For a short while in 2012, Josh Hamilton was the hottest hitter in all of fantasy baseball. The 31-year-old outfielder exploded out of the gate for the Texas Rangers, hitting .395 with nine home runs and 25 RBI in April, and then went on an absolute tear in May to the tune of 12 long balls and 32 RBI with a .344 average. Life was grand for his fantasy owners and there were whispers of a Triple Crown season from Hamilton.
Then the train derailed.
After hitting 12 home runs in May alone last season, it took Hamilton nearly two and a half months to manage 12 more. His average plummeted as well, falling as low as .177 in July, and after posting 57 RBI in the first 47 games of 2012, Hamilton managed only 71 the rest of the year.
He would finish 2012 with a .285 average, 43 home runs and 128 RBI, posting career bests in home runs and RBI, and he would use those numbers to leave the lone-star state for the golden beaches of LA this offseason, signing a giant contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
When it comes to fantasy baseball in 2013, that’s huge.
Moving to Los Angeles makes Hamilton one of the most appealing players in all of fantasy this year. He’ll now be batting cleanup in the most powerful lineup in the American League, a lineup rich with superstars Mike Trout and Albert Pujols and rising stars Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick. That fact alone makes Hamilton about as tantalizing as tantalizing gets in 2013.
If he can perform half as well as he’s capable of, Hamilton will manage 100 RBI.
The Angels lineup is that good.
However, the move to LA has some disadvantages as well. Hamilton’s career average drops 20 points when away from hitter-friendly Ranger Park at Arlington, his slugging percentage 90 points and moving to Anaheim means more than just leaving Texas. It means hitting in a park in which he holds a .260 average in 38 career games.
On top of that, we all saw how Pujols struggled to live up to the large contract he signed in 2012, something that has become a sort of trend in the last several years, and the same could happen to Hamilton. His contract is worth $125 million over the next five years, $25 million a year, and with those nine figures comes a whole lot of pressure on a guy who tends to struggle with the mental side of things.
It’s certainly something to consider.
Overall, Hamilton posed an enigma to his fantasy owners in 2012, and he remains as such heading into 2013. We’ve seen absolute greatness from the outfielder, but we’ve also seen struggles and slumps made worse by controversy off the field. Regardless, Hamilton has one of the best bats in baseball and he’s batting in a prime spot on arguably the best lineup in baseball.
Going near the end of the third round, he’s a great value with the kind of upside that could break records. If you want him near the end of the second round, reach for him.
He’s worth it.
2013 Projections: .305 average, 40 HR, 130 RBI, 10 SB, 100 RS