Josh Hamilton & Mike Napoli: Which Impending Free Agent Will Have Better Season

Lance ReavesContributor IIIMarch 19, 2012

DETROIT - AUGUST 04:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers celebrates with Mike Napoli #25 after scoring on a triple from Michael Young #10 in the seventh inning during the game at Comerica Park on August 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Rangers defeated the Tigers 5-2.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

With the regular season only three weeks away it’s looking pretty unlikely that the Rangers will sign Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli to long term deals.

This means both will be free agents at the end of the season. It will be disappointing if deals can’t be reached, but sometimes that is just how the business side of the game works.

However, there is still this season to be played before any of that happens. I think Hamilton and Napoli will focus on winning games and not let their contract situations be a big distraction.

I think Hamilton is the player who people with look to have the better season and command a bigger contract. He has a wider variety of skills and more hardware in his trophy case.

But, this does not mean that Napoli should be overlooked. He has just as much to play for individually as Hamilton. 

Everyone knows a big knock on Hamilton is his health. He plays the game with disregard for his body, which has led to multiple stays on the disabled list. Hamilton has still put up great numbers the last couple years despite this.

In 2011, he missed over 40 games but still hit .298 with 25 homers and 94 RBI. 

Obviously, the more games he plays the bigger numbers he will put up. The problem is that his track record doesn’t really show that he can stay healthy and play 150 plus games.

Napoli had the best year of his career last season. He became a regular in the lineup and hit .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBI in 113 games. Some people might consider that a fluke year by comparing those numbers to the ones he put up with the Angels, but I don’t.

He is hitting in a better lineup at a ballpark built for home run hitters like him.

All statistics aside, I still expect bigger things from Hamilton despite his struggles to stay on the field. Napoli will face the grind once again of being a catcher in the Texas heat, but maybe by playing another 30 games or so he can replicate or even surpass his 2011 season. 

In a perfect world, both players would stay completely healthy, play 160 games and put up monster numbers. This fantasy also includes both players re-signing with Texas for a bargain price. Both scenarios seem unlikely, and it would be a shame to watch both players sign with other teams.