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  1. Best put by Jamey Newberg (

    He’s streaky. He’s undisciplined. He’s brittle, if not unreliable.
    He can be, as he’s reminded us, “very deceptive, very sneaky in a lot of ways” when he wants. His unpredictability is completely predictable. It’s him, Josh, it’s gonna be something weird.
    He’s deeply flawed to the point at which he’s an unusually risky long-term proposition.
    And I wanted him back here.
    But not at any cost.

    Comment by stanley — December 14, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

  2. I think it was Ben Lindberg over at BP who showed that Hamilton is likely to struggle more offensively as he ages than an average slugger, given his propensity for swings and misses. People with good strike zone recognition don’t have to “cheat” as much with their swings to compensate for lost bat speed.

    Comment by Dan Rozenson — December 14, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  3. glad the yankees did not get him

    Comment by bballstatswhiz — December 14, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  4. This is where sabrmetrics utterly fails in its analysis, ignoring contextual factors. Anyone that has watched Josh’s entire career at the plate knows that the contact rate for 2012 was almost solely due to a new approach for him. His ability to make contact hasn’t changed at all, he is still a supreme talent at the plate with some of the best batspeed in the game. Josh was pushing for a big payday and the best way to do that is hit homers. He knew it, his agent knew it, everyone in MLB knew it. This is not a case of Adam Dunn, where he simply was out of shape the entire season and couldn’t make contact if he wanted.

    Josh did struggle with adjustments after pitchers got wise to the fact he was clobbering balls early in the count. He also looked worn out by the end of the season physically, which led to the infamous problems in the outfield and possibly the final 50 at-bats.

    I believe without the pressure of performing for a contract and the issues he left behind in Texas (which did not support him publicly at all in 2012 and did everything possible to drive down his free agent value), the Angels will be getting the 2008-2011 version of Josh. Nolan Ryan has no one to blame but himself for Josh leaving the Rangers.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — December 14, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

  5. Tony Batista disagrees that bad players don’t hit 40 home runs

    Comment by Brendan — December 14, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  6. “there’s a reason this decision was apparently made over Jerry Dipoto‘s head.”

    I am curious about this suggestion. Are you saying this because the signing conflicts with statements he made the day before coupled with Arte and John Carpino visiting Hamilton at his home?

    Comment by Saxon — December 14, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  7. It wasn’t just a intentional contract strategy that pushed up Hamilton’s swinging strike rate, unless Josh is an incredibly long range thinker. His swinging strike percentage is up mostly due to his OSwing% rising. Here is Hamilton’s OSwing% , and Swinging strike rate for his entire career:

    Season O-Swing% SwStr%
    2007 26.90% 11.50%
    2008 34.70% 14.00%
    2009 36.00% 15.50%
    2010 37.30% 13.30%
    2011 41.00% 13.60%
    2012 45.40% 20.00%

    You don’t need excel to tell you that there is a very robust correlation between his OSwing % and his swinging strike rate (it’s .79).

    The question is why is his OSwing% going up, and is it reversible? Is it because he is being more aggressive, or because his pitch recognition is getting worse, or have pitchers adjusted to him and started throwing him more of the kinds of pitches he can’t lay off of?

    Comment by Kazinski — December 14, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  8. I was thinking the same thing from the Mariners’ perspective. The Yanks have a larger margin for error than the M’s do.

    Comment by jwise224 — December 14, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  9. Seriously, if scouts didn’t agree with Sabermetrics, Hamilton would have been signed a long time ago with a larger contract. A huge amount of front offices disagree with your thought that Hamilton’s last year was an anomaly.

    Comment by Average_Casey — December 14, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  10. Looking at the stats page for Hamilton, his flyball rate climbed about 4% and his flyball to homerun rate jumped from 19 to 25% IIRC. Not watching him a lot makes me think that Hamilton started (swinging out his ass) as we called it when I played baseball in community college. When players take huge cuts every time, the strike out rate jumps and so does their power. It sounds like that may be what is going on here. I’m thinking that Hamilton got a little infatuated with crushing homeruns and decided to swing harder than he used to. It was probably on purpose since he was in a contract year and wanted more homeruns to drive up his price at the expense of strikeouts. A few years ago, this approach would have worked better since front offices weren’t as smart as they are now.

    Comment by Average_Casey — December 14, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  11. I would be most concerned about that flyball/pop up he muffed at seasons end against the A’s He simply didn’t see. It’s an N of 1, but with his light dark splits over the years, I wonder if he has a vision issue. It would be interesting to see if the Angels fortified their purchase with insurance against his physical breakdown and what the actuarial cost of that policy might have been.

    Comment by channelclemente — December 14, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  12. My understanding is this was mostly Arte Moreno. Not that Dipoto was uninvolved, of course, but this was more of an ownership call than a front-office call, I believe.

    Comment by Jeff Sullivan — December 14, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  13. What if there’s a factor that nobody has considered: that Hamilton is more valuable to the Angels than any other team?

    Let’s say that Hamilton would be a 4 win player for 2013, and is totally expected to resign with the Rangers. That makes his market value at 5 million per win, a total of 20 million dollars in value. The next best player is Nick Swisher, who we’ll project for… say 2.5 (I think he’s probably worth 3, but this’ll make my point easier). The Athletics 2012 was a fluke and they are a .500 team next year. The only two teams with a chance of winning the AL West next year are the Angels and Rangers.

    Okay, that’s a lot of assumptions, not all of which will hold but bear with me. Pretty much, that means that the ONLY thing the Angels care about is beating the Rangers. And adding 4 wins is a really good way to do that. However, by poaching Hamilton, they also TAKE away 4 wins from the Rangers. Even if the Rangers sign Nick Swisher, they still lose 1.5 wins in the process. That makes the Hamilton signing a 5.5 win swing, increasing his value to 27.5 million, which makes his deal a slight profit for the Angels.

    Comment by Ghoul — December 14, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  14. It’s not a zero sum game though. You’re not taking away 4 wins from the Rangers and that’s it because they can fill Hamilton’s spot on their roster and in their lineup and you’re not just adding 4 wins because you’re replacing a different starter with Hamilton.

    If you project Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin platoon (not saying that’s what is going to happen, just makes the most sense with the current roster) to get about 3 WAR, which seems fair and you project Peter Bourjous at 3 WAR, again, seems fair to me then the Angels added 1 win to their roster and took 1 win away from the Rangers and are paying $25 million to do it.

    Now, of course, the off season is not over. The Angels could turn Bourjous and change into a 2.5 win starter but as of right now, this seems like a 2-3 win swing at best for the Angels.

    Comment by Marcus Andrews — December 14, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

  15. When I saw the article title, I had a feeling it would be about strikeouts, but with the writer I honestly expected something about the Seattle Mariners pretending to be interested in Hamilton and then feigning distress when his agent didn’t even give them a call.

    I don’t think the Mariners FO is as bad as venomous and avaricious as the Marlins, but at least the Marlins can evaluate talent. Zduriencik is one part Jeffrey Loria’s smoke and mirrors and one part Dayton Moore’s incompetence.

    Comment by Stormin'Norman — December 14, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  16. I never said it was a perfect comparison, only that it is an additional factor.

    I even assumed that the Rangers use some of the money they would have spent on Hamilton on Swisher.

    It’s one of many factors that you could use to evaluate the deal. It’s far from the only or even the most relevant.

    Comment by Ghoul — December 14, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

  17. The point of the article was that other players with this approach do not succeed, ergo, whether intentional or not, it likely wouldn’t work again. So it wasn’t probably a good way to bank on a payday, and anyway, if it is the best thing to do, as you say, one would just think he’ll do it again–and fail.

    Comment by bjoak — December 14, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

  18. Good article.

    I know there isn’t a stat for quitting chewing tobacco (if there was I suppose it would be called O-Dip) but does anyone think that could have played a role in his decline in performance after his torrid start?

    Personally, I think it’s a possibility that his quitting chewing tobacco played a part but probably just a little. He’s getting older and, even though I’m an Angel fan, I just am not enthusiastic about the signing (especially the final 2-3 years of the contract).

    Comment by Travis — December 14, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  19. You’re also not accounting for the loss of Tori Hunter who was more valuable than Hamilton last year, nor of all the other ways the teams changed. Baseball is a lot more complex than tacking on some wins.

    Comment by bjoak — December 14, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  20. Even if a 94-win team is a fluke, that makes it an 88-90 win team–not a 500 or sub 500 team.

    Comment by John Smith — December 14, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

  21. “At least one person is probably worried that Hamilton could morph into a butterfly and then what would the Angels do with a $25-million butterfly?”

    I wasn’t until I read this article.

    Comment by Tim — December 15, 2012 @ 3:09 am

  22. Ironically, Morgan Ensberg had the best season of his career in 2005 when his contract rate declined so much. Ensberg was the MVP of an Astros team that went to the World Series, and finished in the top 3 or 4 in the NL MVP balloting that year. Ensberg went into the 2005 season, knowing that the Astros were depending on him to replace some big offensive losses in the lineup (an injured Bagwell and Beltran). Anecdotally, early in the season, Ensberg opened up his batting stance and began swinging harder than in the past, with a resulting big increase in his HR totals. That probably explains the lower contact rate.

    It’s not clear what happened to Ensberg in subsequent seasons. But he started the 2006 season much like 2005, with a string of HRs. However, he suffered a wrist injury on a fielding play a couple of months into the season, and his offense never really returned. I’m not sure that Ensberg’s path really tells us a lot about what will happen in Hamilton’s case.

    Comment by CJ in Austin, TX — December 15, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  23. Right. Also a good point. The A’s will start out with a much better team than last year: no obvious holes (assuming they land a shortstop), Anderson back, Chris Young on board. And I don’t think you can count on a ton of regression from individual players.

    The thing is that they don’t have sexy names like Josh Hamilton so people tend to discount them, but 37 home runs from their platoon at first base is what it is. Go pick on a team without a run differential like the Baltimorioles.

    Comment by bjoak — December 15, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  24. Hamilton is an incredible talent. I think he will bring good value back on this contract. Not to mention he will have absolutely incredible protection in this new lineup, if you believe in protection. It’s a bit of an overpay, maybe, but the Halos are in good position to compete the next few years and he is a great big bat. He will make any necessary adjustments and should be a force offensively for a few more years. Defensively, we will see. I really think the only question is whether or not he stays healthy, but you can ask that question of all players.

    As for the Angels, this might be 25 million to other teams, but you could probably cut the economic impact in half with their revenues in terms of the actual impact to the ownership group.

    Comment by Givejonadollar — December 15, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  25. anyone who would have watched the rangers last 50 games would not have signed josh to sell popcorn much less play bseball.. glad yall got him. thanks

    Comment by robert foster — December 15, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

  26. I love Tony Batista. He is the perfect example of how 30 HR and 100 RBI does not guarantee quality, as he managed to reach both marks while being a below-replacement-level hitter.

    Comment by Llewdor — December 16, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  27. I have concerns about any baseball player who quits tobacco, realizes its hurting his performance and doesn’t go to the store and get a can of Skoal. No one likes quitters. Get back on the dip Josh!!

    Comment by VikingArthur — December 19, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  28. The sampling size of basically one half of a season is too small to be making such predictions of decline. It is far more likely that Josh’s second half decline was due to transitory problems like is up coming contract and his quitting of tobacco. Both of these became acerbated as the pressure on him by his team and fans begen to build. He did have vision issues due to caffeine intake and he likely did become homer happy as the season wore on, but a change of teams and the security of a new contract should remove the negative pressures he was under. All in all, he is far more likely to become the hitter he has been for the last four years then Torii Hunter is to hit .350 down the stretch again.

    Comment by Dave — January 12, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  29. Hamilton can do whatever he wants with a bat. I know he will be hitting behind 2 top 5 picks in fantasy. I know the Angels could easily have 3 players exceeding a .900 OPS. I know Hamilton hit just as good on the road as he did at home last year. He is simply an elite player, on an elite offensive team. His 2nd half struggles were the best thing that could’ve happened, because if he had kept up his first half pace, he would’ve been the number 1 or 2 overall pick. He will be available at a relative discount, which doesn’t normally happen to guys that hit 43 HRS/128 RBIS.

    Comment by sboston — February 10, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

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