How Badly Do You Want Me? Josh Hamilton’s Opening Salvo

It’s reported by that Josh Hamilton will seek a seven yr/$175MM contract this offseason.  Hamilton and Zack Greinke are the top two free agents available in a fairly shallow free agent pool.

Hamilton was drafted #1 overall by Tampa Bay in 1999, but didn’t see major league action until 2007.  Since then he has established himself as a superstar.  It’s what you don’t see on the stat sheet that bothers so many people.  He has substance abuse issues in his past, and he’s also been prone to injuries.  Prior to ’07, substance abuse delayed the start of his career and almost destroyed his life.  After his debut in ’07, injuries have limited Hamilton to playing a full season only once (2008).

Since then, however, Josh has produced three seasons of 4+ fWAR (4.1 in ’08 and ’11; 4.4 in ’12), and one season of 8.4 fWAR (2010) when he was named AL MVP.  He’s been an All Star five times; he’s placed top ten in MVP voting twice and 22nd on another occasion; he hits home runs; and he gets on base a lot.  He’s produced wRC+ figures greater than 126 five of his six seasons in MLB.  Very few question his ability on the diamond.

It’s the combined impact of substance abuse, injuries, and age (he’ll be 32 in May) that’s prickly.  Many see the prolonged slump that he (and TEX, and their fans) endured in July and August of ’12 as a portent of things to come.  Prior to 2012, he didn’t strike out much for a slugger but this season his K-rate soared to 25.5%.  He played well in September, but made a crucial error in the final game of the season that allowed OAK to snatch the division title away from TEX.  He didn’t play well in the one-game playoff against BAL, either.  He was 0-4 with 2 Ks and a GIDP as TEX bowed out with scarcely a whimper.

Even within the economic context of professional sports it’s exorbitant since his history must play a role.  But interpreting that history is problematic.  Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder signed enormous contracts last year, but they were easier to interpret.  Pujols was 31 and one of the greatest offensive players of his generation, while Prince filled a void created by an injury to Victor Martinez.  But now there’s Josh…

What do you think?  Is he worth it?  Will he get it?  Is this just stage one of contract negotiations?  Is it a tactic to scare away pretenders?  Who will sign him?

Wes Kepstro


4 Responses to “How Badly Do You Want Me? Josh Hamilton’s Opening Salvo”

  1. 1 Wes Kepstro November 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    In keeping with the Jays ‘rumour’, it’s tough to think that Bautista-Hamilton-Encarnacion will only ever be a dream.

    I laughed at the MIL rumours. It’s pretty tough to piece that one together.

    Thanks for the kind words. Hopefully we can offer some analysis of a major acquisition by the Blue Jays soon. Whether it comes by trade or free agency, I don’t care. Git ‘er done, AA.

  2. 2 Idiot Fan November 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Clearly he is signing with the Jays. Ha

    I have heard Milwaukee believe it or not. Five years though.

    This site has been churning out great pieces man, keep it up. You were a solid addition Wes!

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