OPINION: Hamilton criticism simply an attempt to stir up controversy

Rangers vs. Rays

Credit: Getty Images

Josh Hamilton fouls off a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during Saturday's game at Tropicana Field. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

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by BEN TAYLOR

WFAA Sports Blogger

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 19 at 7:09 PM

I’m not a medical doctor. I have no capacity to differentiate between a headache and a leg strain in an advisory capacity. Under that same guise, attempting to criticize a player for missing time due to a sinus headache is also not within my capacity, absent confirmed opinions from doctors or other medical professionals.

Josh Hamilton has recently been attacked for leaving yesterday’s game early due to a sinus headache in the middle of a perceived battle for the AL West crown. Instead of jumping to a conclusive judgment on the mental strength of the Rangers’ second-best hitter this year based on a vague description of a headache, I’m going to make a more subtle, and probably more reasonable assumption – Josh’ departure in the 4th inning didn’t result in the 8 runs the Angels scored that inning. It also probably didn’t change what we do know about Josh – he is a powder keg of production ready to ignite at any moment.  Admittedly not the easiest player on the roster to handle, he is still one of the most productive players in the Majors over the past few years.

So let’s try a shocking exercise here – instead of wild conjecture about an abstract concept such as grit and “mental toughness” – let’s check out how Josh’s career numbers in September and October compare to earlier in the season over the course of his career.  Given Josh’s career OPS of .916 as a base point, do later in the season at bats skew downward or upward?  For his career, Josh has a .960 OPS in the months of September and October (thanks, Fangraphs!). Josh’s worst month? July, where he is an .865 hitter.  Clearly, Josh isn’t prepared for the postseason.
 
Then again, I’m sure struggling through the playoffs last year with a groin injury and still finding himself in the lineup, and being a pretty good late-season hitter (playoff numbers are still too small to really be significant as an indicator yet) are less indicative of Josh Hamilton’s mental toughness as a player than leaving a game due to a sinus headache that could have potentially been anywhere from a minor burn to a debilitating migraine.
 
There is plenty about Josh Hamilton that can be criticized entering free agency, but to jump on him for this seems to be more of the “let’s get page views” variety of reporting than the “let’s rationally evaluate things” variety.  Of course, that’s just my opinion.
 
Ben Taylor is not a medical doctor, but he is a passionate local sports fan burying himself in the Rangers because he doesn't want to think about the Cowboys right now. Follow him at @Benjihana -- he probably won't tweet profanity about Felix Jones.

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