Yesterday afternoon, I was reading all about Josh Hamilton’s quotes on Dallas-Fort Worth baseball fans. So it got me thinking: How valuable has he been over the last few years compared to the Cleveland Indians’ most recent free agent splash of an outfielder?
Hamilton, who turns 32 in May, has played 737 very-flashy career MLB games since breaking out with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. He just signed a 5-year, $125 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels that was pretty highly criticized at the time.
Michael Bourn won’t turn 31 years old until December. He also is relatively youthful in MLB experience for his age — he’s only played 871 games after making his debut in 2006 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He just surprisingly locked up with the Indians for a guaranteed 4 years and $48 million.
So let’s look at their respective last four seasons, since the start of 2009:
Obviously, when you take away health/durability concerns, Hamilton is a likely better WAR player per game. But that’s a huge risk for signing a player with Hamilton’s much-explored history. And, as I’ve discussed in emails with Jon, WAR/162 is intriguing in theory, but doesn’t really add a whole lot to the table.
So who would you rather have? The more volatile, more injury-prone, more big market/big personality older player who is hugely dependent upon his bat to produce any sort of beneficial value? Or the younger, more consistent quiet player who just happened to recently sign a very cost-effective deal ($77 million less) with the Cleveland baseball team? It’s sort of a rhetorical question.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.