No player has been more valuable to his team this year than Torii Hunter.
Hunter has always been a great player and a great leader; these are facts. This season, however, he has taken his game to the next level when his team desperately needed it.
No team has faced more adversity this season than the Los Angeles Angels. Things could have easily gone completely down the drain. The bullpen was imploding, the offense was struggling, and the starting pitching was dealing with an unbelievable amount of injuries and even the death of a young uprising star.
Hunter has stayed strong and has shown everyone that the Angels made a great decision in signing him last season. Hunter has shown three huge reasons why he is undoubtedly the MVP of the first half.
1. Swinging a Big Stick
Hunter is a career .273 hitter who usually hits around 24-30 home runs a year and has never driven in more than 107 runs in a season. This year, Hunter is batting .305 and is on pace to hit 37 home runs and drive in 130 runs.
The Angels have always struggled hitting home runs and driving in runs. The Angels are now starting to find a bit of an identity offensively, with the likes of Juan Rivera, Mike Napoli, and Kendry Morales starting to show signs of good power. While these players struggled at the beginning of the season, Hunter was the one consistent bat in the lineup.
With Vladimir Guerrero on the DL the Angels needed Hunter to produce more than ever, and he did not disappoint.
2. The Best Defensive Center Fielder in the League
Everyone has always known what an excellent fielder Hunter is. Hunter is a regular on ESPN's Top 10 Plays and Baseball Tonight’s Web Gems. With zero regard for his body, Hunter flies around the outfield making spectacular catch after spectacular catch.
Earlier this season, the Angels were at home and up by two in the top of the ninth with two outs and two men on base. A deep fly ball was hit to center field. While it looked like a go ahead home run, Hunter snagged it from over the wall and brought it back for the final out of the game. How many players have you ever seen win a game by robbing a home run?
Hunter is a perennial Gold Glover in center field and this year has been no different. Hunter continues to be the best defensive center fielder in the game. He has been everything the Angels need at the plate and in the field.
3. Great Leadership
Aside from Mike Scioscia, Torii Hunter is the team leader. In the face of adversity this season Hunter has been the glue that held the Angels together. Many times people forget the value of veteran leadership. Hunter provides excellent play on the field and the off field persona to match.
The Angels, overall, are a very young team. Many of their best players are either too young to lead or just aren't outspoken enough. Hunter isn't afraid to say anything and knows when and where it should be said. He never shows up his teammates, but makes sure they know when they have made a mistake.
In their greatest time of need, Hunter has been the provider for the Angels. While the season started tough and the Angels were labeled as a disappointment, they now find themselves back in first place of the A.L. West.
Hunter is the biggest reason why. With players coming off the DL, the Angels will look to make a run at another division crown this year and hopefully a World Series Championship.