Why Josh Hamilton is Building a Strong Case for the 2012 AL MVP Award

Andrew BurtonCorrespondent IIIAugust 14, 2012

Why Josh Hamilton is Building a Strong Case for the 2012 AL MVP Award

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    Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton is having a great season, so it should come as no surprise that his name has been in the talks about winning the American League MVP award.

    The numbers for Hamilton this season are above his usual averages, and he is playing stellar baseball.  

    Hamilton should be the favorite to win the award, and the upcoming slides will show why. 

Dealt with Injuries, but Still in Contention for MVP

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    In late April, the Rangers' outfielder had to sit out a few games to nurse a back injury

    All in all this season, he's missed eight games, but he's still in contention for that prized MVP award—but how?

Batting Average

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    Josh Hamilton's batting average isn't the AL-best, but it's respectable and will certainly increase as the season comes to an end.

    According to ESPN.com, he's batting a respectable .291—which ranks him 24th in the American League. However, in his last seven games, he's hitting a remarkable .375. 

    Remembering that there are still 49 games left, Hamilton's average will increase, and so will the votes for him as the AL MVP. 

Home Runs

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    Some of you may recall that Hamilton was belting out home runs at will when the season began. The 31-year-old is gifted with immense power, but has cooled down as of late—but that doesn't mean he's done for 2012.  

    Entering Monday's opener against the New York Yankees, Josh Hamilton has a league-leading 32 home runs, and he won't stop there. With over a month of baseball left, it's highly possible he makes it to 40 home runs on the season, especially considering he's at three for the month of August. 

    If that happens, voters will look at Hamilton's feat as commendable and award him a vote. 

Runs Batted in

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    Hamilton is also leading in the RBI department. The outfielder has 99 RBI, one more than Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

    If the batters in front of him get on base, this number could take a significant jump in the next several weeks.

    Many of his RBI come from the long ball, but Hamilton also managed to double 19 times this season and push in a few base runners this way. 

    Looking at the upcoming week, Hamilton and Co. will take on the New York Yankees in four games. In those four games, the opposing pitchers are David Phelps, Hiroki Kuroda, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova.

    Texas should have no problem tagging a few of these guys—after all, the Rangers are second in on-base percentage and first in runs scored.

    This series is the perfect opportunity for Hamilton to jump out in front of Cabrera in the RBI column, and as a result get some extra votes for the impressive numbers. 

Solid Outfielder

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    The Most Valuable Player award goes farther than just the offensive numbers, and Hamilton's defensive numbers are just as impressive.

    Josh Hamilton is a great defender, and his fielding statistics suggest just that. He's made 202 putouts thus far, and he has a fielding percentage of .966 in left field. 

    He risks his body night-in and night-out for his team, and that's a rare breed of athlete. The Rangers' outfielder will dive for a ball, run into the wall or even climb the wall if it brings about a positive outcome for his team. The outfielder would sacrifice his body if it means saving a run. 

    As a teammate, you want this kind of play from everybody. Those evaluating should understand this and throw votes Hamilton's way because of it.

Makes His Team Better

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    Opposing pitcher's hate facing a batter like Josh Hamilton. It forces them to make perfect pitches to those batting before Hamilton, just to not present the opportunity of the Rangers' No. 3 hitter knocking in multiple baserunners. 

    In later ball games, if an opposing pitcher is missing the strike zone, Hamilton will make them pay. He can work counts and have his way with pitchers. When he's on base he can score from first if the hit is deep enough.

    The more his numbers improve, the more likely his team's will as well. 

4-Home Run Game

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    In May, Hamilton joined a select company of players who have achieved a big milestone—homering four times in a single game.

    While this accomplishment took place three months ago, it's such an incredibly rare occurrence that it should sway voters on the fence his way. 

    Only 16 other players have done this in the past; the last one to do it was Carlos Delgado in 2003 (h/t ESPN.com)—that year, Delgado finished second in MVP voting.

    A four-home run game is a huge achievement, and it should give Hamilton the edge in this year's voting.