Josh Hamilton’s four-homer game last night puts him here as of this morning:
.406/.458/.840 with 14 homers and 36 RBI.
That places him well ahead of everyone in all three triple-crown categories and — close your ears, stats people — on pace to break the single-season home run record and RBI record, all while matching Ted Williams’ average from 1941.
No, of course he’s not going to do that because baseball doesn’t work that way and mid-May through late September still count in the stat-lines. But the magnitude of awesomeness emanating from Hamilton’s bat is something to behold. For a player who always seems a hair’s breadth away from disaster, Hamilton is, so far anyway, putting up one of the better contract walk-years in recent memory.
Which makes it understandable that a lot of people are talking about his contract status this morning. He’s poised to be a free agent at the end of the season. He’s kicking butt and taking names. But that’s exactly why the Rangers should do absolutely nothing about his contract at the moment.
It’s negotiation 101: you do not start talks with a person at the moment their leverage and stock is at its absolute highest. You wait for things to settle down and for your position to improve. Hamilton will not, shockingly, hit four home runs a game that often. And if history is any guide, he will spend some time on the disabled list this year, reminding everyone that he is a risky investment even when he’s playing his best. And that’s before we get into his substance abuse history.
So shelve the contract discussions, everyone. Nothing productive can come of them for the time being because the Rangers aren’t dumb and they’re not going to get swept up in some sort of “Oh noes! We might lose Josh Hamilton!” panic just because he had a huge game. To the contrary, they’re going to wait until things calm down and the risks and rewards of signing Hamilton can be reasonably assessed.
In the meantime, they’re gonna enjoy the Josh Hamilton laser show. Just like everyone, with the exception of the opposing pitchers, should too.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.
Matt Holliday might not have a landing spot with the Cardinals in 2017, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang his cleats up just yet. Prior to the Cardinals’ afternoon set against the Pirates on Saturday, the 36-year-old expressed his desire to further his career elsewhere, even if staying in St. Louis is not a possibility.
It’s been a down year for the outfielder, who batted .242/.318/.450 through 107 games before landing on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb. His 0.6 fWAR is the lowest mark of his career to date. Notwithstanding two injury-riddled seasons (he was sidelined through most of 2015 with a right quadriceps strain), he’s performed admirably for the Cardinals over the past eight years, putting up a .292/.379/.494 batting line, 156 home runs, and 26.8 fWAR with the club. With a return to full health, he might not be on the market for long.