Hamilton's historic week among all-time best
Slugger's performance measures up to greatest seven-day tears
When Josh Hamilton was interviewed about the events of the seven days from May 7-13, he provided a big-league understatement, something he hasn't been very good at doing while doing most of the talking with his bat.
"It's been a good week," he said.
Hamilton apparently was too busy running around bases with his head down to know just how good of a week he had.
With a batting average of .467 (14-for-30), nine home runs, including four in one historic game last Tuesday, plus two doubles and 18 RBIs, Hamilton simply had one of the best weeks at the plate in Major League history.
And he joined some heady company in the process.
The statisticians at the Elias Sports Bureau came up with three relatively recent examples and two older ones to put Hamilton in his proper historic place. The results made the Rangers outfielder's freakish accomplishment even that much more impressive.
The last player to have a comparable week to Hamilton's was Shawn Green, who went on a tear while with the Dodgers from May 21-27, 2002, almost exactly 10 years ago. Green went 17-for-32 (.531) with 10 homers and 18 RBIs in that seven-day period, which began on a Tuesday and ended the following Monday.
Like Hamilton, Green enjoyed a four-homer game during that big week. Green's was a tad better than Hamilton's, too, because Green went 6-for-6 in the May 23 game against the Milwaukee Brewers (Hamilton went 5-for-5 last Tuesday). Then again, Hamilton got him in the RBI department for the one game, driving in eight to Green's seven.
"That it could happen in just one day blows my mind," Green said at the time. "I don't like too much attention, but it's been fun."
No kidding. Nineteen total bases -- 18 for Hamilton -- in one game and a whole lot more in a week. That does sound like a lot of fun. As long as you're not pitching.
The next person on the list had his share of fun, too. How else to explain the seven-day performance of Carlos Delgado from Aug. 6-12, 1999, when the then-Blue Jays first baseman went 16-for-29 (.552) with eight homers and 13 RBIs?
Delgado's "week" to remember began on a Friday, when he hit three homers against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. He was a mere 2-for-4 the next night and failed to leave the yard, but he then went deep in the ensuing four games, including a two-homer night in the Metrodome against the Twins on Aug. 10.
Oddly, Delgado's famed four-homer game did not come in this stretch. The slugger wouldn't etch that particular feat in the history books until Sept. 25, 2003, when he smacked four out of what was then called SkyDome against the team that was then called the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, becoming the last man to launch four big flies in one game until Hamilton did it.
Less than a year before Delgado's seven-day binge, the best week came courtesy of Albert Belle, who hit .515 (17-for-33) with nine homers and 19 RBIs from July 9-15, 1998, while a member of the Chicago White Sox.
July 9 was a Tuesday, and Belle started things off by going 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs. He homered twice while driving in six runs the next day, homered once and drove in three the day after that, and tossed in a hitless game on July 12 before homering twice on the 13th, once on the 14th and adding two more on the 15th -- one in each game of a doubleheader.
Perhaps more incredible than the results of those seven games was the fact that Belle finished the year with a .328 batting average, 49 homers, 152 RBIs, an OPS+ of 172 and a .655 slugging percentage ... and ended up eighth in the American League MVP voting.
Yes, Hamilton has some big-name company when it comes to MLB's best weeks ever, and there aren't many names bigger than that of the man who went 21-for-40 (.525) with seven homers and 23 RBIs from Aug. 21-27, 1935.
That would be Henry Louis Gehrig, and although the numbers are gaudy, so is the old-school reality of the time that the Iron Horse's Yankees were in the midst of an iron schedule. The gamedays of Aug. 21 (a Wednesday), and each day from Aug. 25-27 (plus Aug. 28 and the next day New York played, Aug. 31), were all filled with twinbills, so Gehrig had 11 games in a seven-day span.
And along the same lines, Hall of Famer Mel Ott had himself quite a week from June 16-22, 1929, when the New York Giants right fielder hit .541 (20-for-37) with seven homers and 22 RBIs. Ott's streak, which began with a run-of-the-mill 2-for-5, one-homer, two-RBI Sunday game against the Brooklyn Robins at Ebbets Field, included three doubleheaders for a total of nine games.
Looking back, all of this makes Hamilton's Monday-through-Sunday highlight reel stack up just fine with the best in Major League history.