Ok, before anyone reading this gets too upset, Alex Rodriguez is a better baseball player than Josh Hamilton, right now.
I'm putting out the idea, that if I'm building my team up, like the Rangers are doing right now, I would rather have Hamilton on my team than A-Rod.
Argument for A-Rod
As of Thursday May 22, 2008, A-Rod is in his 15th season. He is a career .306 hitter, with 524 home runs and a .578 slugging pct. A three-time AL MVP, two-time Sliver Slugger, he has been in seven consecutive All-Star games.
Alex has proven he can play both at shortstop and third base, and stay healthy throughout an entire year. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, almost everybody's first pick in fantasy baseball, and arguably one of, if not the, greatest baseball players ever, with no major signs of slowing down any time soon.
Argument against A-Rod
If you want to sit at the captain's table on a cruise, you're going to pay. If you want to play a round of golf at Pebble Beach, you're going to pay. If you want Alex Rodriguez to play baseball for you, yep, you're going to pay.
Does that mean that a player like A-Rod is only obtainable by the few teams in baseball that have too much money...YES! Alex is 32-years old, and is dealing with a major injury for one of the few times in his career. It's not horrible, but easily could have been a lot worse. He has three years left in a contract that pays him over $27 million a year. When his current contract is up, will he be reduced to less money...HELL NO!
A-Rod is going to continue to get paid. He will be 35, looking for a three to five-year contract, at around $25 million a year. And as long as we have the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, and even Tigers, he is going to get the money that he, or more likely his agent, wants to get. Therefore, the rest of the teams out there, this includes my Rangers, cannot afford to buy a player like A-Rod.
Argument for Hamilton
Josh is in the second season of his second shot at a baseball career. He had a solid partial-season for the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, and is having a monster season for the Texas Rangers in 2008.
As of Thursday May 22, 2008, Hamilton is currently hitting .328 (second in AL), 11 HRs (second in AL), 51 RBI (Major-League leader), 63 hits (AL leader), three triples (tied for second in AL), and .599 SLG (AL leader).
A couple of days ago, Hamilton recorded his 50th RBI of the season. In doing so he became the quickest player to accomplish such a feat in American League history, even faster than A-Rod's amazing start to last season; Alex had 41 RBI on the same date in 2007.
Josh is 27-years old, which is only five years younger than Alex, but those of you who know baseball do know that most players accomplish their greatest feats and put up their best numbers in those five years.
Are the best years yet to come from Hamilton's career...HELL YES! Also, financially, Hamilton is making just slightly over $396,000 this year. So, with which player are you getting more bang for the buck?
Argument against Hamilton
The easiest to talk about here is his drug addiction that he has had to deal with early in his career. If you have never heard or read the entire, truthful story on Josh Hamilton and his addiction to drugs, then I seriously urge you to read about his story written in his own words
Assuming at this point you have read his article or already know the story, then it is easier to understand that when I say that his drug addiction is long gone in his past, I mean it. This was a tragic event that happened in a young man's life, but today is an event in which both good and bad have come from it.
The good, is that Josh now has something driving him to be a better ballplayer, and a daily fight that he wins against the addictions. The bad is simple; the years that he was struggling with the addiction are years that he lost in the Major Leagues. Years that would likely have put him in a position today that we would speak his name regularly with Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols.
As for the other negatives holding him back, Josh has had some nagging injury issues, and has yet to prove he can play a full season of baseball while staying healthy.
Alex is the better player today, and on paper, his numbers will forever be higher than Hamilton's. History will likely speak his name before saying Hamilton's. I enjoyed the three years that Alex played for my Rangers. I still cheer for him to do his best, and I hope he crushes the home-run record, whether you believe Bonds holds it or it is still Hank Aaron's.
But if I'm not one of the elite teams in baseball that has millions upon millions of dollars to spend on Alex Rodriguez, then give me Josh Hamilton. Can Hamilton become a player of A-Rod's caliber and similar payroll potential...HELL YES! So I beg of my Rangers' front office, sign him to an extension. Today, right now, before we let another great player go before their prime.
And since I have both players on my fantasy baseball team, it makes this easier to cheer for both right now.
In closing, debate this article on not just who is the better player today, but the better potential for the future, whether your team is one of the elite few teams of baseball or one of the building/re-building franchises.