AL MVP Rankings: Texas Rangers Star Josh Hamilton Is No Longer the Man to Beat
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For the first six weeks or so of the 2012 regular season, there was no stopping the Texas Rangers.
There was no stopping the Texas Rangers, of course, because there was no stopping Josh Hamilton.
At the end of the day on Sunday, May 13, Hamilton was hitting .402 with a 1.321 OPS. He had 18 home runs and 44 RBI in just 32 games.
At that point, he was head and shoulders above everyone else in the American League MVP race.
In the weeks since, Hamilton has slowly but surely come back to earth and let the rest of the pack catch up to him. It seemed like just a matter of time before some other American League stud would surpass him in the MVP race.
Guess what? It happened.
Hamilton is no longer the top dog in the AL MVP rankings. There is a new No. 1.
To find out who it is, you have to check out this week's rankings.
Notes: All stats are as of the start of play on Monday, June 18.
5. Mark Trumbo, INF/OF, Los Angeles Angels
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Last Week: No. 5
Early in the season, the focus as it pertained to the Angels was all on Albert Pujols and his horrific slump.
Then, super-rookie Mike Trout arrived in late April, and the focus rightfully shifted to him. A month-and-a-half later, he still has everyone's attention—everyone who's not obsessing over Bryce Harper, anyway.
Caught in the middle is Mark Trumbo, who has very quietly been the Angels' most consistent hitter all season.
Trumbo has cooled down somewhat since the start of June, but he's still hitting .321/.378/.613 with 15 home runs and 41 RBI.
His .991 OPS ranks fourth in the American League, and his .613 slugging percentage ranks second. He also ranks in the top 10 in the league in batting average, home runs and RBI.
Trumbo is only hitting .245 in the month of June, but he's kept the production coming. He has five home runs and 15 RBI this month. Only three players have hit more homers and only Trevor Plouffe of the Minnesota Twins has driven in more runs.
The Angels are still looking up at the Texas Rangers in the AL West. But, if they didn't have Trumbo, odds are they'd be facing an even longer uphill climb to the top of the division.
Trout has been great and Pujols has really come around, but Trumbo has been the Angels' true money player this season.
4. Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox
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Last Week: No. 3
Paul Konerko boasts some pretty impressive numbers this season, as he's currently sitting on a .359/.435/.590 line and a 1.025 OPS. He has 12 home runs and 36 RBI.
He ranks first in the AL in average and on-base percentage, fourth in slugging and second in OPS. His WAR for the season, according to FanGraphs, is 2.7.
That's good for fourth in the Junior Circuit.
These numbers may seem to warrant a ranking higher than No. 4, but the issue with Konerko is that his numbers are skewed by that ridiculous stretch he had in the middle of May—nobody could get him out. From May 15 to May 27, he hit .639 with an absurd 1.857 OPS (h/t Baseball-Reference.com).
Since then, Konerko hasn't been the same. In his last 14 games, he's hit .241/.305/.315 with a .620 OPS. He has just one home run and three RBI in those 14 games.
A bad wrist is largely to blame for Konerko's struggles at the plate over the last couple weeks, as he had to have a procedure done to deal with a nagging bone chip.
Because the bone chip is still in Konerko's wrist, according to Chuck Garfien of CSN Chicago, it's conceivable that he will slump like this for the rest of the season.
That, obviously, remains to be seen. For the time being, Konerko is trending in the wrong direction in the MVP race.
3. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees
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Last Week: Unranked
The Yankees have won nine games in a row and 13 of 15 in the month of June. Fans and experts alike have looked at this hot streak and chalked it up to excellent starting pitching.
And rightfully so.
Yankees starters have an 11-1 record this month, not to mention a 1.97 ERA. They deserve all the credit they're getting.
But hey—Robinson Cano deserves some credit too.
His success at the plate has gotten lost at the shuffle, but he's been on fire in June.
Per Baseball-Reference.com, Cano is hitting .333/.438/.630 with a 1.067 OPS. He's hit four home runs and has driven in eight runs.
For the season, Cano is now hitting .300 with an even .900 OPS, and he has 12 home runs and 31 RBI. If he can get his batting average with runners in scoring position up over .150, he's bound to go on a classic Robinson Cano-esque tear for the rest of the season.
The other thing that shouldn't be overlooked is Cano's defense. His 4.6 UZR is tops among all major league second basemen, according to FanGraphs, putting him in line to win a second Gold Glove.
Cano also ranks third in the AL with a 3.1 WAR, well ahead of all other AL second basemen—yes, even Jason Kipnis.
2. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
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Last Week: No. 1
The good news is that Josh Hamilton's hospitalization for an intestinal virus ended up being no big deal. He was only in the hospital for a short while, and the word from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is that Hamilton is going to be back in action on Monday in San Diego.
The bad news is that Hamilton's early season dominance has long since gone missing. He hasn't been the same player over the last month that he was in the first six weeks of the season.
The numbers do a fine job of telling the story. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Hamilton is hitting .245 with a .757 OPS over his last 28 games (27 starts), with four home runs and 18 RBI.
Keep in mind he collected four homers and eight RBI in a single game earlier this season.
Hamilton still ranks in the top 10 in the AL in numerous offensive categories, including first in RBI, slugging and OPS.
For the first time in a long time, however, he does not lead the American League in WAR. According to FanGraphs, he now ranks second in the AL with a WAR of 3.5.
The only guy ahead of him just so happens to be the next guy on this list.
1. Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore Orioles
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Last Week: No. 2
In the weeks when Josh Hamilton was slowly fading in the AL MVP race, I had a lot of commentators point out that the Rangers would still be a great team without Hamilton, but that the Orioles wouldn't be so great without Adam Jones.
There was no arguing that point. Hamilton kept getting the edge over Jones anyway because of his video-game numbers.
His numbers are no longer that absurd. Jones' numbers still are, and he's been far more consistent than Hamilton all season.
It's time to give him his due.
Jones is hitting .300/.360/.583 with a .943 OPS. He has 18 home runs, 39 RBI and nine stolen bases to go along with 82 hits—a figure that ranks third in the American League.
He also ranks in the top 10 in the AL in average, homers, runs, steals, slugging, OPS and so on.
Jones got off to a slow start defensively, but he's really come around. His 5.0 UZR leads all qualified AL center fielders, according to FanGraphs.
Jones is getting it done at the plate, on the basepaths and in the field. It's no wonder he leads the AL with a 3.7 WAR.
The Orioles, meanwhile, enter the week with the third-best record in the AL.
Until Hamilton gets himself figured out, Jones will be leading the charge in the AL MVP race.
Last Week's Rankings
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5. Mark Trumbo, INF/OF, Los Angeles Angels
Steady as she goes.
4. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Trout finally went into a slump last week. If he snaps out of it, he'll be back in the top five in no time. Dude's a phenomenal player.
3. Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Wrong way, dude.
2. Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore Orioles
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
Down goes Hamilton.
Note: Feel free to check out last week's rankings for yourself.
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