Is Josh Hamilton the new Tiger Woods?
When Josh Hamilton signed with the LA Angels this offseason for five years and $125 million, the Angels front office was assuming that they were getting the Josh Hamilton that hit the would-be game winning home run in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. They were gambling that the fact that Josh had hit for .245/.322/.487 and 22 HR since June 2012 thru the rest of last season was just an aberration, and a change of scenery would bring a change everything, including his approach at the plate.
To-date, that gamble has not paid off, at all. But that’s not to say that he won’t eventually turn things around. What the Angels have to realize is that the definition of “turn things around” is going to be hard to swallow.
Much like the fact that the Tiger Woods we all knew pre-2008 will never be “back”, the Josh Hamilton that was hitting .316/.370/.556 for his career thru May 8, 2012 and .366/.417/.758 and 21 HR thru May 2012 will never be back either. If he simply stops swinging at balls that hit the dirt before they get to the plate, his numbers will increase. Some may argue that the difference is Tiger had a very public trauma happen to him, and Josh just feels too many emotions too often, however, what happened to Tiger’s game was going to happen eventually, it was just accelerated by the fact that he drove his SUV into a fire hydrant. Every athlete’s body changes as they round out their twenties. Your athleticism starts to fade, your body fills out (and breaks down), and your swing changes along with it.
Tiger Woods may very well win another couple of Majors, but anyone waiving their “Tiger’s Back!” signs, is in denial of what they’ve been watching the last four years. Same goes for Josh Hamilton. The Josh you’ve seen for the last year probably isn’t the Josh you’ll see at the end of his contract, but neither of those Joshes are the guy that hit that Game 6 home run, and he’s never coming back.