Rangers Fan Fest was this weekend and a lot of interesting stuff came out of it. Quotes from Joe Nathan, Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, Nolan Ryan, Josh Hamilton, and Ian Kinsler. A lot of interesting stuff that can be dissected in the coming days.
For now, though, let’s address a quote from Josh Hamilton. One that carries a lot of weight and will certainly come into play down the road.
In this article written by Jeff Wilson, Hamilton talks about his own impending free agency and the possibility of the Rangers signing Prince Fielder.
In the middle of free agency talk, Hamilton says…
I just can’t wait to play a whole season […] If I play 162 games, I might hit 50 home runs and have 140 RBIs. But even missing six weeks, I still have numbers as good as anyone else.
There are two things that I’ve taken away from this.
First, I find it interesting that Hamilton seems to already be going into spin mode. This is the sort of talk you usually get from agents, but Hamilton is talking up his potential all on his own. At the same time he makes it sound like this year is going to be the year that he finally breaks through and avoids the disabled list.
In 2008, he actually did avoid injury and played the whole year (156 games). That was his breakout season and he put up Pujols-like numbers (.304 AVG, 32 HR, 130 RBIs). While he didn’t hit 50 HRs and have 140 RBIs, his numbers were great and he only missed 6 games.
The following year Hamilton went crashing into a wall and only played in 89 games, missing almost half of the season with injury. While you can’t necessarily blame the Rangers not making the 2009 playoffs on Hamilton, there was a late fade in September. It isn’t ridiculous to assume that a healthy Hamilton probably could have bolstered the line-up and given the team a better chance down the stretch.
In 2010, Hamilton won the MVP (with a ludicrous .359 AVG, 32 HRs, and 100 RBIs) and helped the Rangers make their way to the first of back-to-back World Series. He did, however, miss almost the whole month of September after breaking his ribs in Minnesota.
Last year he missed six weeks with a broken arm, but still played very well. In the playoffs, however, he struggled due to a lot of little nagging injuries. One of those being a sports hernia that he recently had surgery to correct.
So, the story here is that Hamilton is a very good to great baseball player that gets hurt a lot. Not exactly breaking news.
The 2nd part of the quote is more intriguing to me. Hamilton not-so-humbly points out that his numbers are great even when he misses time, which pretty much sums up his 2011 season.
Despite not playing for a month and a half last year, he posted a .298 AVG with 25HRs and 94 RBIs. Those are very good numbers on a team already stacked with offensive firepower.
The problem, though, is that Hamilton still missed six weeks. He may be a once-in-a-lifetime player when he’s on the field, but he’s got to be on the field for it to mean anything.
If he’s out of action at all, he’s handcuffed the Rangers. His place in the field and the line-up is impossible to fill, but the money Hamilton thinks he’s worth can’t be spread around if he’s injured and a replacement needs to be found.
While I’ve got a longer 2012 and beyond wishlist post brewing, I will say here and now that signing Hamilton to the type of contract he wants will be a mistake. By all accounts, he wants many years with much money and my gut tells me that his body isn’t going to hold up through the end of that kind of deal.
There’s a very good chance that this year will be Hamilton’s last as a Ranger, because giving him what he wants might be stupid and Jon Daniels & Nolan Ryan are anything but stupid.