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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Josh Flipping Hamilton

My wife and I like watching those house flipping shows. You know...Flip This House, Flip That House, Property Ladder, etc. We've always enjoyed home improvement shows, and I guess the tension that's associated with trying to renovate what are often terrible properties on a short timeline with a tight budget takes it to the next level.

Anyway, tonight we selected The Real Estate Pros off of Tivo, which aired last Sunday. To my shock, this episode was almost entirely about Josh Hamilton!! Oh, and some guy named Shoeless Joe Jackson's house.

The show was recorded in 2006, starting prior to spring training and prior to Josh's reinstatement into baseball. The piece profiles Josh's efforts to get clean and stay busy while trying to get back into baseball. There was some uncertainty at the time about whether he'd ever be permitted to play ball again within the MLB-system, and the owner of the show's real estate company was trying to get Hamilton to sign with an independent team that he'd recently purchased (can you imagine?).

At the end of the show, Josh finally got approval to play in the official minor league system again, joining the Hudson Valley Renegades in late 2006. In the at-bat they showed near the end of the program, Hamilton reached on what was probably ruled a double, but was basically a routine shallow outfield pop-up that somehow fell in between two players. He scored on a subsequent single. It was one of three doubles and seven runs that Josh scored in his time with the Renegades.

Seeing this special, I realized that I'd somehow almost forgotten just how amazing Hamilton's 2007 season was. I mean, we all knew it was an incredible story when it was happening. And yet now, while I obviously still remember the excitement surrounding his first several months in MLB, I find myself almost taking the guy for granted. In fact, if you'd asked me about my thoughts on Hamilton yesterday, I'd probably cite concerns about whether he could stay healthy enough to get in a full season next year, and my hopes that the Reds could somehow move him out of center field.

And that would have been completely off the mark. Think about what happened: Josh Hamilton was acquired in January, somehow had a brilliant spring, slugged his way into the starting lineup by mid-April, and had the best rookie season by a Reds hitter since Austin Kearns. All that after almost literally coming back from the dead, and getting just 50 AB's in professional baseball since the 2002 the New York-Penn League.

Here are his final 2007 numbers:
2007 CIN 26 337 19% 10% 22% 0.318 0.292 0.368 0.554 0.262 0.922 0.940 -0.9 24.5 6.7

I There's absolutely nothing to not like there, except maybe the fact that he's already 26. Heck, PrOPS even indicates that he may have been a bit unlucky. Congrats, Josh, on a fantastic season. Can't wait to see what you do next year.

Oh, and by the way, in the house flipping show, Josh Hamilton helped renovate Shoeless Joe Jackson's home into a new museum. Kinda neat.