It's unusual for a league not to have a go-to MVP prediction, but that's the situation the American League has found itself in the last couple of years. The National League has Albert Pujols, and before that had Barry Bonds. The American League had Alex Rodriguez for many years, but since his MVP 2007 season, Rodriguez has slowly declined. He's still a good player, but he's no longer a good bet to compete for the MVP award.
So who's the best player in the American League right now? Evan Longoria? Josh Hamilton? Miguel Cabrera? Carl Crawford? How about Adrian Gonzalez?
Gonzalez has never won an MVP award. In fact, before last season, his highest finish was 12th. But this is simply a product of two major factors: San Diego and San Diego. Outside of last season, the Padres have failed to compete through most of Gonzalez's tenure. And playing in Petco Park has severely damaged his statistical record.
Double Gonzalez's road numbers the past two seasons, and these are the lines you get:
2009 - .306/.402/.643, 56 HR, 126 RBI, 118 R, .431 wOBA.
2010 - .315/.402/.578, 40 HR, 118 RBI, 92 R, .407 wOBA.
Compare that to Albert Pujols' line last season:
2010 - .312/.414/.596, 42 HR, 188 RBI, 112 R, .420 wOBA.
Gonzalez also compiled those numbers in a terrible Padres lineup. Put him in Fenway Park and give him one of the best lineups in the league, and Adrian Gonzalez is nearly a lock for a .300+ AVG, .400+ OBP, 40+ HR and a boatload of RBIs. Those are MVP caliber numbers, and with the Red Sox almost guaranteed a playoff spot, Gonzalez looks like the early favorite.