For the entirety of Josh Hamilton‘s major league career, he’s been regarded as an elite fantasy option. For a player with only a little stolen base potential, I find it interesting that he’s earned this reputation despite some non-stellar power totals. It’s the “What if he stays healthy?” potential that intrigues everyone.
That changed last year as Hamilton hit 43 homers, 11 more than his previous career high. Was the improvement fluky? Not really. It’s clear Hamilton did what just about every player does in a contract year: He tried to up his power totals. His fly ball rate jumped from the 36.3% and 37.3% marks where it resided in 2010 and 2011, respectively, to 41.1%, and his strikeout rate jumped to 25.5% from his usual 18-19%. Hamilton tried to hit homers, and he succeeded.
Now with the Angels, Hamilton loses out on the benefits of the Ballpark in Arlington, but he gets to hit at the heart of a more dangerous lineup. While the batters following him aren’t anything super spectacular, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols will provide him with plenty of RBI chances. For my money, expect his approach to return to what we saw before last season.
At a Glance
- Strengths: R, HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS
- Neutral: SB, net SB
- Weaknesses: health
- Best-case scenario: Miguel Cabrera (DET)
- Likely scenario: Robinson Cano (NYY), Adam Jones (BAL), Prince Fielder (DET)
- Worst-case scenario: Matt Holliday (STL) or hurt
Josh Hamilton 2013 Fantasy Projection
On the one hand it’s hard to just completely disregard what Hamilton did last year and pencil him in for another .300/32/110 season. Secretly, that’s what I really want to do, but we’ll need to see a few weeks of play before we can truly know if Hamilton is going to go back to the balanced, higher-contact approach he used during his first four seasons or stick with the power-first, strikeouts-aren’t-bad-if-they-mean-more-homers approach 2012 brought.
Regardless, Hamilton will be a productive outfielder and a top-20 player who could crack the top five or 10 if he can stay on the field. That’s never a given with any player, but it’s especially concerning for Hamilton, who played in just 343 of a possible 486 games from 2009-2011.