Josh Hamilton: Mr. 74?
Best week ever? Maybe not, but Josh Hamilton is having a week that defies conventional logic. In the past week (six games), he has hit NINE home runs with 15 RBIs! A huge chunk of those homers came on May 8, when he became only the 16th player in history to hit four bombs in the same game. He currently leads the league in every major offensive category to include the coveted Triple Crown. As of now, he is projected to hit 86 home runs with a .402 average and 195 RBIs.
It is hard to imagine that he will remain hot enough to attain those crooked number, but is it possible for him to break the single-season home run record of 73? Can he become Mr. 74?
Argument for YES
1. Pace: As of right now, Hamilton is three homers ahead of the pace set by the current record holder. Again, he is on pace for 86 HRs this season. Even if he slows down, it’s conceivable that he could make it north of 70.
2. Swing: Historically, one of Hamilton’s cold zones has been low and inside. However, this season, he has been crushing that pitch. It may have all started when he gave an about-face to a 98 MPH Jason Motte fastball that was low and in late in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.
3. Lineup Protection: The current record holder had limited protection behind him in the lineup; so, intentional walks were frequent. However, Hamilton is the center piece of the best hitting lineup in baseball; so, do not expect to see him granted many intentional passes.
Argument for NO
1. Ebb and Flow: The pitching in the Majors it too good to allow someone to stay this hot for an entire season. He will definitely slump, but the length of his slumps will make the difference.
2. Strikeouts and Walks: Even in a week where he hit nine HRs, he also struck out nine times. He is on pace for 133 strikeouts with only 62 walks. Now, his walks might increase a bit, but he will have to decrease his strikeouts to give himself enough at-bats to push for the record.
3. Injuries: In order for Hamilton to even have a chance at this record, he will have to play in 150+ games which he has only done once in his career. Injuries and time off could play a huge roll this season.
Will he do it? NO.
Josh Hamilton is as close to a real life Roy Hobbs as we have ever seen, but I do not think he will take down the record. I think he is a shoe in for 50, but his injury-riddled past coupled with his K/BB projections lead me to believe that he will not have enough at-bats to become the single-season HR king.
That’s my take, but I want to hear from you! The debate gauntlet has been thrown down. Tweet me your thoughts (@KyleOKC), and be sure to leave a comment below.