Josh Hamilton talk: Popularity

Editor's Note: This is the fourth of a five-part series looking at the issues surrounding Josh Hamilton and free agency as it pertains to the Texas Rangers.

Today's topic: Popularity

We've looked at what a contract offer for Hamilton might look like and how he's done in terms of health and at the plate. But what about his popularity?

That topic does matter when you consider the overall picture of Hamilton and what he means to not only the Rangers, but another team. For general managers, this topic isn't important. You decide if Hamilton can help you on the field, how long you think he'll be on the field and what his overall worth is to obtain him. Whether he's popular with fans is very secondary.

But in the overall context of Hamilton as a business, it matters. Ask owners of some of the teams that might go after him and they'll wonder if getting a player with Hamilton's fame won't help them put more people in the seats. All you had to do was take a walk around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and there was never a question as to the jersey name and number you'd see the most. I'll bet even some of the people booing Hamilton down the stretch have his jersey at home somewhere.

Yu Darvish and Ian Kinsler have made runs at Hamilton in terms of popularity, but they still can't catch him. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA released a list of the top-20 selling jerseys (Majestic Athletic jerseys) since the All-Star break. Derek Jeter was No 1. Hamilton was No. 2.

Darvish ended up No. 7 on that list, but you figure that his breakout season and the fact that he's a rookie should put him high up on the list (not unlike Mike Trout, who was No. 5). Kinsler, by the way, was 14th.

But Hamilton seems to always show up on these lists near the top, no matter what. Just imagine how he'll do if he's not in a Rangers jersey in 2013. Fans will be rushing to get that one, won't they?

It's difficult to quantify what Hamilton might mean to ticket sales and sponsorships, where his 2013 club wouldn't be sharing any of those profits with other big league clubs. But it's clear that he's still a popular player and one who fans want to see. You don't know what you might see from him. Ask the Baltimore Orioles fans who were there that night in May when Hamilton hit four home runs. He has incredible athletic gifts and he's one of those athletes that fans want to see. Combine his talent with a tremendous comeback story and you have a perfect storm of popularity. We'll see how that may impact his value this offseason.