Former AL MVP Josh Hamilton has returned to the Texas Rangers. Seemingly banished by Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner Arte Moreno following a relapse into substance abuse, Hamilton was sent back to his former club and is currently working his way through the minor leagues in an effort to return to form.
While the odds are against the soon-to-be 34-year-old regaining the stroke that made him one of Major League Baseball’s most electrifying talents, there is no denying that Hamilton has always had a flair for greatness.
Here are five moments that made Josh Hamilton one of the greatest baseball players of the last decade.
5.) First Big League Home Run
After being selected with the No. 1 overall pick of the 1999 MLB Draft, it seemed as though Hamilton’s promising career was ended before it began. A litany of problems including an automobile accident, injuries, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, kept Hamilton from realizing his Major League dreams.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Hamilton was finally able to break through with the Cincinnati Reds. On April 10th of that year, Hamilton smashed the first home run of his Major League career. It was a feelgood moment for Hamilton and baseball fans and became the first of many more to come.
4.) 2010 ALCS, New York Yankees Vs. Texas Rangers
The 2010 season may have been the best in Hamilton’s big league career. His .359 batting average was tops in the league and he was able to smash 32 home runs despite missing a significant portion of the season due to injury.
When it was all said and done, Hamilton was the 2010 American League MVP.
Perhaps his greatest moment of the campaign came in ALCS against the defending world champion New York Yankees. Despite New York’s hesitance to pitch to the slugger, Hamilton was able to hit four home runs and knock in seven RBI. His performance paced the Rangers to their first World Series appearance and earned him ALCS MVP honors.
3.) 2011 World Series, Game 6, Texas Rangers Vs. St. Louis Cardinals
If the Rangers’ bullpen had been able to protect the team’s lead, Hamilton’s heroics in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series may have gone down as the finest moment in his career.
With one out and the game level at seven a piece in the top of the 10th inning, Hamilton hit a towering homer over the right field wall to give Texas a nine to seven lead in extra innings. The team was later one strike away from winning the World Series, but the bullpen gave it up, negating Hamilton’s magic moment.
2.) 2008 Home Run Derby
Without question, the 2008 Home Run Derby during All-Star weekend was the coming out party for Hamilton. Although he lost out to Justin Morneau in the event, his record-breaking effort in the competition’s first round captured the imagination of the sporting world.
Of his 35 total dingers in the event, 28 came in the opening round of competition. The effort included a string of 13 consecutive balls sent out of the park and seven shots that cleared 500 feet from the plate.
Hamilton’s performance smashed the previous mark held by Bobby Abreu and put him on the map. To this day, it remains one of the most incredible feats I have ever witnessed.
1.) Hamilton Goes Five for Five
While some would name his Home Run Derby exploits as the greatest moment of his Major League career, Hamilton’s offensive explosion against the Baltimore Orioles in May of 2012 gets the nod in this list. For the game, Hamilton had five hits in five at-bats, including four home runs.
It was the 16th time in baseball history that a player had hit four HR in a single game. Moreover, his 18 total bases in the contest set a new AL record.
Hopefully the former MVP can provide baseball fans with more memories as he resumes his Major League career.