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Rangers Center Fielder Josh Hamilton
The numbers don’t support the idea that players tend to perform better in their contract years. Yes, many players take their off-season preparation more seriously leading up to a contract year, but there’s no evidence to suggest that the more serious approach consistently results in players having a better season.
Much was made of the relapse Hamilton had with his well-documented battle with drug and alcohol addiction this off-season. However, since reemerging in the Majors in 2008, injuries, and not personal demons, have been the only thing preventing Hamilton from putting together a monster season.
Even during a 2010 season during which he played in only 135 games, Hamilton did enough over that time to win the American League MVP.
The Rangers organization has gone above and beyond and reasonable expectation of team loyalty in supporting Hamilton through out his career, and the player has shown appreciation for that. He also recognizes that this is still a business, and that he owes it to himself and to his family to put himself in the best position possible to get one last big contract before his career ends.
If Hamilton has a career year, it’ll be due to good health, not some spell cast by the walk year Gods. I have a feeling that after all he’s gone through, he will manage to play at least 145 games for the first time since 2008. Whether or not the Rangers decide to reward him for that beyond this year is another discussion for another day.