ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Josh Hamilton said before Friday's game against the Angels that this would be a good time for the Rangers to get really "hot, hot" because they haven't been that way for a while. Hamilton was asked when the last time he has been really "hot, hot." "Last year ... just to be honest," said the reigning American League's Most Valuable Player.
Hamilton, who missed six weeks early in the season with a fractured bone in his right arm, went into the Rangers' three-game series with the Angels hitting .298 with 17 home runs and 71 RBIs in 93 games. He had a .345 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage. Last year, he hit .359 with a .411 on-base percentage and a .633 slugging percentage. "I can't think about being hot or on fire like I was last year, but it is a little disappointing," Hamilton said. "I understand that's the way the game goes. I'm not having a bad year, but I'm not having the year I'm capable of having. But I can't worry about it because if I do, I'll start stinking really bad." Hamilton said the one good thing is his strikeouts are down, but that's not necessarily the case. He struck once every 6.01 plate appearances last year to once every 5.89 plate appearances this season going into Friday's game. But that's not the important point. What's important is that Hamilton feels that he has changed his approach and not in a good way. "I feel I'm in a contact mode more than turning it loose," Hamilton said. "I'm fighting myself trying to figure out what to do. It's easy to say, but then I get up there in a contact mode instead of getting mad and swinging. "There's a fine line between being too aggressive and not aggressive enough, and looking lazy. I haven't been able to find a happy medium, which is controlled aggression. That's the thing that's bugging me." Manager Ron Washington laughed when told of Hamilton's comments when meeting with media in the manager's office before the game. "Why are you telling me this?" Washington said sitting at his desk. "Thank you. I'll take care of it. I'm going to have a talk with that guy." Obviously Washington wants Hamilton to turn it loose rather than just try to make contact. "He has been a little inconsistent," Washington said. "He's inconsistent and he's still hitting .300. He hasn't had a month like he has before where he really carries us. I hope it's on the horizon because there is still baseball left to be played." Hamilton's home run output has dropped, but he is still driving in runs at the same rate as last year. He hit one home run per 16.19 at-bats last year, and that has slipped to 21.94 this season. But his at-bats-per-RBI rate remains relatively unchanged, 5.18 last year to 5.25 this season. "He's carrying the target of reigning MVP, and they're not going to make a mistake on him," Washington said. "So he's trying to make it happen." Hamilton was hitless in his last two games going into Friday's game and was 4-for-23 in his last seven games, although two of those hits were home runs. "Hopefully I'll figure it out at the right time," Hamilton said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.