In ‘The Zone’: Locked in or in luck?

From Andrew Simon at on May 29, 2012, with mention of SABR member Alan Reifman:

In the aftermath of his rare feat, Josh Hamilton tried to attach an explanation.

It was May 8, and Hamilton was standing on the field, where he had just become the 16th player in Major League history to hit four home runs in a game. The Rangers outfielder told a television interviewer about “staying small,” not “trying to do too much,” and “taking the barrel of the bat to the ball.”

The clichés continued to flow in the coming days as Hamilton steamed ahead on streaks of nine home runs in six games and 16 homers in 23 games. He discussed how the game had slowed down and he was seeing the ball well. He claimed to be keeping his thoughts to a minimum.


For a former player like Shawn Green, hot streaks are glaringly real. For experts who study the issue, like Texas Tech University professor Alan Reifman, they exist as a fluctuation in the statistics, but are merely descriptive rather than predictive, providing little indication of what’s to come.

In 2002, Green hit four homers in a game and 24 in a 43-game stretch, making him one of the few who can identify with Hamilton’s torrid run. He also can articulate the experience better than most, having covered the issue in his book, “The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph.”

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Originally published: May 29, 2012. Last Updated: May 29, 2012.