No One Wants Josh Hamilton. Let’s Stop Talking About It.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this. For one thing I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that it actually happens. For another thing almost everyone I talk about sports with (on twitter and otherwise) agrees with me (to your great credit. Nice work everybody!), so it’s not like I’m even really arguing with anyone.  That said, the idea is still out there and in the spirit of Halloween it just won’t stay dead, and I’d like nothing better than to dismember this rumor and scatter the pieces to the four corners of the earth where they can never reform, raise from the dead, and start infecting my twitter feed again.

A few things need to be said about Josh Hamilton:

  1. He’s not a bad player in a vacuum. He’s quite good actually.
  2. There is obviously some level of compensation where I’d be fine signing Josh Hamilton.
  3. Josh Hamilton has various personal problems that have impacted his play in the past, and may very well do so again in the future.

So I don’t want this to sound like I’m declaring Josh Hamilton to be the worst player in baseball.  He’s not. And if they sign him to, say, Aramis Ramirez’s exact deal I’m probably fine with him, but that is not happening and unless he’s insanely cheap, he’s a terrible fit.  Here are 8 reasons why.

  1. He does not address a problem.

I’ve heard many post-season baseball announcers refer to the baby-eating Cardinals as “the best offense in the National League.” That is simply not true. The Milwaukee Brewers led the NL in runs in 2012 with 776, 11 more than the redbirds and 18 more than the Coors-inflated Rockies. No one else was even close. The fact of the matter is that the Brewers can regress on offense next year and still easily be top-5. Hamilton is primarily an offensive player. He does not add much, if anything, on defense.

2. He is not a CF, and his numbers are not nearly as impressive for a corner OF.

His UZR this season was -12.6, and his FRAA was negative as well (-1.5). He looks slower and will probably be consigned to the corners (or 1B) going forward. In center he’s no sure bet to be more valuable than Carlos Gomez simply based on defense.  This means that…

3. He replaces Hart or Aoki.

Both Hart and Aoki are both fine players. Hamilton is a better player than Aoki (probably) but he will also cost way more. Hart is still under team control for 1 more year (at $10,000,000), and while we all have concerns about his knees, consider that Corey Hart is younger than Josh Hamilton, at this point plays basically the same positions as Josh Hamilton, and over the last 2 years hasn’t been markedly less valuable than Josh Hamilton.  When Aramis Ramirez took over third it was a HUGE upgrade from Casey McGehee. Hamilton would barely be noticed.

4. Josh Hamilton has played his entire career in teeny-tiny ballparks.

At home his career OPS is .967. On the road it’s .858. Something to keep in mind.

5. The Brewers biggest problem is pitching.

This does nothing to solve it.  If he were to get a sizeable contract that hamstrung their ability to sign a pitcher it would not be helpful at all.

6. He misses games.

Josh Hamilton played in 148 games this season. It was the most he’s played since his age 27 season in 2008 and it was probably too much has he was far less effective after May (though he was pretty great in August). Last year he played in 121. The year before that he played in 133 games. The year before that, just 89 games.

7. His MVP season in 2010 looks like a crazy bonkers outlier.

He hit .359 that season. His next highest batting average is .304 in 2008. Those are the only times he’s hit over .300. His OBP was .411 in 2010. In 2011 and 2012 it has been .346 and .354, respectively.  He will almost certainly never have a season like that again.  It looks very out of place in his career stat line.

8. He has a lot of baggage.

If you sign Josh Hamilton you’re already taking a risk on an older player who will probably be moving to an easier position. You’re also taking the added risk of having a recovering drug addict who needs constant babysitting. (By the way, none of this should be construed as me calling Hamilton a bad guy. I think he has a serious problem, I think he realizes it, and I think he absolutely does his best to deal with it. That said, these problems are real, and if you’re paying the guy you have to consider them).

This whole Josh Hamilton thing has been a weird idea from the get go. It seems completely like a meatball sports radio comment that actually picked up legs somehow.   Unless he’s cheap, it’s insane and unnecessary. It’s like something big market team with money to piss away would do. It’s not what a smart club would do.

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