Josh Hamilton: 2014 Los Angeles Angels Year in Review


The Los Angeles Angels shocked the world when, on December 15th, 2012, the team inked outfielder Josh Hamilton to a mega deal worth$123 million over five seasons. There had been no inkling that the Angels were players in the Hamilton market prior to the signing, with the team’s biggest need that winter cited as pitching.

The move proved two-fold. It plucked Hamilton’s heavy bat out of the hands of the division rival Texas Rangers, and the thought was that he would provide a left-handed compliment to Albert Pujols in the middle of the Angels batting order, perhaps even on par with the Manny Ramirez/David Ortiz combo of the early 2000’s in Boston.

Well, dreams of grandeur weren’t necessarily fulfilled, and Hamilton’s presence in the Angels line-up hasn’t exactly been as fruitful as one would have hoped given the size of the contract handed to the former American League Most Valuable Player (2010).

The Good:

To be completely honest, it is tough to find some good to discuss in regards to Josh Hamilton’s 2014 campaign. Sporadic time in the line-up lead to mediocre results on the field, with Hamilton approximating his 2013 campaign (.250/.307/.432, 21 HR, 79 RBI) over the course of a 89 game schedule this season (.263/.331/.414, 10 HR, 44 RBI). For every 3-RBI game Hamilton would produce (5), there would be a regression to offset it, with the outfielder taking two golden sombreros (4 strike-outs in a game) and 12 games of 3 strike-outs or more. On the good side, the Angels were 55-33 in games that Hamilton started, so there’s that.

The Bad:

As mentioned above, Josh Hamilton struggled mightily with the strike-out in 2014, with his 28.3% K-Rate being the single highest of his Major League career. However, the biggest concern for the Angels and Hamilton was the  multitude of nagging injuries that limited the outfielder to just 89 games on the season and was the likely culprit in his sapped power (.151 ISO, 11.0% HR/FB).

Ultimately, Hamilton dealt with injuries the entire season, from thumb ligaments and hyperextended fingeres to knee strains, to general soreness in the shoulder, neck, and back. The outfielder required 12 cortisone shots in the shoulder and neck over the course of the final month of the season just to get himself on the field in time to help down the stretch and in the ALDS.

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The Future:

Injuries concerns were heavily discussed by many teams when evaluating Josh Hamilton prior to his signing with the Angels. While he made it through the 2013 campaign relatively unscathed on the health front, 2014 did not bear the same. Hamilton will be 34-years-old in May, which won’t help belay those feelings in any way and the injuries will bear watching throughout the rest of his contract.

This is where the Angels’ decision to heavily backload Hamilton’s contract will come back to haunt them. In 2015, his deal rises to $25 million for the season and escalates to $32 million per year over the course of 2016 and 2017. Considering that FanGraphs had Hamilton worth a TOTAL of $16 million combined for the first two seasons with Los Angeles, that is a disturbing amount of money to be locked into. Additionally, it makes him completely immovable without the team eating a tremendous amount of money.

For now, that means the Angels have to hope that the outfielder rebounds from this latest bout if injuries and approached his former production levels. He’s done it once before, playing just 89 games in 2010 and putting up a similar batting line (.268/.315/.426, 10 home runs, 54 RBI) before claiming the league MVP award the next year.

We’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope that is in the cards after a winter of rest.