Last year was a tough year for those who had rooted so hard for Josh Hamilton to continue to inspire us. We all know his story. The gifted young phenom who threw it all away to drugs that almost killed him. The salvation, both spiritually and athletically that started when the Reds took a flier on him in 2007 and were rewarded by a Hamilton who responded with a 134 OPS+ in 90 games that year. He became an inspiration and an icon of hope for millions of families who have dealt with addiction issues that, unless you've lived through them, crippled and maim like no other family issue. Yes, last year was tough. It was not only the degradation of performance in which a Hamilton that ruled the leaderboards for almost all of 2008, became fairly pathetic at the plate when he could physically play. But it wasn't only that, it was the crushing blow that his us when it was revealed that he got caught in a night of revelry and debauchery. Oh God, no. Not Josh Hamilton.
We don't know where Hamilton currently is in his struggles with the never ending demons that push and shove and try to destroy anyone who tries to overcome them. It's not something that is talked about or written about, at least to this writer's knowledge. But we do know that after some early season injuries and after a slow start, Hamilton is again hitting like 2008 and is once again a force at the plate for the Rangers. We'll take what we can get.
Hamilton went four for five on Wednesday night while hitting his sixteenth homer and driving in his 48th runner. The 29 year old outfielder has gotten a hit in 22 of his last 24 games including the last 12 straight. Eleven of those games were multiple hit games. In those 24 games, he's gone 41 for 113 (a .363 pace) with nine homers and 25 runs driven in. He's raised his average from .268 to .323 and his current line stands at .323/.371/.594 good for a whopping OPS of .965. With the absence of Nelson Cruz, Hamilton has filled the gap and been amazing.
But rooting for Hamilton has its drawbacks. It's a pins and needles feeling of hoping for the best and dreading the worst. May all of our dreams yet hold true.