Josh Hamilton admits his confidence has wavered during a brutal season in which the five-time All-Star and 2010 American League most valuable player is batting .213 with 10 home runs, 24 runs batted in and 73 strikeouts for the Angels, numbers that are hardly commensurate with his five-year, $125-million contract.
And many fans have lost faith in Hamilton, as evidenced by the boos in Angel Stadium, which were as loud Tuesday night after Hamilton grounded into three double plays and struck out twice in a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners as they have been all season.
Did they bother Hamilton?
“No, I’ve been hearing it all year,” he said before Wednesday night’s game. “I hate to say you get used to it because it’s not something you want to get used to. But I can’t blame them. I feel like I’m giving them everything I have, but obviously the results aren’t there, so they have a right to do or say what they want.”
The fallout from the worst game of Hamilton’s horrendous season came Wednesday night when Manager Mike Scioscia dropped him to seventh in the order, a spot Hamilton had made only 19 career starts in, the last in 2009.
Hamilton, who has a .269 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage, opened the season in the cleanup spot. He was dropped to fifth on April 30 and moved to second, between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, on June 8.
“We’ve tried a lot of different things with Josh,” Scioscia said. “I think it’s going to be good for him to not worry about hitting in the middle of the lineup. Just go down there and play baseball for a little bit and find his stroke.”
Hamilton has always been a streaky hitter, and in the past, one good swing could trigger a monthlong hot streak. He’s had some good games this season, hit a few homers, driven the ball to the opposite field, worked some counts and drawn some walks, but he hasn’t been able to sustain any kind of groove.
“Sometimes you feel good for a game and the next game you don’t feel good — that’s the baffling part,” Hamilton said. “In the past, it’s either clicked at some point or you get a couple of bloop hits and start moving in the right direction. The biggest thing is being confident, and it’s tough to do when you’re not successful.
“After a couple of months, you’re like, ‘OK, it’s going to come any minute.’ But it’s hard. When you’re struggling and you stay in that spot when you feel like you’ve done about anything you can to get out of it, the confidence starts to waver some.”