Scenario #1 (in no particular order): Mike Scioscia bats Pujols in the cleanup spot to protect Hamilton in the #3 spot. Much like when the San Francisco Giants signed Barry Bonds and made him hit 4th in the lineup to protect the #3 hitter in the lineup, Mike Scioscia may very well drop Albert Pujols to the #4 spot in order to protect Josh Hamilton in his new surroundings. If Scioscia does this and decides to stick with it, you can expect Josh Hamilton to absolutely dominate fantasy baseball this year.
Scanario #2: Scioscia bats Hamilton in the Cleanup spot to protect Albert Pujols. Honestly, we think Josh Hamilton can handle the pressure right out of the gates. Unlike Albert Pujols last year, Hamilton isn't making the switch from the NL to the AL. Hell, Hamilton isn't even changing divisions. Nonetheless, once Hamilton goes into one of his typical, streaky slumps where he swings at everything within radar range but forgets to make contact, he's bound to hear a solid collection of boo birds in Anaheim. Couple that with his emotional nature and he may become a (temporary) head case. If this happens, expect an average year out of Josh Hamilton, which is still a tremendous year by most fantasy baseball standards.
Scenario #3: Scioscia bats Hamilton in the 5 spot to protect Mark Trumbo or Kendrys Morales. This will likely play out a lot like the above scenario. The only question will be whether Hamilton will feel more pressure or less pressure than if he was assigned to protect Pujols. He may feel more pressure in that he'll feel like he has to do more to help Morales or Trumbo since Pujols really needs very little help. On the other hand, if he's assigned to protect Morales or Trumbo, he may feel less pressure since, after all, it's not like he's having to protect the game's best hitter in Albert Pujols. This is a tough one because it can also significantly affect his RBI production. Protecting Kendrys Morales or Mark Trumbo means that he still has to rely on them getting on base in front of him, which is a double-edged sword: if they get on base, they're prone to hitting home runs which wipes the bases clean of RBI opportunities for Hamilton; if they don't get on base, well, that means the same thing - there won't be anyone to drive home.
What do we think will happen?
"Way to go, Hamilton!"
What do we think will happen? We think that Josh Hamilton will be hitting cleanup for the Los Angeles Angels with the assignment of protecting Albert Pujols. Worst-case scenario is that opposing pitchers test Hamilton's nerve and questionable patience at the plate by walking Albert Pujols and taking their chances with Hamilton. If Hamilton doesn't come through early on in the season, and if he lets that shatter his confidence, that could be very bad for Hamilton's fantasy owners, at least in streaks.
While we don't see Josh Hamilton having a bad year, we do see the possibility of him having some week-long, horrendous streaks at the plate where he absolutely buries your fantasy team. All in all, though, we think you're safe with Josh Hamilton.
God willing that doesn't happen, Josh. If it does, we got your back, man. We'll take you to Betty Ford ourselves if we have to. Draft Josh Hamilton with all confidence this year - he's in a really good situation offensively. Just stay healthy, Josh.