September is always a bittersweet month in baseball. For some teams, the playoff races are really taking off and are going down to the wire. Some teams have been out of contention since the All-Star break, and are only playing for a better team record and some personal stats.
It’s sweet in the sense that, for those competitive teams, it’s what they’ve been playing for all year, but it’s also bitter because as soon as that first football is kicked off in the NFL, baseball takes an immediate back seat.
No matter how competitive or uncompetitive your team is down to the wire though, you can still be fighting for one of the most prestigious awards in baseball – the Most Valuable Player award. Had the award been given around the All-Star break, Yankees 2B Robinson Cano could very well have won the MVP award. However, as we all know, baseball is a long season, and the MVP award should reflect who’s been the most consistent and most productive over the course of the season.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the two biggest contenders still left in the 2010 AL MVP race, Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera.
Josh Hamilton — OF Texas Rangers
Josh Hamilton was once regarded as the greatest player to come out of high school. The definition of a five-tool player, he was set to hit it big. Some setbacks and personal demons overwhelmed the emerging superstar, but since he’s got his career and life back on track. The 2010 season has been Josh Hamilton’s best in the majors to date. Remember, in 2007 he was dealt to the Rangers by the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Edison Volquez. In 2008 Josh Hamilton proved any doubters en route to what may have been the best first half in baseball for the whole decade of the 00s. But the long season started to wear on, production slowed, and the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia won the MVP award.
That was 2008. This is 2010, and Hamilton’s stats are better than ever. How does a .361 BA sound? 31 HR? 97 RBI? Sure, the 97 RBI mark is nearly 40 short of his 2008 campaign, but when you combine a .361 BA with a SLG% .635, you’re left with a ridiculous 1.049 OBPS. Numbers like that are good over the course of a week for most players; that’s been his steady production all season. Hamilton has arguably been the most vital player on the Rangers this season, which only makes his case for the 2010 AL MVP that much stronger.
Case for Hamilton: Leading the majors in BA by 20 points
Case against Hamilton: His current rib injury has kept him out of the past few games, and it’s still hard to tell when he’ll be returning.
Miguel Cabrera -1B Detroit Tigers
To say that Miguel Cabrera has been one bright spot on a less-than stellar Tigers team this season is a bit of an understatement, so instead of me speaking for the guy, I’ll let his stats do the talking. His batting average is .333, he’s drove in 118 RBI, and cleared the fences 34 times. Still not convinced, but thought that Josh Hamilton’s OBPS was impressive? Cabrera’s got the upper hand in that battle with an OBPS of 1.053. That’s some kind of season there. If not for Jose Bautista’s surprising power surge (47 HR), we could have a legitimate threat for a triple crown winner in the American League.
Something too that seems to get swept under the rug is Miguel Cabrera’s path to recovery. Everyone hears of Hamilton’s addictions and his recovery, and it’s about as good as a story can get. But has everyone forgotten that Cabrera is more or less still fighting his way back from alcohol abuse? A healthy and sober Miguel Cabrera that’s on the right path is something that should scare opposing teams and pitchers for years to come.
Case for Cabrera: The numbers speak for themselves. Close to the league lead in nearly every category.
Case against Cabrera: His Tigers have underperformed this season, but that’s hard to argue against Cabrera.
And the award goes to…
I love Josh Hamilton, and I love the Rangers, but I can’t say that I’d agree with him winning the 2010 AL MVP award over Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera has been more productive, and he’s been healthy down the stretch. Sure, his team isn’t going to make the postseason, but Cabrera’s stats once again speak for themselves.