AL MVP Award: Beltre's Rise and Hamilton's Demise
Baseball's MVP Awards are now frighteningly similar to the Heisman Trophy proceedings, with a formal announcement of the five finalists having been made in advance for the first time.
Let's just do this the old-fashioned and correct way. I'll give you my Top 10 and you can give me yours. Today, we analyze the American League.
10. Justin Verlander Still Top 10 Worthy
That can also be said about two of Detroit's everyday players. So, hopefully, we will be spared the annual debate about whether a pitcher should even be considered for any regular season MVP Award.
9. Prince Fielder Positioned Miggy for AL Triple Crown
New Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder repositioned Miguel Cabrera to third base, where he hadn't played in many years. In the process, Prince also positioned Miggy for the AL Triple Crown.
In the cleanup spot, Fielder batted a career-high .313 while protecting Cabrera. Prince "only" hit 30 HR with 108 RBI, but Comerica Park is not a hitter's paradise.
8. Yoenis Cespedes Epitomized A's Meteoric Rise
"Yo Yo Yo !!!" they chanted far away from Philadelphia. The A's of Oakland belonged to Cuban rookie sensation Yoenis Cespedes in 2012. Cespedes batted .344 over June and July, igniting the A's to a shocking AL West title.
In the first 129 games of his MLB career, Cespedes hit .292 with 23 HR, 82 RBI and 16 steals. "Yo" also committed a mere 3 errors while splitting time between left field and center.
7. Derek Jeter Resurrects Bid for 4,000 Hits
Derek Jeter is no longer a Gold Glove shortstop, but he proved in 2012 that he's as good as ever at the plate. Jeter's 216 hits were the second most of his immortal career and he's now less than 700 hits away from 4,000.
At age 38, Jeter batted .316 this season (a shade ahead of his career.313 average) and even clocked 15 home runs.
6. Robinson Cano: Leaves Second Baseman Debate in the Dust
I must admit I was wrong about Robinson Cano. Before this year, I thought former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia was still better and Ian Kinsler was right there with him among AL second baseman. Cano left them both in the dust in the 2012 regular season with career highs of 33 HR and .550 SLG, not to mention his second Gold Glove in three seasons.
Arguably, Cano could be higher on this MVP list and I'm still somewhat wrong about him. After all, he has been named one of the official five finalists. I just don't see how he ranks ahead of the rest of my list—read on.
5. Josh Hamilton: Feast or Famine
Josh Hamilton's first two months of 2012 were mind-boggling. It wasn't only his mammoth offensive numbers (21 HR, 57 RBI, .368 BA). It was also his outstanding diving grabs in centerfield and a Pete Rose approach on the basepaths, including head-first slides into first base (not always smart perhaps, but inspiring nonetheless.)
June and July were pure junk, and it doesn't matter if it's because contract negotiations broke down or if he just picked a bad time to stop chewing tobacco. Hamilton's cumulative average of .202 with only eight homers and 27 RBI was a summer drought that began the Rangers downfall. He also routinely jogged out grounders the remainder of the season—regressing from Charlie Hustle into Charlie Brown.
Rangers teammate Mike Adams has just told Sirius MLB Radio Network: "You don't know which Josh is going to show up at the ballpark. What happened at the end of the year, only Josh knows."
What we do know is that Hamilton loafed in the decisive AL West loss in Oakland and dropped an easy pop fly that has become infamous in Texas.
This is why the Rangers will not re-sign their own free agent who finished with MVP caliber numbers of 43 HR, 128 RBI and a .285 BA.
4. Adam Jones Led the Orioles Cinderella Season
Center fielder Adam Jones played almost every inning of the Orioles Cinderella season and excelled in every facet of the game.
The numbers don't tell the whole story but here they are: .287 BA, .505 SLG, 32 HR, 103 Runs, 82 RBI, 16 SB and the second Gold Glove of his career.
Josh Hamilton's numbers are better but Jones' leadership gives him the edge for fourth place in the AL MVP race.
3. Mike Trout's Spectacular Rookie Season Faded Late
Mike Trout may be the fastest player to break into the majors since Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Trout stole 49 bases in 54 attempts and also scored 129 runs in 139 games.
The Angels rookie sensation surprisingly smacked 30 home runs and finished with a .326 batting average. However, that batting average actually faded down the stretch along with the Angels playoff hopes.
Trout made some spectacular plays in the outfield, but his arm is sub-par. He's a great 4-tool player but so is my choice for AL MVP runner-up, albeit in a different fashion.
Adrian Beltre Should Be AL MVP Runner-Up
The Hot Corner is the home of the American League's two best MVP candidates in 2012.
Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre had a defensive season that could only be rivaled by Brooks Robinson at his best. An unfathomable number of sensational plays and a meager eight errors gave Beltre his fourth career Gold Glove.
Toss in 36 HR, 102 RBI and a .321 batting average and you have to make the Rangers unquestioned leader the AL MVP runner-up.
AL MVP Lock Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera was the first Triple Crown Winner since Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski in 1967. Case Closed.