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Friday, December 14, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALZYER: JOSH HAMILTON OUTFIELDER LOS ANGELS ANGELS

The Los Angeles Angels for the second year in a row inked the top free agent bat on the market, signing outfielder Josh Hamilton on Thursday to a shocking five-year deal for $125 million.  The shocking part is that the Angels were a late entrant into the sweepstakes, after Seattle and Texas were the only two to actively engage in talks with Hamilton.  Hitting in the cleanup spot behind Albert Pujols no doubt makes the Angels one of the most offensively potent teams in the game to say the least.  However despite the meagbucks deal, the contract doesn't change the fantasy baseball outlook much on Hamilton for this season which we will delve into a bit deeper in our latest Player Analyzer.

First stating the obvious is the fact that Josh Hamilton is right there as the most gifted hitter in all of baseball today.  Blessed with extreme natural power and a great batting eye, Hamilton is the rare slugger who has 40-home run pop which goes along with a .300-plus average.  Last season was classic Hamilton as he had his best year ever in hitting .285 with a career-high 43 home runs and 128 RBI.  He actually managed to stay healthy for an entire season for the first time ever in his career which no doubt helped with the counting stats.  Thus the hitting numbers that Hamilton puts up are the least of our worries.  While he does tend to tail off in the second half which could make Hamilton a great piece of trade bait in August, overall his bat a first round draft pick lock.

Now for the dark side of Hamilton, specifically his penchant for injuries and his off-the-field issues.  While Hamilton has overall done a good job staying clean, with a few hiccups along the way that didn't impact his playing time much, his habit of getting hurt remains a major problem for those owners who decide to take a big risk in drafting him so high this season.  Like I said earlier, 2012 was the only season that Hamilton has not hit the DL in his entire career and there is little to no chance he will be as fortunate two years in a row.  A first or second round pick should be as safe as possible due to the fact a major injury there could ruin your team right out of the gate.  Thus Hamilton is about as big a negative player to look at so high in your draft based on that crucial assessment.  Sure the boatload of home runs and RBI's are extremely enticing but the bust potential is too high here for you to take a chance on.  And that has always been the story with Hamilton.  Remember there have been two other times where Hamilton came off an MVP-type season, only to have a follow up season that went bust due to injuries and poor play.  Don't make it a hat trick in that regard.

Overall, while Hamilton may lose a home run or two going into a neutral park like in Los Angeles, his hitting numbers should be on par on a per game basis like he is used to.  However we continue to shy away from the guy when it comes to making him a high draft pick due to the risk he will ruin your team with missed games and more injuries.  You are much better covering yourself with another top talent who has a better track record of staying in one piece.

2013 PROJECTION:  .298 38 HR 114 RBI 105 R 8 SB

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