Texas Rangers: 5 Reasons Josh Hamilton Deserves a Huge Raise
Hamilton is a free agent this winter and is in line for a huge, much deserved, new contract. If the Rangers wish to re-sign him, they will have to dole out the cash.
A third of the way through the season, "The Natural" is leading the American League in almost every major offensive category, and has helped Texas get off to one of the best starts in baseball.
However, questions still linger in the Rangers organization about Hamilton's long-term durability and contract talks have stalled.
He might not have a new deal, but Hamilton has proven that he is a special player and his deal will reflect that this offseason—whether it's with the Rangers or another team.
So, here are five reasons that Hamilton is deserving of a huge pay raise when he hits the open market this offseason.
He Could Be the First Triple Crown Winner in 45 Years
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When Carl Yastrzemski earned the Triple Crown for the Boston Red Sox in 1967, Hamilton was still 14 years away from being born.
But now, 45 years after Yaz accomplished the feat, Hamilton has a real shot at hitting for the Triple Crown.
A little over a third of the way through the season, Hamilton leads the American League in two of the three Triple Crown categories. He is first in RBI with 61, home runs with 22 and only trails Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox in batting average.
Hitting for the Triple Crown is rare. But if there is any player in baseball with the tools to do it, it would be Hamilton.
He has great bat control and can drive the ball to all fields from every part of the zone. Hamilton also has easy power, which allows him to keep his average up despite hitting as many homers as he does.
In addition, Hamilton has the benefit of playing for the best offense in baseball. This gives him numerous opportunities to drive in runs, which he has taken advantage of and done at a prolific rate this season.
Baseball has not seen a Triple Crown winner in over four decades, but Hamilton has the potential to break that streak.
He Is Severely Underpaid Compared to Other Stars
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Hamilton may be the best player in baseball this season, but he sure isn't paid like it.
Actually, there are 51 players that make more money than the $13.75 million he is bringing in this season.
Here are a few studs whose contracts exceed Hamilton’s this season: Jason Bay who is making $16 million to go along with his .226 batting average, Torii Hunter whose $16 million dollar contract makes him the third-best player in his own outfield for the Los Angeles Angels and Vernon Wells whose $21 million dollar deal for the Angels actually makes Hunter's contract look good to LA fans.
Hamilton is not even the highest-paid player on the Rangers' roster. Adrian Beltre and Michael Young both make more than Hamilton this season. While both of those players are having excellent seasons, neither can approach what Hamilton has done thus far.
Hamilton is too good of a player to be playing under a one-year arbitration deal. He deserves a long-term contract.
He has better numbers than every position player ahead of him on the highest paid list, and he is younger than the majority of them, as well.
It is only reasonable that he should jump to near the top of this list in 2013 when he begins his new contract.
He Is a Rare All-Around Talent
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There are only a handful of five-tool players in baseball. Josh Hamilton is one of them.
His ability to excel in every aspect of the game was a big reason he was the No.1 pick in the 1999 draft. Those same tools are the reason he was able to come back and shine despite his years of struggle with addiction and time away from the game.
Hamilton is the definition of a five-tool player. He has the speed to cover the expansive space in center field with an easy grace and has a career .986 fielding percentage there. He also keeps runners honest with his superior arm strength and accurate touch from range.
At the plate, Hamilton has the ability to drive the ball to all fields and sports a career .311 batting average and .369 on-base percentage.
Power is perhaps his most evident tool. Hamilton blasts moonshot home runs and drives the majority of them to left and right center, the deepest parts of the park. Hamilton displayed his prolific clout when he hit four homers in one game against the Baltimore Orioles earlier this season.
Few players have all of these skills, and fewer can put them all together. Many of the greats of the game shared the same abilities that Hamilton puts on display every night, and any team would benefit from adding him to their roster.
All 30 teams can do so this offseason. They only have to pay him like one of the best to take advantage of his array of talents.
He Is a Fan Favorite and Puts People in the Seats
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Hamilton is one of the most popular players in baseball. He hits majestic home runs and quickly became a fan favorite when he came to Texas in 2008.
Actually, the rise of the Rangers goes hand in hand with the meteoric rise of Hamilton. Since he came to the club, the Rangers won two division titles and have been to two straight World Series.
Hamilton has also helped put baseball on the map in the football crazed DFW area. The Rangers aren’t on a Dallas Cowboys level of popularity yet, but they’ve established baseball as the area's second-most popular sport
The Rangers are seeing that this jump in popularity directly correlates at the box office.
In 2008, Texas drew just under two million fans; in 2011 it drew just under three million. To top that off, the Rangers are on pace to shatter attendance records this season, and could reach the three million tickets sold mark for the first time in team history.
Hamilton also had the fourth-most popular selling jersey in baseball last season, behind only the likes of Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols.
If you need more proof of his acclaim with the baseball faithful, just glance at the All-Star voting this year—you'll find that Hamilton is leading all players in fan balloting.
Hamilton is one of the most prevalent players in the game. He is the type of player that fans pay to see and the Rangers have reaped the benefits.
So, isn't it about time he was rewarded for everything he has brought to the organization?
He Is Irreplaceable in the Middle of the Rangers’ Lineup
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Hamilton hits No. 3 in the Rangers' lineup—the heart of the order. He sends his teammates home at a rapid rate and sets them up just as often.
His production in the middle of the lineup in unmatched and that is evident by his wins above replacement number of 3.3, which is tied for first in the AL in 2012.
This means that Hamilton has added 3.3 more wins than a player replacing him would have, so far this season. As close as the playoff races in baseball are every season, even a seemingly inconsequential number of wins like three can be the difference between a division title and second place.
The WAR stat is perhaps the most telling of a player's worth. It directly correlates to how many wins a player adds to a team in a season, and there is no statistic more important than victories.
Hamilton has been near the top of the rankings in this statistic year in and year out, and was first in the AL during his 2010 MVP season.
Hamilton is irreplaceable in the middle of the Rangers' order. Pitchers pitch around him, which allows his teammates to see better pitches. He drives in runs at a torrid pace and the amount of times he circles the bases is always near the top of the MLB.
There is no player more important to the Rangers in the wins and losses column, and if the Rangers wish to keep him this offseason, they will have to pay their MVP his real worth.