says a bad word about him. This is because most of the Dallas media loves Michael Young.

One voice that is certainly anti-Wash is Keith Law. Hope he talks up more.

Juan Chapa
Guest
Juan Chapa
3 years 10 months ago

Washington has a defective philosophy about playing the
players that got him there, in lieu of going with the hot
hands. The objective is to win. By going with the
“What Have You Done For Me Lately” mentality will keep
the players on their toes. All the young players the A’s
secured in trades made them contenders. Now,
Hamilton is walking, and the Rangers will have nothing
to show for him.

GMS
Guest
GMS
3 years 10 months ago

Anyone else read Bill Simmons’ history of the Golden State Warriors, “How To Annoy a Fanbase in 60 Easy Steps” (http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7714701/how-annoy-fan-base-60-easy-steps)?

Of particular interest is point 7: “During the Cocaine Era (1977-1986), the Warriors somehow ended up with three of the league’s most notorious coke guys (King, Richardson and Lucas) and an interesting stigma: As legend had it, the Oakland Hyatt (where visiting teams stayed) was the best place in the league to score drugs, so struggling players routinely fell off the wagon during their Golden State trip. Oh, and if you’re scoring at home, the Warriors didn’t make the playoffs for nine straight seasons … from 1978 to 1986. Everybody lost in Oakland. Even the visiting players.”

I believe teams stay in SF now, but one wonders if Oakland is still the city in which players are most probable to fall off the wagon.

david
Guest
david
3 years 10 months ago

ron washington for sure

anatole
Guest
anatole
3 years 10 months ago

Eric Show.

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
3 years 10 months ago

A couple of things I am seeing this season from Josh that I have never seen before. First, his outfield play has drastically declined this year, especially in center. He’s lost at least a step from his MVP year. He’s never had the perfect routes but he could cover that up with his speed. Not anymore.

He’s also lost any resemblance of a two-strike approach at the plate when he’s behind in the count. He used to consciously cut down his swing with two strikes to protect more of the plate. Now he is hacking no matter what the situation, unless he thinks he can get an RBI from a sacrifice fly or ground ball.

Pfft
Guest
Pfft
3 years 10 months ago

What’s “funny” is that in April – though he swung at everything – he hit everything. Inside, outside, in the dirt, over his head. He hit and killed everything. Opposite field and pulling it. I have never seen an individual hit the baseball like that and I don’t think I ever will again.

And in the outfield in April, he caught everything. I’ll bet he dove 50 times in the outfield in April – caught everything. In April, he was more than Superman.

After the 4 HR game in early May, Josh disappeared.

philosofool
Guest
philosofool
3 years 10 months ago

When the off-season comes around, I want a post explaining how to make these wonderful gifs.

Josh Hamilton
Guest
Josh Hamilton
3 years 10 months ago

The worst day in my baseball career? How about when I accidentally killed that fan I threw a ball to?

AlanB
Guest
AlanB
3 years 10 months ago

Remember, random variations? An error then is the same as an error in game one of the season.

Ted Spevick
Guest
Ted Spevick
3 years 10 months ago

Hey…why didn’t thermos call the infield fly rule on that play?

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