Is Josh Hamilton Worth The Risk?

After the 2008 season Josh Hamilton became all the rage for fantasy baseball owners and why not?  He was coming off a year where he hit .304 with 32 HR and 130 RBI.  Just one year later, however, things have taken a complete 180.  After staying healthy for all of 2008, injuries once again reared their head, limiting his ability to produce, leading to the following line:

336 At Bats
.268 Batting Average (90 Hits)
10 Home Runs
54 RBI
43 Runs
8 Stolen Bases
.315 On Base Percentage
.426 Slugging Percentage
.324 Batting Average on Balls in Play

What You Need To Know:

  • His current ADP is around 53, making him a fifth round draft pick in standard, 12-team mixed leagues.
  • He looked very good in his one full month (August) when, in 29 games, he hit .342 with 1 HR, 17 RBI and 10 R.
  • His flyball rate was up significantly, from 32.9% to 41.8%.  That helps to explain some of his average decrease, as flyballs are less likely to fall in (he also struck out more, from 20.2% to 23.5%).
  • His HR/FB was cut in half, from 19.2% to 9.2%, a huge concern when you factor in his back issues from ’09.
  • Vladimir Guerrero’s presence should help offer more protection than he had last season.
  • His walks were down significantly (9.1% to 6.6%), which hurt his ability to score runs.

2010 Projection:
.280 (140-500), 24 HR, 85 RBI, 80 R, 8 SB, .317 BABIP, .341 OBP, .488 SLG

Final Thoughts:
He’s not likely to be as good as he was in ’08, but he’s also not going to be as bad as he was in ’09.  Assuming he can stay healthy, I’m basically expecting him to come in somewhere in between the two seasons.

Is that worthy of a fifth round pick?  Not in my book.  It’s way too risky because the truth is, you just don’t know what you are going to get.  Was 2008 an aberration?  Is 2009 his actual ability?  There’s too much risk there for me to invest that high of a draft choice.

What about you?  Do you think Hamilton is worth such an early draft pick?  Why or why not?

If you would like to see a free preview of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (available for just $5), click here.

Make sure to check out some of our 2010 projections, including:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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5 comments

  1. Aaron says:

    I might take a flyer on him in the 5th depending on who else is around, but i’d feel much more comfortable in the 6th or 7th.

  2. BJP says:

    Would you take him over guys like Markakis, Lind and Ethier? I don’t think I would.

  3. gtown1479 says:

    I am so scared of him this year. I am choosing between him and Carlos Gonzalez. I know Hamilton as of now is probably the better player but who the heck knows if he can even play 120 games. I have upside with CarGo but who knows if he does it immediately this year. Good chance he takes a step back.

    I would def take Lind, Markakis and Ethier over Hamilton.

    Great article.

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    For me, those three are significantly better options than Hamilton for 2010. I have all three in the Top 11. Don’t get caught up with Hamilton’s one big season, he’s a huge risk and shouldn’t be considered a #1 outfielder in my book.

  5. Dennis D says:

    Hamilton struggled in 09 with injuries. I don’t think 2008 was a fluke and will take him in the 2nd or 3rd round

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