It didn’t take very many games played in the 2013 season for the Los Angeles Angels to realized what is now utterly apparent: spending boat loads of money does not translate into wins. After all, the Angels have spent a staggering $137.3 million on their roster this season, yet they sit 16.5 games behind an Oakland Athletics team that cost a mere $62 million.
The one player that epitomizes this more than anyone else for the Angels is Josh Hamilton, the highest-paid player on either roster this season at $17.4 million, and who is aging extremely quickly to the point where he could quite possibly turn out to be the worst free-agent signing in MLB history.
Since signing a five-year $125 million contract with the Angels last December, things have been absolutely awful at the plate for Hamilton. His triple-slash at the plate during the 2013 season reads .246/.303/.433 with 21 home runs, 72 RBIs and three stolen bases.
This putrid line is by far the worst of any season in which Hamilton has played 100 or more games. What makes matters worse is that Hamilton has been seeing good pitches, if only because many pitchers have been too afraid to pitch to Howie Kendrick and Mike Trout, who bat in front of him.
The problem is that his bat speed has never been worse, and after striking out 153 times this season, it is clear no real adjustment has been made. Bat speed is not something that normally gets better with age, and it is hard to believe that Hamilton is going to be the one to break this trend at 32.
Meanwhile in the field, things have not been much better for Hamilton as he has lost a lot of the range which originally made him both a great outfielder and one of the best all-around players in baseball. Sabermetrics back up what the eye is showing as well, with Hamilton’s defensive WAR in 2013 being a career worst -1.4.
It is certain that age and past issues with drugs, which certainly played a part in tearing his body apart, have came back to haunt Hamilton’s defense and made it likely that he will only get worse as time goes on.
At the age of 32, it is very hard to see any way that Hamilton recovers to become the player that he once was, and the Angels will ultimately be the ones left on the hook for this. This is because they have committed the fifth-largest annual value of any contract in MLB history to a quickly aging player, and have actually agreed to pay him an astonishing $32 million during his age 35 and 36 seasons.
Watch out Angels fans, this one could get ugly.