Josh Hamilton, Rangers looking historicJosh Hamilton just completed a seven-game stretch in which he hit nine home runs, including a record-tying four in one game.
On the same night Josh Hamilton smashed two home runs against the Angels he also dove headlong into first base just as many times. The game last Friday represented a good snapshot of why Hamilton is the most compelling player in baseball today: he takes your breath away, whether admiring his talent or fearing he can't hold up.
The Texas Rangers' outfielder is a modern day Mickey Mantle, a supreme combination of power and speed with an underlying fragility caused by injuries and personal demons. How good he can be is only a matter of how long he can hold up.
"We've tried to get him to stop," teammate Michael Young said of Hamilton's ill-advised dives into first base. "But that's Josh. He doesn't know any other way, so we've come to live with it. I said it when he got here in 2008 and it's true today: He's the most talented player in the game. It's not like what he's doing now is a fluke. I hate to say this, but I don't even look at this as a hot streak. This is just what he's capable of."
Hamilton hit 18 home runs in Texas' first 34 games. You have to go all the way back to Cy Williams of the 1923 Phillies to find anyone who started a season with so many home runs so quickly. In a 14-game hitting streak, Hamilton has hit .396 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs. Hamilton looks so scary right now that Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson, his former teammate, tweeted, "He might break bonds record this year, no joke." As much as it lacked in grammar, the observation rang with some truth. The Triple Crown, which no one has claimed since 1967, also becomes a legitimate possibility. Teammate David Murphy, while conceding the season has run just one-fourth of its course, admitted the early vibe is that something "historic" may be in the offing.
With Hamilton at the peak of his game, the Rangers, too, have the look of a team that may be historic. Texas is destroying American League competition. This could be the best team since the 1998 Yankees. It has no weakness. The Rangers have scored the most runs and allowed the fewest in the league. In the third year of a run-scoring recession around baseball, the Rangers are hammering teams. They have outscored opponents by 2.2 runs per game. The next closest team in the league, Toronto, has a run differential of only 0.6.
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/tom_verducci/05/15/josh.hamilton.rangers/index.html