Josh Hamilton: Adding Prolific Slugger Doesn't Make Angels Favorites in AL

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 27:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 27, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When news broke that Josh Hamilton was taking his talents to Anaheim, the baseball world sat with mouths open in a state of shock and awe, able to muster only two words: "Oh my."

It's a valid response when you think about what the Angels' projected lineup now looks like with Hamilton on board (click here for power rankings of all 30 MLB lineups):

Projected Lineup Position Bats
Mike Trout CF R
Erick Aybar SS S
Albert Pujols 1B R
Josh Hamilton LF L
Kendrys Morales DH S
Mark Trumbo RF R
Howie Kendrick 2B R
Alberto Callaspo 3B S
Chris Iannetta C R

Hamilton, who signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels on Thursday as reported by ESPN (via Twitter), joins forces with the reigning AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to comprise one of the most prolific trios in the game.

How prolific?

From the Twitter account of ESPN's SportsCenter:

Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout all ranked in top 15 of the AL last season in HR and OPS. #StackedLineup

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 13, 2012

More, from the Twitter account of ESPN's Numbers Never Lie:

Last season, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout combined for 103 HR, 316 RBI, and 64 SB. #Angels #NewBigThree

— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) December 13, 2012

Throw in the other six members of the Angels' starting nine and it's easy to see why many believe Hamilton's arrival clearly makes the Angels the cream of the crop in the American League.

Not so fast.

A prolific offense can atone for many flaws on a team, but not all of them.

While the Angels have as good a one-two combination atop their starting rotation as anyone with perennial Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the rest of the starting rotation leaves much to be desired.

Tommy Hanson, once thought to be the future ace of the Atlanta Braves, has battled injuries in each of the past two years and had fallen out of favor with the Braves, who were happy to deal him in exchange for a reliever, Jordan Walden.

Hanson has significant upside, but he's far from a sure thing and asking him to effectively replace Zack Greinke in the Angels' rotation is asking too much.

After Hanson, you have Joe Blanton, who has surrendered at least 27 home runs for three consecutive seasons and hasn't pitched to an ERA under 4.70 since 2009.

Rounding out the rotation is unproven 24-year-old Garrett Richards, who has posted a 4.66 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 12 career starts for the Angels while being moved between the rotation and bullpen in both of his major league seasons.

The Angels' starting rotation provides more questions than answers, and that's why, despite having as prolific an offense as there is in the game, the Angels remain behind the Detroit Tigers as the cream of the crop in the American League.