Josh Hamilton over Prince Fielder: Better Fit for Texas Rangers

Chris HummerAnalyst IJanuary 22, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers bats during Game Seven of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 28, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When Josh Hamilton came to the Texas Rangers from Cincinnati via trade he was a project, a player full of talent but with a past that even the most optimistic of us would stay away from.

Since that point Hamilton has become the face of the Rangers franchise, an MVP, and a light to those who have struggled with drug addiction in the past.

Now there is talk of the Rangers signing Prince Fielder, which for Rangers fans sounds great. They would get one of the biggest bats in baseball, and it would address the only real weak spot in their lineup, making their already potent offense potentially one of the most dangerous of all-time.

However, that would be for the short term. To sign Fielder it would take 20 million dollars a year for five or six years at the minimum. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that much of the Rangers core is due up for a contract extension within the next couple of years: Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz, Derek Holland, and Neftali Feliz, among others, and if you sign Fielder it would be hard to keep all of those players together.

Not to be forgotten is Hamilton, whose contract runs out at the end of this season, and when it does Hamilton will require Fielder-type money to resign, which is where the problem lies for the Rangers.

For a team that is already pushing the 100 million dollar mark for its team salary cap, adding two players at close to 20 million dollars a year would be impossible.

So who do you choose if you’re the Rangers general management? Hamilton, the face of your franchise, or Fielder, the star slugger who seemingly swings with every ounce of strength he has on every pitch.

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 16:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 16, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Both have their advantages. Hamilton is the definition of a five tool player, is a gold glove outfielder and if healthy will hit .300, 30 home runs, and 100 RBI's every season. Plus he is a great person in the community and Ranger fans adore him.

Working against him, however, is his injury history. He has only played over 150 games one time in his career. Along those lines there is also no real way of telling if his drug history will catch up to him, and break his body down before its time.

Fielder is just as dangerous a hitter as Hamilton. He has prolific power and has averaged 38 dingers a year in his six full seasons in the league. He is also an RBI machine and has one of the best on base percentages in baseball at .390 for his career.

But Fielder has his issues. He is an average defensive first baseman at best, and even if the Rangers give him time at DH you can't afford to give a DH that much money per season to only play one aspect of the game.

Fielder is also a very large human being. He is 5'11'' and a whopping 275 pounds, with meaty arms that look like the size of your average tire rims.

While that size has aided Fielder's power early on, there is a history of players that large breaking down early and the last thing the Rangers need is to be on the books for eight years for a player that will only give you half of that contract.

So if you’re the Rangers, the decision comes down to this. Do who want an exciting, powerful first baseman that is built like a battering ram, but a ram that could break down at any time. Or do you want one of the most skilled players of his generation, a great player both offensively and defensively. A player that has helped bring your franchise to the heights it has recently reached, but at the same time could also break down at any minute.

For the Rangers, the answer should still be Hamilton. Both carry risk, but Hamilton is an all-around player that helps in all aspects of the game. Plus, he is a player that carries meaning in the community, and if you’re the Rangers you have a great thing there. So as the old adage goes, "why fix what aint broke?"