AL MVP Rankings: Josh Hamilton Exits Top 5 as Miguel Cabrera Continues Surge
For the first time all season, Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton will not be featured in my list of the top five contenders for the American League MVP this week.
Oh, don't look so surprised. Sure, Hamilton was as hot as blazes earlier in the season, but he's been irrelevant since the middle of May.
That's two whole months. Hamilton has spent a bigger chunk of the season being mediocre than he has being brilliant. It was just a matter of time before he was no longer a top-five MVP candidate. He was trending in the wrong direction.
Trending in the right direction, meanwhile, is Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. He's hitting the ball pretty hard these days, and he's largely responsible for the fact that the Detroit Tigers are back atop the AL Central.
Cabrera debuted at No. 3 in my weekly AL MVP rankings last week. Scroll ahead to see where he ranks this week.
Note: All stats come from Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
5. David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Last Week: No. 4
David Ortiz may not be in my top five next week, so get a good look at him now while you still can.
Big Papi could be dropped from my top five next week because all signs point toward him being out a while longer while he waits for his bum Achilles to heal up. He hasn't played since last Monday, and it could be couple more weeks before he's ready to play again.
I decided to keep Ortiz in my top five this week despite his injury status because he's still having a better season in 2012 than his pursuers, including Mark Trumbo, Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Hamilton.
Ortiz is hitting .316/.414/.609 this season with 23 home runs and 58 RBI. He ranks seventh in the AL in batting average, second in on-base percentage and second in slugging. His 1.024 OPS is tops in the American League.
If you want the non-gibberish version, here it is: The only player in the AL who has been a bigger offensive threat this season than Ortiz is Trout.
Where they differ is the fact that Trout is a leadoff hitter and Ortiz is a middle-of-the-order slugger.
So as far as sluggers are concerned, nobody in the AL has been better than Ortiz this season. That's why he's still a top MVP candidate.
4. Austin Jackson, CF, Detroit Tigers
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Last Week: Unranked
With Josh Hamilton falling out of the rankings this week, I considered several different candidates to take his spot.
Among the most intriguing was Yoenis Cespedes, who has an OPS over 1.000 since the start of June. He's been at the heart of Oakland's surge over the last couple weeks.
I also considered Josh Reddick, who has been getting it done all season for the A's. Usual suspects like Mark Trumbo and Adrian Beltre were also on my short list of finalists.
But in the end, there was just no ignoring Austin Jackson. His contributions haven't gotten the attention they deserve, but let's just say that the Tigers would be lost without him.
Jackson is having a fine offensive season, as he's hitting .315/.396/.514 with 59 runs scored, 10 homers and 44 RBI. His .394 wOBA ranks ninth in the AL, according to FanGraphs.
Jackson has also gotten it done in the field this season. The only center fielder in the AL with a higher UZR than Jackson is Denard Span.
In short, Jackson has been the complete package this season. It's no wonder that he ranks fifth in the AL in WAR.
The best testament to Jackson's value, however, is how the Tigers have fared with and without him in the lineup. With him, they're 40-33. Without him, they're 8-14.
3. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees
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Last Week: No. 2
Don't blame Robinson Cano for the Yankees' four-game sweep at the hands of the A's this past week. He collected five hits in the four games, including a game-tying homer in Friday's 3-2 loss.
Cano did his part. He's been the best player on the best team in the American League all season, and it doesn't look like that's going to change any time soon.
For the season, Cano is hitting .318/.376/.577 with 22 homers and 56 RBI. His .399 wOBA and his 151 wRC+ both rank seventh in the AL, according to FanGraphs.
Like with Jackson, one must also take Cano's defense into account. As far as the advanced stats are concerned, he and Dustin Ackley are neck and neck in the chase to be called the top defensive second baseman in the American League.
It all adds up to a WAR of 4.7, which ranks second in the American League.
So why knock Cano down a peg this week?
It has little to do with him, to be perfectly honest. He's done nothing wrong over the last seven days, nor am I punishing him for the Oakland debacle.
It has everything to do with the guy who now occupies the No. 2 spot. I'll explain in the next slide.
2. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
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Last Week: No. 3
The Tigers are 14-4 in the month of July, and they were able to retake first place in the AL Central this past weekend with a three-game sweep of the White Sox.
The team's success this month has a lot to do with Miguel Cabrera's hot bat. In Detroit's 18 games, he's hit .397/.449/.765 with seven home runs and 17 RBI.
Cabrera's hot streak stretches back even further than the start of July, however. He's hitting .345/.411/.667 with 14 home runs in 45 games since the start of June. In these games, the Tigers have gone 28-17.
For the season, Cabrera is now hitting .330/.389/.581 with 23 home runs and an AL-best 79 RBI. He ranks third in the league in batting average and fifth in OPS.
Per FanGraphs, Cabrera ranks fourth in the AL with a wOBA of .407 and fifth with a wRC+ of 158. Both of these numbers have been steadily increasing over the last few weeks.
So has Cabrera's WAR, which is up to 4.1. That ties him for third in the American League, and it would be a lot higher if Cabrera wasn't such a lousy defender at third base.
I have Cabrera in the No. 2 spot ahead of Cano simply because Cabrera has been a lot hotter at the plate both recently and throughout pretty much the entire season.
In addition, there's simply no way the Tigers are in first place right now without Cabrera's hot bat.
1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
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Last Week: No. 1
It was reasonable to think that Mike Trout might go into a slump after the All-Star break. After all, he had to hit a wall sometime, right?
It seems there are no walls that can stop Trout. Against all odds, he's been even better after the break than he was before it.
In 10 second-half games thus far, Trout has hit at .452/.511/.857 with 13 runs scored, three homers and five stolen bases. The more pitchers search for holes in his swing, the more they find out that there really are no holes in Trout's swing.
For the season, Trout is now hitting .357/.412/.603 with 70 runs scored, 15 homers, 47 RBI and 31 stolen bases. He leads the American League in average, runs and steals.
He also leads the AL in wOBA, wRC+ and WAR, according to FanGraphs.
He's the best player in baseball right now.
Don't argue that last statement. You can't win.
Last Week's Rankings
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5. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
He's hitting under .200 since the break and .225 since the middle of May. He has some serious turning around to do.
4. David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox
Down one, but still hanging steady.
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
2. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees
Down one, but through no fault of his own.
1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Let's just give it to him now.
Feel free to check out last week's rankings.
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