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Will Josh Hamilton return to MVP form in 2012?

Game 6

Credit: AP Photo / Matt Slocum

Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton, right, is congratulated by Esteban German (6) after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 6 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

WFAA Sports Bloggers

Posted on February 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 22 at 9:14 PM

Alex Collins: Hamilton will never be an MVP in this league again, but he will have flashes of MVP-caliber play.  That being said, Hamilton can be very productive in spurts.  When he is in a groove, specifically the extended grooves that Texas fans are accustomed to seeing, he is perhaps the best hitter in the league.  It’s the slumps and injury issues that prevent him from putting up the huge numbers we see from Miguel Cabrera or Matt Kemp types.  

The big injury from last year, his broken arm, wasn’t a byproduct of his body breaking down -- it was a fluke injury on a relatively foolish play at home plate.  Hamilton's play will always be affected by some kind of injury, and he can play through that pain, but to expect the type of production he brought to the table in 2010 would be unwise.
 
 
Mike Marshall: It's a little painful to reach down into my heart and turn the breaker switch to "off" to answer this question. No, I don't think Josh Hamilton will ever return to his MVP form. In fact I don't think he'll finish top 20 in MVP voting for the rest of his career. A multitude of factors keep me from entertaining the idea that he'll ever return to that magical summer of 2010; he keeps running himself into walls, catchers, the ground, he plays through injury thus not at his peak the majority of the time, he's past that 27-30 year old sweet spot for hitters, he didn't treat his body very well for a long stretch of time. 
 
He has found a way to contribute at the plate without trying to put the ball over the fence, which is very impressive and encouraging for the Ranger fan. He can be a very good left handed bat for the foreseeable future. But he's not an MVP-caliber player.
 
 
Kevin Turner: I don't necessarily think he wasn't in MVP form last year.  When relatively healthy, he's a force and a superstar caliber player.  It's just a given that he's not going to play 140 games.  He will be injured for a fairly significant amount of time.  That's just what he is -- the best raw talent the game has ever seen, but also one of the league's most significant injury risks.  
 
He's undoubtedly the most "freak of nature" -type athlete that i've ever seen, or will ever see.  It's a shame that there are so many question marks that come along with Hamilton.  I think he can play at a MVP type level, but I don't think he will ever win another MVP award.  There will be guys that put up similar or better numbers, that play every day, and Josh Hamilton is just not going to play every day.
 
 
Sam Hale: Can he? Absolutely. He was still pretty decent last year, but not near what we expect from Hamilton. Will he? If he can stay healthy, I believe so. I think his health is the key to this season. No one is questioning what Hamilton brings to the plate, and with the way the lineup has been configured Hamilton will get some pitches he can drive. If he is allowed to play a full season of left field and won't have to shift over to CF (which is much more physically taxing) he should be able to cut his chances of sustaining an injury. If he stays healthy, I fully expect to see the MVP winner return to form in a contract year.
 
 
Josh Davis: There is a real problem in guessing the future of Josh Hamilton - he's largely unprecedented.
 
I would love to pull from history or statistics to make an argument. But the fact is, there aren't any facts or numbers that equate to Hamilton's history. It's his journey from peak to deep valley to peak that has made his story so gripping for fans, and it is a story still unfinished.
 
But I don't see a comparable offensive season to 2010, unless you pull Hamilton out of the outfield and put him at designated hitter, with a stoplight on the base pads. And I think Hamilton would refuse to play that way, even ignoring that the Rangers are well stocked at DH with Michael Young and Mike Napoli ( on his days away from first and catching).
 
We watched Hamilton play last postseason with a brutal hernia injury and saw an offensive diesel engine switched to electric - the power was largely gone (other than one swing that should have decided the World Series), but it was still productive. To his credit, Hamilton downplayed the injury to the media and fans in interviews until after the season had concluded. If Hamilton is really healthy again, that power will return and so will one of the five most dangerous bats in the majors.
 
I fear for his continued health due to the way he plays, because Hamilton has shown that his health isn't his first priority on the field. He takes risks, he goes full sprint, he puts his body at risk every time he hits the wall or stretches that extra little bit to reach a base or ball. That makes for a player who is fun to watch, but not one who will play more than 140 games in a year.
 
Hamilton will be productive when he is on the field in 2012, and he will more than likely play at an All-Star level when healthy. However his days of MVP-candidate offensive numbers are over unless he can stay on the field, unless he or the Rangers change the way Hamilton plays.
 
And I don't think either side will consider that change.  

 


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