While the Cy Young debate in the American League is getting a lot of attention, the Most Valuable Player award is not. Although it is discussed occasionally, people are not giving it the attention that it deserves.
The front-runner(s) at this point are Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, and Josh Hamilton. All have had incredible seasons, but can also be easily argued against. If you ask me, this debate will come down to the wire, because no one is running away with it.
Pros: The 27 year-old second baseman has had a season to remember. He is hitting .314, with a career high 28 home runs, 55 walks and 106 runs batted in. He is second in the American League with 193 hits. His clutch stat of 0.77 is the highest of his career, and his time filling in for Alex Rodriguez as the clean-up hitter most likely kept the Yankees in contention.
Cons: After a break-out first half where he hit .336, Cano has declined throughout the entire season, hitting just .287 in the second half of the season.
Pros: Hamilton leads all of Major League Baseball with 7.9 wins above replacement. His .359 batting average is also the best in baseball, along with his .447 wOBA. His clutch stat of 0.92 is well above average as well.
Cons: Josh has played just 131 games this season due to a recent rib cage injury. Although he would not be the first player to win the MVP with few games played (Joe Mauer won it last year with just 135 games played) he has missed the most essential part of the season, thus reducing his value.
Pros: Cabrera has the second best batting average in the league at .328. He has 38 home runs, the most for any candidate. His .428 wOBA is not only a career high, but it is the second best in the American League. Cabrera has a high clutch stat as well, at 0.92, the same as Josh Hamilton.
Cons: Cabrera hasn’t played in a meaningful game since early in the season. Like Cano, he has declined as the season has progressed, hitting 41 points lower in the second half compared to the first half.
Everyone of these players is deserving of the award. However, it will be difficult to vote for any of them, considering their pros and cons are essentially equally weighed. This race is going to come down to sole opinion, because no mathematical or observational data justifies giving the award away to either Cano, Hamilton, or Cabrera.