Let's play a game, one of my favorites, blind stat lines. I'm going to give you five stat lines without names attached and you get to guess who they are:
Player A: .204 AVG, .298 OBP, .393 SLG, .189 ISO, .305 wOBA, 93 wRC+, 11.0 BB%, 26.3 K%
Player B: .215 AVG, .307 OBP, .373 SLG, .158 ISO, .303 wOBA, 93 wRC+, 11.2 BB%, 32.0 K%
Player C: .261 AVG, .302 OBP, .397 SLG, .136 ISO, .307 wOBA, 93 wRC+, 4.8 BB%, 23.7 K%
Player D: .223 AVG, .279 OBP, .408 SLG, .185 ISO, .297 wOBA, 89 wRC+, 6.8 BB%, 25.1 K%
Player E: .230 AVG, .279 OBP, .403 SLG, .173 ISO, .296 wOBA, 89 wRC+, 6.1 BB%, 13.4 K%
It's a mystery! Now, due to the title of this post, you know that one of these players is Josh Hamilton. You probably can even pick out his stat line if you are an ardent enough fan. The question is who are the other four players? I'll give you one big hint: more than one of them (but not all of them) has been designated for assignment and not picked up by another team in the last two weeks. Go ahead and place your bets. I'll go grab some coffee, or something. I don't actually drink coffee. And I live in Seattle. I don't fit in very well.
…and we're back! Did you enjoy yourself? Do you have any guesses or did you just keep reading without really thinking about it because you are no fun?
Whatever the case, let's start with the big reveals.
Player A is none other than Jason Bay. You know him from being a big free agent bust with the Mets, but more recently you know him as being released by the Mariners.
Player B is the one, the only Mark Reynolds. Despite having the best OBP of the group, Reynolds is currently unemployed having been release last week by the Indians who felt they no longer needed him despite being on the fringe of the playoff race.
Player C is the inimitable Delmon Young. Far and away the owner of the best batting average and wOBA, it seems that Delmon is also a man without a team after being cut loose by the Phillies last week. Surely you must realize that there is a pattern developing here.
Player D is…. Josh Hamilton! Congratulations if you guessed right. You win absolutely nothing.
Player E, which I included really just to twist the knife a little bit, is the 2012 stat line of Vernon Wells.
Well, that was fun in a really depressing, soul-rending sort of way, but before you collect your lovely parting gifts I suppose that we should discuss the moral of the story. That moral would be OH MY GOD JOSH HAMILTON IS REALLY, REALLY BAD!
This isn't really news, it is just that it always helps to put things in a frame of reference. Sure, we knew Hamilton was bad, but seeing that he is appreciably worse than three guys who have all been released in the last month really goes to show just how miserable he has performed. Then to see that his line is virtually identical to that of Vernon Wells, one of the worst Angels ever, really drives the point home.
This isn't to say that the Angels should release Hamilton. His contract is far too large for them to even consider that. Rather, it is to point out that if the contract weren't an issue, other GMs seem to have voted that players as bad as Hamilton is this late in the season don't deserve to be on a roster anymore.
In other words, it is the Vernon Wells dilemma all over again. It is the same lousy production and an even more horrific contract. Now, before we finish up here there is one more mystery line I want to throw at you:
.248 AVG, .288 OBP, .376 SLG, .131 ISO, .291 wOBA, 79 wRC+, 6.1 BB%, 15.9 K%
That would be the 2013 line for Vernon Wells. Yes, he somehow got worse and that is what scares me the most. We tell ourselves time and time again that Hamilton can't possibly be any worse. He has too much talent to continue playing so poorly. But Wells is proof that you can get worse, much worse. Let's hope that Wells is the exception and not the rule, otherwise Josh might find himself in the unemployment line along with Bay, Reynolds and Young this time next year.