Josh Hamilton: More than the MVP
In advance of this week's Observer column on Texas Rangers' outfielder Josh Hamilton I asked new owner Chuck Greenberg about signing his star to a new, long-term deal next winter.
"With his bat and glove and legs and arm and heart, he's our MVP and I think the best player in the game today," Greenberg said. "I certainly want to keep him a Ranger and give him and his family some long-term security."
It'll be tricky.
Hamilton's MVP season is counter-balanced by a checkered past and less-than-slam-dunk future because of lingering health issues (he played DH last night because of a still-sore right knee). Josh, still just 29, is under Texas' control for two more arbitration-eligible seasons. Do you lock him up now, or make him prove it again?
While his upside is Hall of Fame, his downside seems just a can of whipped cream away.
It will be a busy off-season as Greenberg must also deal with the expiring contracts of manager Ron Washington, Cliff Lee and Vladimir Guerrero. But I expect the owner to lock Hamilton up with a deal that will buy out at least one year of free agency. Greenberg realizes his reign, his proposed improvements at Rangers Ballpark and his team's success rely heavily on Hamilton.
But, as fans, are we already taking Josh for granted?
Until you stand next to him at his locker, you forget how big Hamilton is. At 6-4 and about 230 pounds, he's more linebacker than left fielder. Then he goes out and wins games with leaping catches into walls, with mammoth homers, and with sprints scoring from second base on an infield grounder.
His season is not just one as MVP, but one for the ages. Consider:
Hamilton has a chance to hit .360 with at least 30 homers while playing at least 1/4th of the season in center field. The only other players to do that:
Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle.
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