Rapid Reaction: Josh Hamilton leaves Texas
December, 13, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Josh Hamilton has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Angels, leaving the Texas Rangers after five years filled with memorable moments on and off the field.
What it means: The Rangers lose their No. 3 hitter and a left-handed slugger. He was a force in the middle of a right-handed heavy lineup and one of the club's top run producers. For all of his ups and downs, Hamilton had 43 homers and 128 RBIs in 2012. That's not going to be easy to replace.
Hamilton had 142 homers and 506 RBIs during his five-year Ranger career. He hit .305 in that span with a .912 OPS. Hamilton won the AL MVP Award in 2010, hitting .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs despite missing nearly all of September with cracked ribs. He was a critical component of the club's back-to-back AL championship runs in 2010 and 2011.
Outfield impact: As it's constructed now, the Rangers' outfield consists of David Murphy in left field, a possible platoon of Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin in center and Nelson Cruz in right. Texas could look at trade options, though the biggest name on the trade block was Justin Upton. Arizona GM Kevin Towers said this week that it's "highly unlikely" the Diamondbacks would trade him, but you never know.
AL West gets tougher: Not only is Hamilton gone, but he signed with a division rival. This is the second consecutive offseason that a major contributor from the Rangers signed with the Angels (C.J. Wilson last year). That's a potent lineup with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and now Josh Hamilton. In his career at Angel Stadium, he has a .260 batting average with five homers and 19 RBIs in 150 at-bats. He has a .765 OPS there.
“They were a great team on paper beforehand. They’re a great team on paper now," Daniels said Thursday. "They’re going to be very good."
Injuries: One big obstacle to Hamilton getting an even longer-term deal than the one he agreed to from the Angels was his health. Hamilton played 148 games lats season, his highest total since 2008 (when he played 156). It was only the second time he'd played in more than 133 games in a season. In fact, Hamilton has averaged 123 games in his five seasons. While in Texas, he's had a variety of ailments including knee inflammation, strained hamstrings, lower back stiffness, fractured shoulder, cracked ribs, torn adductors and ocular kerotitis. For this deal to work out for the Angels, Hamilton must stay healthy.
Celebration change: This is a random observation, but assuming the Rangers get a chance in the next few years to pop champagne in celebration of a playoff berth or series win, will they still have a Ginger Ale/water bath to start things off? That came about because of Hamilton and former teammate C.J. Wilson. Both are now in Los Angeles. Perhaps the Angels will start that now.
Welcome back: It won't take long for Rangers fans to see Hamilton in an Angels uniform. The club plays them in the home-opening series, April 5-7. Unlike last year, when Wilson didn't return until May, the league has the AL West rivals getting things started early.