From one of the biggest prospects in baseball, to being out of the league completely, to winning an MVP award, Josh Hamilton is the poster boy for an up and down career in the MLB. While he is now a solid power hitter in the majors, many people may not know about all the struggles he has gone through to get there.
Throughout high school, Hamilton excelled as both a pitcher and an outfielder. And at 6’4 200 pounds as a high school senior, he was on the radar of every major league team. As a result of his all-around game, he was widely considered one of the best prospects on the planet ahead of the 1999 MLB draft. On draft day, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays owned the number one overall pick, and used it on Hamilton.
He began in the minors and his career got off to a good start, but just ahead of the 2001 MLB season is when he began his tailspin. It was around this time when he began to hang around a tattoo parlor, which is where he began to experiment with drugs and alcohol. From 2001-2004, Hamilton failed numerous drugs tests and was suspended for two separate entire seasons for his drug use and failing tests. As a result, he took the next three years off to get clean, but once he tried to make a return in 2006, he was subsequently suspended for the entire season another time for a relapse. He was eventually put on waivers, and no team claimed him, even though it would have only cost them around $20,000. His career looked to be over without even getting a major league debut.
But he would eventually make that debut in 2007 for the Cincinatti Reds and actually had a pretty good year, but was subsequently traded to the Texas Rangers following the season. Immediately, he would make a difference to that team. In 2008, his first season after the trade, he was an all-star game starter and finished top 10 in MVP voting. However, in 2009, an injury and relapse allowed him to have a down year and many people thought he was back to his old ways and would soon fizzle out of the league, but boy, did he ever prove them wrong.
In 2010, he came back with a vengeance. He hit a league leading .359, as well as hitting 32 home runs and over 100 RBI. These great stats, as well as leading his team deep into the playoffs, Josh Hamilton was awarded with the 2010 AL MVP. Since then, he has continued to play well and was even rewarded with a $125 Million contract to join the Angels. He has largely been clean since the 2009 relapse, but unfortunately admitted in early 2015 that he did in fact relapse with alcohol and cocaine once again.
Here’s hoping that Hamilton can hold it together and continue to experience success in his major league career.