2010 AL Most Valuable Player: B/R Columnists Pick Rangers' Josh Hamilton For MVP
It's almost over.
It's been more than three weeks since Bleacher Report's Featured Columnists began unveiling the results of our end-of-season mock awards vote. We've worked our way up from lowly Silver Sluggers to mighty Cy Youngs and everything in between.
Today, we release the results of the final award in the American League, but we saved the best for last: the Most Valuable Players.
This time, the top ten vote-getters are featured here, with commentary from the writers who chose them. The full list of results is at the end.
So read on, see how we did, and be sure to tell us what we got wrong!
No. 10: Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
Al Bello/Getty Images
Featured writer: Lewie Pollis
Shin-Soo Choo’s talent might not be a secret anymore, but if you live outside of Cleveland, you probably don’t realize that he’s one of the best players in baseball.
He’s got the back-of-the-baseball card stats; he hit .300 this year with 22 homers, 90 RBI, 81 runs, and 22 steals. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Choo’s exceptional contact skills and plate discipline made him one of only five players to have an OBP over .400 in more than 600 plate appearances. Combine that with his great glove (14 TZR) and cannon arm (14 outfield assists—the most in baseball), and you’ve got the makings of a star.
According to Baseball-Reference.com’s Wins Above Replacement ratings, Choo was worth 7.3 wins, making him the second-best player in baseball.
No. 9: Carl Crawford, Rays
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Featured writer: Asher Chancey
Carl Crawford has spent his career as one of the most underrated players in baseball, and 2010 was no different.
Crawford was the player around whom the entire Tampa Bay Rays team revolved this season, emerging as a classic third-spot hitter with power, speed, the ability to drive in runs and the ability to get on base.
What really sets Crawford apart, though, was his Gold Glove defense. He wasn’t just the best defensive left fielder in baseball this season, he was twice as good as anyone else.
No. 8: Evan Longoria, Rays
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Featured writer: Dan Tylicki
Evan Longoria has become an established star in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and absolutely deserves some votes for Most Valuable Player.
He continues to improve each year, and while his power numbers were down slightly, his OBP, stolen bases, and other aspects of his play continue to improve.
With the down year Pena had, the focus on pitching, and the Carl Crawford free agency looming, Longoria went past all that to become the undisputed leader of the team, at least on the hitting side.
He didn’t have the power numbers of Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre and others, but has played like an MVP.
No. 7: Joe Mauer, Twins
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Featured writer: Matt Goldberg
The Twins’ phenomenal catcher did not put up the sheer, eye-popping numbers that he did in his MVP season of 2009, but he still did enough to get the No. 1 spot on my ballot. Why Mauer? He plays the most demanding position, won his third straight Gold Glove (on merit) while being far-and-away the top hitting catcher in his league (.327/9/75/88 and an OPS of .871).
Intangibly, Mauer played through a variety of injuries and was asked to carry the Twins when his M&M twin, Justin Morneau, went down for the season in early July. He did, leading the Twins to another AL Central crown.
So in a year when Cabrera and Bautista put up great numbers for non-contenders, Hamilton missed most of September, and Cano was surrounded by superstars, I cast my vote for the great Twins backstop who carried his team to the top.
No. 6: Paul Konerko, White Sox
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Featured writer: Bob Warja
White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko is a candidate for the AL MVP because he quietly had a fantastic season for a team that was in the thick of the AL Central race until about two weeks to go in the season.
Just examining his stats, Konerko hit .312 with a wOBA (a weighted on-base average, like OPS but placing a higher weight on OBP) of .415 (fourth-best of all MLB first sackers). He slugged almost .600 with 39 homers. Plus, he’s the captain of the team, for whatever that’s worth.
Of the teams that were in serious contention, if you are so inclined to believe that the MVP should only come from a winning team, only Josh Hamilton finished with a higher wOBA despite a much lower BABIP (indicating that Hamilton had much better luck). The goal is to get on base and Konerko did that as well or better than anyone in the AL this season, so he should at least be in the MVP discussion.
No. 5: Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
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Featured writer: Lewie Pollis
Wondering how a Boston Red Sox team racked by injuries and underperformances managed to hang in contention as long as they did? They couldn’t have done it without Adrian Beltre.
With the BoSox lineup going to shambles around him, Beltre hit .321/.365/.553 with 28 homers, 102 RBI, and a .390 wOBA—all career highs if you discount his monster 2004 campaign.
And then there’s his defense. Beltre made good on his reputation as a wizard in the field, posting an 11.8 UZR this year en route to his third Gold Glove in four seasons.
All told, he was worth 7.1 WAR—the second-best total in the league. But you can bet he was worth much more than that to the Boston Red Sox.
It's worth noting that, having also won our Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards at third base and finishing third in the AL Comeback Player of the Year vote, Beltre's four featured appearances in our awards series are the most of any player.
No. 4: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Matthew Manor/Getty Images
Featured writer: Jamal Wilburg
Jose Bautista was the most dominant hitter in the American League in 2010.
His 54 home runs were 12 more than any other player in the majors. The player with the second-most homeruns hit in the American League was Paul Konerko with 39.
Bautista’s 124 RBI and .617 Slugging Percentage both were good for third in the AL. He also scored the fifth most runs in the AL with 109.
Critics will say that he doesn’t have enough of a resume to win the MVP. His batting average was only .260 in 2010 and will be a disqualifying factor for some. However, in a year dominated by great pitching his power numbers stand out and must be taken into greater consideration.
No. 3: Robinson Cano, Yankees
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Featured writer: Dan Hartel
Last spring, the Yankees asked Robinson Cano to move up to fifth in the batting order, and to improve his often lackadaisical defensive effort. Essentially, the Yankees expected Robinson Cano to be a better player in 2010.
And that’s exactly what he was.
Cano was one of two players to reach 200 hits this year. In the American League, he was ninth in doubles (41), sixth in runs (103), seventh in RBI’s (109), ninth in HR’s (29), fifth in average (.319), sixth in OPS (.914), ninth in OBP (.381), and seventh in slugging (.534). Cano also committed just three errors, as he vastly improved his fundamental defense.
When all was said and done, Cano ended up the most important Yankee in 2010. His consistency in all facets of the game were important factors, especially considering the “off-years” of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, as well as the early-season troubles of Mark Teixeira.
No. 2: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
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Featured writer: Dmitriy Ioselevich
From a statistical standpoint, Miguel Cabrera should be the consensus MVP.
He leads all AL players in RBI’s (126) and on-base percentage (.420). He’s second in slugging (.622), batting average (.328), runs scored (111), total bases (341), and third in home runs (38). Using Baseball-Reference.com's formulas, Cabrera is also among the league leaders in every major measure of value, ranking third in both WAR and RAR behind only Evan Longoria and Shin-Soo Choo.
Josh Hamilton was the runaway winner for this award before he injured his ribs late in the season. Cabera, meanwhile, has appeared in 17 more games, and briefly challenged for the Triple Crown before Jose Bautista ran off with the home run title.
The only argument against him is that his team didn’t make the playoffs, or even come close. But it’s not Cabrera’s fault that the Detroit Tigers can’t win.
No. 1: Josh Hamilton, Rangers
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Featured writer: Brandon Williams
Josh Hamilton finally put together the season everyone envisioned when he became the first overall pick of the 1999 draft.
Hamilton’s well-documented climb out of the valleys of substance abuse reached a long-awaited peak this year, as the gifted right fielder became the driving force of Texas’ surprising run to the American League title. Despite missing 29 games, Hamilton led the majors with a .359 average while clouting 32 homers and 100 RBIs. His .644 slugging percentage and 1.044 OPS also topped the field to go along with an offensive winning percentage of .808.
His value to the Rangers went beyond numbers. Hamilton became a leader in the clubhouse and an inspiring figure for those seeking an example of how redemption can be achieved, no matter how daunting the challenges life presents.
Hamilton became a winner off the field, and in 2010, his selection, as the American League’s Most Valuable Player is confirmation that this generation’s version of “The Natural” is a winner on the field as well.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers—348 (18)
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers—261 (7)
3. Robinson Cano, Yankees—195 (2)
4. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays—133 (1)
5. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox—125
6. Paul Konerko, White Sox—97
7. Joe Mauer, Twins—89 (2)
8. Evan Longoria, Rays—87
9. Carl Crawford, Rays—76
10. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians—43
11. CC Sabathia, Yankees—41
12. Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers—29 (1)
13. David Price, Rays—23
T14. Felix Hernandez, Mariners—17
T14. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees—17
16. Delmon Young, Twins—14
17. Mark Teixeira, Yankees—9
T18. Cliff Lee, Mariners/Rangers—8
T18. Francisco Liriano, Twins—8
20. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays—7
21. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners—6
T22. Brett Gardner, Yankees—3
T22. Jon Lester, Red Sox—3
T22. David Ortiz, Red Sox—3
T25. Rafael Soriano, Rays—2
T25. Michael Young, Rangers—2
T27. Daric Barton, Athletics—1
T27. Billy Butler, Royals—1
T27. Luke Scott, Orioles—1
Voting on a 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. First-place votes are in parentheses.
Schedule of Results
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|AL Gold Gloves||October 25|
|NL Gold Gloves||October 26|
|AL Silver Sluggers||October 27|
|NL Silver Sluggers||October 28|
|AL Comeback Player of the Year||November 1|
|NL Comeback Player of the Year||November 2|
|AL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year||November 3|
|NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year||November 4|
|AL Rookie of the Year||November 8|
|NL Rookie of the Year||November 9|
|AL Manager of the Year||November 10|
|NL Manager of the Year||November 11|
|AL Cy Young||November 15|
|NL Cy Young||November 16|
|AL Most Valuable Player||November 17|
|NL Most Valuable Player||November 18|