American League MVP: Ranking Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera and Other Contenders

Brandon BeckerCorrespondent INovember 23, 2010

American League MVP: Ranking Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera and Other Contenders

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    This afternoon the 2010 AL MVP will be announced, and there are a number of quality candidates. Yesterday Joey Votto won the NL MVP in a landslide.

    Will the AL award be closer, or will both MVP winners walk away undoubtedly the MVPs of their respective leagues?

    That question will be answered shortly. What needs to be answered now is who should walk away with the prestigious award? Josh Hamilton appears to be the favorite heading in, and it certainly didn't hurt his cause that his team made it to the World Series when all his opponents were at home watching him.

    Without further ado, here are the top 10 candidates who deserve MVP consideration.

No. 10: Jim Thome

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    Many will scoff at the suggestion Thome belongs on this list, but it's just too hard to ignore what he did in the limited at-bats he received. In just 276 at bats the future Hall of Famer blasted 25 home runs and played a huge roll in helping the Twins get back to the playoffs.

    When Justin Morneau went down with a concussion—that eventually cost him his season—Thome stepped up and delivered for Minnesota. He had an OPS of 1.039, which is truly amazing for a guy his age. 

    Obviously the limited at-bats disqualify Thome from serious MVP consideration, but he deserves to be mentioned for what he did in the at-bats he received. 

No. 9: Jose Bautista

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    Nobody could have predicted Jose Bautista hitting 54 home runs this season, but that's exactly what he did. The slugger benefited from playing in a home run-hitting park, as evidenced by the amount of homers Toronto hit as a team. 

    Bautista would be much higher on this list if it weren't for his sub-par .260 batting average. Despite the poor average, Bautista played an integral role in helping the Blue Jays to an 85-win season in the toughest division in baseball. 

    The Jays are going to need to resign Bautista if they want to continue to remain competitive in the AL East. Bautista won't receive any votes, but his performance warrants recognition. 

No. 8: Paul Konerko

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    Konerko turned in an impressive 2010 season. He finished second behind Bautista in home runs with 39, drove in 111 runs and hit .312. All in all it was another very good season for the Chicago White Sox slugger, who has become the face of the franchise over the years.

    If it weren't for the White Sox second-half collapse, Konerko would be a top candidate for the award. While he put up great numbers throughout the year, down the stretch in key spots against division rival Minnesota he failed to come up with clutch hits to propel the White Sox to victory.

    Regardless, Konerko remains one of the top hitters in baseball. If he keeps churning out seasons like this, he may find himself accepting an MVP award one day.

No. 7: Vladimir Guerrero

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    Vlad stayed healthy for a full year and rewarded the Texas Rangers by bashing 29 home runs, driving in 115 runs and finished with a .300 batting average. He also played an important role in getting the Rangers to the World Series.

    Unfortunately for Vlad, postseason success doesn't matter when it comes to MVP voting. Like Thome did when Morneau went out, Guerrero raised his performance when Hamilton went out of the lineup with a rib injury. 

    While Vlad makes my Top 10 list, it's unlikely he receives any votes. 

No. 6: Delmon Young

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    The former No. 1 pick finally had a breakout year for the Twins, and he did so in a big way. Playing in a pitcher-friendly ballpark didn't help Young's home-run total, but it did help his doubles total. Young was tied for second in doubles with 46, just three behind Adrian Beltre. 

    What makes Young a fringe MVP candidate is the run he had in late July early August when he carried the Twins offense when no one else was stepping up. What hurts Young's case is his poor defense, .333 OBP and low home-run total.

    His batting average (.298) and RBI total (112) are good enough to land him just outside the top five. 

No. 5: Carl Crawford

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    The left fielder turned in a very good season in a contract year. He stole 47 bases, hit .307 and drove in 90 runs. Crawford also hit 19 home runs improving on his 2009 total of 15. The speed, defense and hitting he brought to the table for Tampa Bay is why he will land a lucrative contract this offseason.

    Tampa Bay finished with 96 wins this season—second best in the majors—and without Crawford in the lineup next year, they could see a significant drop-off. 

    Crawford isn't a serious MVP candidate, but don't be surprised if he snags a couple votes.

No. 4: Robinson Cano

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    Cano was the catalyst for the New York Yankees offense this season, and he also played terrific defense at second base, earning him his first Gold Glove of his career. Throughout the year Cano's play was steady compared to teammates Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, who all experienced significant slumps at one point.

    Not Cano.

    He hit .319 for the Bronx Bombers to go along with 29 home runs and 109 RBIs. It seemed like any time the Yankees needed a clutch hit he came up with one. Cano had a terrific year and will likely finish third in the MVP race, but not on this list. 

    While the next man on this list may have Yankees fans groaning, in my opinion he had a better season on a less-talented team at a harder position. 

No. 3: Adrian Beltre

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    If you're wondering why Beltre gets the nod over Cano, it's simple. Beltre was better.

    While he didn't win a Gold Glove at his position, he continued to play stellar defense at a position that is titled the "hot corner" for a reason. In 37 less at-bats than Cano, Beltre hit one less home run (28) and had seven less RBIs (102). Beltre also led the league in doubles and was consistent on an injury-riddled Boston Red Sox team.

    The third baseman had a bounce-back year after a poor season with Seattle and now will be a highly coveted free agent. His performance this season helped keep the Red Sox at bay despite all of Boston's issues, and he deserves to finish third in the MVP race.

No. 2: Miguel Cabrera

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    Any other year and Cabrera might have been MVP despite Detroit finishing third in the AL Central. If it wasn't for Cabrera, the Tigers would have been a bottom feeder this year. Instead his 38 home runs, .328 average and league-leading 126 RBIs were the main reason the Tigers finished .500. 

    Cabrera's gaudy numbers came after a season in which his work ethic and commitment to baseball was questioned. He responded with a career year. Too bad it was wasted on a team that wasn't very good. Nevertheless, the season Cabrera put up will be good enough to land him second in MVP voting, behind Josh Hamilton.

And Your 2010 AL MVP Winner Is...Josh Hamilton

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    It's hard to build suspense when Hamilton seems to have the award locked up. He was the best player in the AL throughout the year, and the only knock on him is that he missed the majority of the home stretch due to injury.

    While that may play a factor in voters' heads, it's likely they'll be swayed by his majors-best .359 batting average, 30-plus home runs and 100 RBI season. It also doesn't hurt Hamilton that he is the sentimental favorite after everything that he has gone through to get to where he is today.

    For Rangers fans, the sour note the season ended on will get a little bit better when they find out Hamilton wins the award.

    Simply put, Hamilton was the best player in the AL this year.