Of Josh Hamilton, contract talks and the Triple Crown
Josh Hamilton hit four home runs against the Orioles on Tuesday night and of course it was all about his contract. Was there any doubt about that being brought up again.
And again and again and again.
But general manager Jon Daniels went on national radio and told one of his industry buddies that the Rangers were talking with his agent, which combined with four home runs at Camden Yards was all anybody needed to start opining about, money, length of contract, past history and health issues.
Only six more negotiating months to go before he actually hits the free agent market.
The Rangers have been talking with Hamilton’s Mike Moye regularly and have been for months. That is nothing new but exactly where it all stands is at least being kept under wraps if nothing else.
We all know Hamilton is the best player in the American League and we all know that his annual average salary should be somewhere north of $20 million. We all know that length of contract is crucial in these discussions and we all know that the new regional television contracts have baseball officials handing out lucrative contract extensions faster than advertisers can fill up spots.
We all know Hamilton’s history and we all know that these mega-term contracts carry considerable risk. Here are the outfielders currently making at least $16 million per year: Ryan Braun, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Torii Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells, Jayson Werth, Matt Holliday, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee and Jason Bay.
Forget Josh Hamilton. How many of those guys would you rather have playing left field for the Rangers right now instead of David Murphy? Less than half would be a conservative estimate.
We all know the Rangers want Hamilton back and we believe it when he says, “I love Texas.”
So should a deal get done? Maybe, maybe not, just wait for the next radio spot or tweet from somebody who really has the inside scoop.
In the meantime, maybe something else will finally trump the glare of contract negotiations.
Maybe somebody will realize that Hamilton has a chance to do something that hasn’t been done in 45 years.
Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Red Sox in 1967 in the greatest single season by one player in the history of the game, leading the American League in batting average, hone runs and RBI. He led the league in many other categories including, no doubt the mystical, magical WAR, but batting average, home runs and RBI were big deals back then.
That gave him the Triple Crown and nobody has ever done it since. That list is quite exclusive, more so than perfect games and four-homer barrages. Only 11 players have done it since 1900 and all 11 players are in the Hall of Fame.
Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby did it twice while Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Joe Medwick, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Chuck Klein, Ty Cobb and Nap Lajoie each did it once. That’s quite a studly bunch.
As of Wednesday morning, Hamilton led everybody in batting average, home runs and RBI. By the way, his batting average is .406, which is what Williams hit in 1941 when he was the last player to hit over .400.
Can we also mention that Hamilton is currently on pace to hit 75 home runs and 194 RBI, which would be Major League single-season records. We all know Barry Bonds hit 72 home runs in 2001 but the single-season RBI record is 191 by Hack Wilson for the Cubs back in 1930.
Nah, it’s way too early to talk about Triple Crowns and single-season RBI records. We are only one month into the season. There are five more months to go in the regular season. Why bath in baseball history when it’s premature speculation.
Let’s get back to those contract negotiations. Back to you Jim.