Monday, November 26, 2012

A Positive Perspective on Josh Hamilton

Another day, another Josh Hamilton rumor. Seems like it will never end, right? The report itself suggests that if the bidding reached the $215 million mark, which Fielder was awarded this past season, the Brewers will bow out.

Since this blog is mostly civil, we'll refrain from using real names and just accredit that expert analysis to "Baloney Oyster".

But really, after reading that, the word "duh" comes to mind. That's not even really a rumor; it's common sense. The Brewers aren't going to spend $200 million on Hamilton. But apparently, nobody else wants to either. As stated in the link:
"Some agents think offering four years could help get a deal done. 'Nobody is giving him more than four years,' one agent told (Oyster)."
"Some speculate Hamilton could cost more than $25MM per season on a relatively short-term deal."
It's easy to see a lot of downside to signing Josh Hamilton, and most of the points are perfectly justified. But this one got me thinking a little. Would 4-years, $100 million really be the worst thing for a talent like Josh Hamilton? Consider the following...
  • From 2008-2012, Hamilton is 4th amongst OF in fWAR with 22.4, trailing only Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, and Ben Zobrist (who is totally underrated). Amongst all position players in that span, he is inside the top 20, despite all the time he missed.
  • During that same stretch, he has averaged a .386 wOBA; good for top 10 amongst position players. His lowest wOBA during that time was .321 in 2009, when he missed almost half the season. It hasn't been below .369 since.
  • A lot of elite players have been playing baseball at a high level for the past 5 years.
  • Hamilton is probably best utilized in RF, where his career 6.0 UZR/150 along with the eye test would tell you he'd likely be an above average defender there.
  • Hamilton has averaged 134 games over the past 3 years. Corey Hart has averaged just 141 games during that same time. Of course, Hamilton will also probably be making double what Hart was during that time.
  • Still, Hamilton is a better all around player than Hart.
  • 75 of Hamilton's career 161 HRs have gone out to right field. Cesar Izturis and Craig Counsell have hit homeruns at Miller Park.
  • He has a career .808 OPS against LHP.

So what have we learned? There's a lot of things to like there, and the theoretical price is not as awful as it could be. Were the Brewers to somehow land Hamilton on a 4-year deal, they would get him through his age 35 season, which would likely be one of his last truly productive years as a player.

The obvious question becomes "how many games will he actually play over that span"? 134 games a year is low by "elite player" standards. But considering how much 1B/DHs make for how limited they are outside of hitting, there are worse things in life. That, and you also have two more than capable backups in Nori Aoki and Carlos Gomez, who I hate to say, seem very unlikely to replicate their stellar 2012 campaigns (but that's for another post).

For now, I'm giving you slim optimism for a move that's already unlikely to ever occur. And by unlikely to occur, I'm thinking the odds are more around one in a million. Still, the rumors will keep coming, and until he's signed, we'll keep our collective breath held while we wait and see if Jerry Narron adopts him, or whatever the reason he keeps getting mentioned is.

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