MLB Texas Rangers

Top 7 Reasons Why a Team Should Sign Josh Hamilton

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Why a Team Should Sign Josh Hamilton

Howard Smith - US PRESSWIRE

Now that major league baseball’s free agency period has officially started, Josh Hamilton will be the number one target on the list of many teams.

It’s an unusually weak crop of players that are now free agents, and that makes Hamilton all the more valued. He’s already 31 years old and he didn’t end the 2012 season as he would have liked. But Hamilton is coming off an MVP caliber campaign for the Texas Rangers, and he has a ridiculously successful five-year run with the club.

Hamilton delivered a pair of American League pennants to the Rangers, taking them to the playoffs each of his final three years. He won the 2008 Home Run Derby in stellar fashion and captured the 2010 AL Most Valuable Player award. Hamilton is a left-handed power bat who can also hit for average, play three outfield positions, and instantly upgrade a team.

Hamilton likely won’t be back with the Texas Rangers barring a sudden change of mind from the franchise. The team offered him just a one-year, $13.3 million deal once the free agency period began, and Hamilton will assuredly get at least $100 million when he decides to test out the open market.

There are a handful of potential suitors seen as the leading candidates – the Baltimore Orioles were one of the first teams to be rumored as were the Detroit Tigers, and big-name teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have to be taken seriously. The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves will need center fielders, and it could even be a surprise team like the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants.

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He Makes a Team an Instant Contender

Howard Smith - US PRESSWIRE

Signing Josh Hamilton makes any team an instant contender. Hamilton batted .285 with 43 home runs and 128 RBIs last season, posting a .577 slugging percentage and .930 OPS that made him one of the more feared hitters in the major leagues.

Hamilton can instantly shore up any team’s outfield and he can be penciled in to bat third in the lineup. That’s instant production that is worth a lot of money.

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He’s Worth About Five Extra Wins Per Year

Howard Smith - US PRESSWIRE

Josh Hamilton accounted for just 4.4 WAR last season per FanGraphs, and that was with an awful slump that really derailed his offensive numbers down the stretch.

As recently as his MVP campaign of 2010, Hamilton posted a WAR of around 8.0, and he’s averaged about 6.5 per full season since then. That’s the mark of a talented player.

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It’s a Very Weak Free Agent Class

Howard Smith - US PRESSWIRE
If a team doesn’t get Josh Hamilton in free agency, they’re going to have to settle for a player with significantly less talent. B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino and Cody Ross and Nick Swisher are very solid offensive players but they don’t provide the same all-around value as Hamilton.

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He Can Play All Three Outfield Positions

Howard Smith - US PRESSWIRE

There are a slew of talented center fielders hitting the free agency market – Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, and Shane Victorino to name a few.

Getting one of those guys would be an upgrade for most teams but one of the best parts about Hamilton is that he can play anywhere in the outfield. Hamilton – if he signs with a National League team – could play center field for a few years and then make a transition over to left field. If he signs in the AL, he could do the same and even play DH.

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He’s Not One-Dimensional

Howard Smith - US PRESSWIRE

Josh Hamilton isn’t a particularly strong defensive player but he can still play center field with relative ease. He has a strong arm, he is knowledgeable the game, and he can even run a little.

Couple that with his terrific bat and you have a dynamic player in Hamilton.

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He Can Hit Anywhere

Howard Smith - US PRESSWIRE

Josh Hamilton’s numbers in 2012 at home and on the road:

Home: .289/.358/.579/.937 OPS, 22 HR, 69 RBI in 318 PA

Away: .280/.349/.574/.924 OPS, 21 HR, 62 RBI in 218 PA

His numbers against righties and lefties:

Right-handed starters: .278/.354/.579/.933 OPS

Left-handed starters: .301/.353/.571/.924 OPS

That’s consistent, all-around production.

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He May Be Obtained Cheaper Than Expected

Kim Klement - US PRESSWIRE

There are some attributing factors that could lower Josh Hamilton’s expected contact. He’s had his fair share of notable off-the-field issues. He’s already 31 years old. He’s been inconsistent as of late. And he really faded down the stretch in 2012.

All that could scare enough teams off, and that means Hamilton may be obtained at a cheaper rate than expected.