Josh Hamilton: Evaluating OF’s 2014 Fantasy Value

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

One year ago, Josh Hamilton was the hottest free agent commodity in the hot stove season. Now, almost exactly one year after he signed a big contract with the Los Angeles Angels, I can’t help but wonder, are his days as an elite Major League Baseball player over? Given his 2013 season, it seems like a good question to ask. 

Split
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
2012562103431287.285.354.577
2013 (Actual)5767321794.250.307.432
2013 (Projected)56093371116.286.346.554

Of course, if they are, his days as an elite fantasy baseball player are also over.

So, let’s examine this a little deeper. Is Hamilton done?

 

Why it’s a valid question

There are a few reasons why this is a good question to ask, but we can start with what Hamilton did in 2013 vs. what he did from 2010-2012. 

Season
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
201051895321008.359.411.633
20114878025948.298.346.536
2012562103431287.285.354.577
20135767321794.250.307.432

Obviously, you can see a big drop-off across the board in 2013, but look at his batting average. That’s a steady decline. Sure, you’d expect a drop from .359, but a steady drop from .298 is also a little troubling.

Hamilton is a .295 career hitter but if you eliminate 2010, he’s at a .283 mark. If you eliminate his 2008 and 2010 seasons — the only times Hamilton has exceeded .300 — he’s a .277 hitter.

Now, we don’t want to play the “what if” and “if you eliminate this and/or add this” games too much here, but I am going to play it here to make this point. Batting average wise, Hamilton has had two big outlier seasons, especially if you don’t count his injury-riddled 2009 campaign. Those two seasons 2010 (.359) and 2013 (.250). It’s not hard to say that 2010 was a significantly greater outlier than 2013.

He also made a move from the Texas Rangers, meaning he was leaving a very cushy hitter’s park. Anaheim, like every other West Coast city, is incredibly friendly to pitchers. Guess what? He’s going to be an Angel for a long time. If you look at the salaries in the remaining years of his contract, you’ll see that he’s not getting traded anywhere.

  • 2014: 17 million
  • 2015: 25 million
  • 2016: 32 million
  • 2017: 32 million

Well, he’s not going anywhere unless the Angels agree to pay an obscene amount of his contract. So, don’t expect him to move to a better hitter’s environment at any point of his career.

Also, I don’t want to focus too much on Hamilton’s past, but if you readers are familiar with anyone with a drug and/or alcohol past, Player Profile HitterI’m sure you know what that does to the body. Hamilton will only be 33 in May, but who really knows how old Hamilton’s body is telling him he is?

Lastly, how reliable is the rest of his team? Yes, Mike Trout is an absolute stud, but can you really depend on the other Angels hitters at this point? I sure can’t. It’s a team with a lot players who like Hamilton, are complete boom or bust candidates.

 

Why we may be jumping the gun

The first thing here is pretty simple — bad seasons happen. They happen to just about everyone at some point in their careers and it’s pretty rare when one bad season is a valid reason to completely give up on a guy.

Also, if he was done, I mean completely done, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he’d be decreasing steadily throughout the season? Well, the numbers don’t quite back that up. 

AB
R
HR
RBI
AVG
280301150.279

That’s what Hamilton did from July 1 through the end of the season. So, since that’s pretty much exactly half of his season, see what his numbers would have been if he played at that clip all year. 

AB
R
HR
RBI
AVG
5606022100.279

Still not quite what you’d expect, but they look a lot better, don’t they? Now, the second half run totals weren’t nearly as good, but that’s more about the rest of the Angels. Hamilton was getting better as the season got longer. Part of that was that he set a very low bar early on, but he hit .323 in September, which is good by just about any standards. If Hamilton’s getting more comfortable, then a hot streak becomes more and more possible. When that happens, we know that Hamilton can be an out-of-this-world player.

 

Where we stand on Hamilton

Our top goal at Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks in this offseason is to do a better job with our Draft Kit projections than we did in the 2012-2013 offseason. So, we partnered up with Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball to crunch the numbers even deeper to come up with an even better Draft Kit in February of 2014. So, what do the early projections say for Hamilton? 

Josh Hamilton: Early 2014 Projections

 
AB
Runs
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
BB
K
Josh Hamilton5628428964.263.322.47950156

Understandably, more modest than what we came up with for the 2013 season. I generally agree with the computer on this one. With the possible exception of RBI, I’d say that a healthy Hamilton should at least equal those projections, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him closer to .280.

Now, you have to be conservative with Josh Hamilton and if you’re thinking of drafting him, I’d say to expect that .263 average to come. That said, Hamilton’s got the potential to exceed the projections, and the signs point to that being more than just a remote possibility.

Topics: Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels, OF

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