The Josh Hamilton sweepstakes are finally over, as Hamilton and the Los Angeles Angels have reportedly agreed to a $125 million, five-year deal. Hamilton, 32, was easily the highest-rated position player free-agent on the market this off-season.
Reggie Von Bartles
Hot Stove: Josh Hamilton Signs With the Halos
Thursday December 13th, 2012
Although Hamilton was reportedly linked to re-singing with the Texas Rangers, the Halos were able to close the deal without much media attention.
The move should come as no surprise to fans, as the Angels made a similar singing last off-season, when they inked superstar first baseman Albert Pujols to a ten-year mega-deal.
The 32-year-old slugger hit .285/.354/.577 with 43 home runs in 148 games in 2012. According to FanGraphs.com, he was worth 4.4 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement). His appearance in 148 games last season marked the first time since 2008 that he's appeared in more than 140 games. For his six-year major-league career, he's a .304/.363/.549 hitter that has been worth approximately 25.0 fWAR. He won the American League MVP in 2010 while with the Rangers, hitting .359/.411/.633 with a 1.044 OPS and 32 home runs. He also helped the Texas Rangers reach the World Series for the first time in 2010.
For Hamilton, there are many story-lines regarding his background and past issues with substance abuse. He was the former number one pick for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 2009 MLB Draft. He didn't play baseball during the 2003-2006 seasons due to personal/medical issues. After a brief stint with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, Hamilton was traded to the Texas Rangers during the off-season. He spent 2008-2012 with the Texas Rangers, appearing in 647 games and hitting .305/.363/.549 with 142 home runs.
There have many articles and speculation on Hamilton during the 2012 season, as he was arguably the best available power hitter on the free-agent market. With that said, I won't dig too much, as many fans are very familiar with what Hamilton brings to the table. He's a 32-year-old outfielder who has struggled not only with substance abuse, but has also seen plenty of time on the disabled list.
He missed approximately 15-16 games in 2012 due to knee, back, groin, and head injuries. He also missed time because of a "general illness". In 2011, he missed approximately 39 games from an injury to his right arm. In 2010, he missed approximately 27 games due to side/rib and knee injuries. I could continue, but you get the point. Although Hamilton was injured often, the Rangers still produced the second fewest number of different lineups in 2012.
While injuries could be part of the blame for a poor performance in 2012, his numbers regarding plate discipline reveal that one of Hamilton's main problems was swinging and not connecting on pitches out of the strike zone. Via data from Fangraphs.com, I was able to create a visual of Hamilton's outside and inside strike zone discipline from the 2009 to 2012 seasons.
Although his swing percentage on pitches inside the strike zone (bottom visual) have increased - his swings on outside of the zone pitches has had a steady increase over the past three seasons - making it somewhat easier for pitchers to handle his power bat.
For an average salary of $25 million per season, the Angels are paying for Hamilton be approximately worth 5 fWAR. As mentioned in previous articles, we can assume that each win is worth approximately between $5.5 and $6 million. Hamilton's only season with at least 5 fWAR was in 2010, when he won the 2010 AL MVP and was worth 8.4 fWAR.
For the Rangers, the move leaves the Texas Rangers searching for offensive answers, as they lost Mike Napoli to Boston Red Sox earlier this off-season and now Josh Hamilton to the Angels. However, the team still has Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, and Ian Kinsler (among others).
Overall, the Angels are hoping the acquisition of Hamilton will help the team reach the playoffs. However, as we saw with General Manager Jerry Dipoto's spending frenzy last season, this doesn't always work. With Hamilton, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Vernon Wells, and Peter Bourjos all listed in the outfield, the team could easily trade one or two outfielders to acquire pitching depth. The signing overall seems as an overpay, but perhaps the Angels figure that if they sign a superstar away from their division rival, it will help them in the long run. However, while the offensive numbers should be great for the Angels in 2013, the team lacks starting pitching depth.
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