Josh Hamilton has an intriguing life story, but this next chapter will make things interesting in the world of Major League Baseball. He hit the free agent market for the first time in his career following the 2012 season, and he was allowed to choose his team and his price. He chose the Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim, who signed him today for 5 years at $125 million. Hamilton is a polarizing player; at his best, he is one of the best pure hitters in the game, but at his worst, off the field conduct could be detrimental to a team. The Angels will be getting a lot on their plate, but if he can bring his monster home run swing with him, they will instantly move a lot closer to contending.
Since joining the Texas Rangers Major League club in 2008, Hamilton has been one of the best run producers in the game, failing to reach 25 HR and 94 RBI in only an injury plagued 2009 season. In 2010, he won the MVP after posting a 1.044 OPS, putting him at tops in the league. His ability to take over the inside half of the plate was evident all season, and can be seen in the graphic below.
As you can see, Hamilton crushed the ball inside that year, but there is more to the story. His ability to hit pitches on the outside for power was significantly less, which pitchers began to notice. In 2010, pitchers focused on the outside corner, but after his big season, since 2011, pitchers have been moving the ball further away from him, yielding mixed results.
At first, Hamilton struggled, seeing his ability to hit for extra bases diminish, but in 2012, he adjusted his swing and shifted his power stroke to cover the entire strike zone.
If the Angels get the 2012 version of Hamilton, who has the ability to cover the whole plate with his power swing, he may be worth every penny of the deal he signed. Putting aside his background, Hamilton has the pure ability to be the best hitter in all of baseball, and if he goes to LA and keeps his mind solely focused on baseball, he could be one of the best free agent sluggers to sign with a new team in recent years.