Jobu reviews Josh Hamilton’s candidacy for the AL MVP.
I know I have previously said that the Angels’ Mike Trout might be the most all-around talented player in the league, and that Miguel Cabrera might be the best hitter, but I think Josh Hamilton takes the pole when it comes to being an intimidating presence. Is there ever a situation where you want to face this guy? I mean seriously. Hamilton’s raw power and hitting ability already won him one MVP, in 2010, but are they good enough to get him a second award for his increasingly crowding mantle? It’s possible.
Hamilton has a lot of things going for him in this race. For one, he plays for a first place team. You can’t say enough about how much making the playoffs seems to help players win this award. As of press time, Hamilton’s Texas Rangers hold a five game lead on the Oakland A’s in the AL West, and seemed poised to enter the playoffs for the third straight season. That’s something Trout and Miguel Cabrera, two of our other favorites, cannot boast.
Secondly, and most importantly, Hamilton has all the numbers. The big lefty is hitting .288/.358/.585 with 43 HR and 127 RBI. The 43 Homers currently tops the American League (although Cabrera is tied at 43 too), and the 127 RBI are good enough for second in the league. No one can deny that he has helped power this devastating Rangers’ lineup to a great season. I know Derek Jeter is hitting over 30 points higher than is Big Josh, but 43 HR and 127 RBI are some serious numbers.
There are a couple of things that could actually hurt Hamilton in his chase though. For one, he hasn’t been anywhere near as good in the second half as he was in the first. Through the first month, Hamilton was hitting .395/.438/.744. He kept it up in May, hitting .344/.405/.781 and mashing 12 home runs. The wheels came off in June and july though, as Hamilton hit .223/.318/.436 and .177/.253/.354 respectively, and combined for 8 homers and only 27 RBI. After picking it up in August (.310/.368/.575), his average has dipped into the .230s in September, and he only managed 15 RBI. If it wasn’t for August, Hamilton’s second half would be a lot less impressive. Luckily for him, it hasn’t cost the Rangers any significant ground in the standings, but it could have.
Secondly, and more importantly, Hamilton might not be the most valuable hitter on his own team. Adrian Beltre has been absolutely mashing the ball all season long too. While Hamilton slumped heavily in June and July, it was Beltre who led the charge for the Rangers. Overall, Beltre is hitting .319/.357/.563 with 36 HR and 101 RBI, and he has hit for the cycle and twice hit three home runs in a game this year. Also, Beltre hasn’t missed any significant time with injuries, while Hamilton (of course) has missed games here and there with often bizarre injuries. The latest was this past weekend, when he didn’t play at all because too much sports drinks and caffeine had blurred his vision…. Really?
If you had asked me the MVP question at the beginning of June, I would have given the award to Hamilton without question. With four more months under his belt, Hamilton’s numbers have wilted just enough to take him out of the running in my opinion. That being said, if the Yankees want to sign him to a four year deal this offseason, I’m pretty sure he’ll hit 75 homers and win all the MVPs.
Featured image courtesy of: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
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