I type this with a bit of trepidation. I type this only as it was asked to me at work yesterday. I'm about to become a reluctant skeptic and it doesn't make me feel so hot.
What's gotten into Jason Giambi?
The question drips with accusation, implied guilt, unfair treatment. It's also a question in direct violation of "small sample size". But, how does a player flick the switch as acutely as Giambi's done this month? I don't want to hear more about the thong, or that gawd-awful moustache. But how do you explain it? Is it just a guy getting hot for a stretch, or do we have to consider something more insidious given his history?
Remember, too, that this is a guy likely playing for another contract, somewhere, as the Yanks will most likely not exercise his $22M option (paying a $5M buyout).
March/April 2008: 23 games, 5 HR, 12 hits, .164 BA, .315 OBP
May 2008: 20 games, 6 HR, 21 hits, .339 BA, .481 OBP
(click here for more splits that are pretty amazing thanks to the always interesting Baseball-Reference.com)
What's also interesting is that Giambi's monthly splits are eerily even across his career:
- Month: BA/OBP/HR
- March/April: .281/.402/66
- May: .289/.406/61
- June: .301/.429/64
- July: .289/.404/65
- August: .283/.420/57
- September/October: .288/.406/62
So what's going on here? Just a hot player? Just a healthy player? Just a superstitious player? Or something more?
Not fair, I know, but given his background, do we have any choice but to consider the alternatives?
Also strange, last night, Giambi hit his 11th HR of the season, which was also his 187th as a Yankee. He also hit 187 as a member of the A's. Doesn't mean anything, but accidental symmetry is always neat.