Prior to the completion of the 2010 regular season, I gave a quick run down of the main candidates for the major baseball awards in Early Award Returns. Never one to rest with a cursory look into any topic, I thought it would be a worthwhile venture to explore each of the major awards in a more in-depth manner. With that, here are my thoughts on the 2010 AL MVP.
To see the previous articles in the series click on the following link:
These are the top-5 options, for the AL award. Let me briefly run through the candidacy of each.
Jose Bautista: I still can’t believe it. I said all year he would slow down, and while every bit of common sense, logic and empirical data agreed, it just never happened as he bashed all the way until the seasons final day. In the end he was better in the second half (.287-30-68-65-6) than the first (.237-24-56-55-3), an as a result he led baseball with 54 homers (12 more than anyone else). By the way, his total of 54 homers in 569 ABs nearly matched his career total of 59 in 1,754 ABs coming into the year. Oh yeah, he also become the seventh player in big league history – that’s all-time folks – to have 50 homers, 100 walks and 30 doubles in a season. He also knocked in 124 runs and scored 109 times. He did hit .260, and that will ultimately hurt his chance at the award.
Miguel Cabrera: If it weren’t for the presence of Albert Pujols, Cabrera would likely be called the best right-handed hitter in baseball. Cabrera was second in the league in average (.328), third in homers (38) and first in RBI (126) – the most in baseball. He also posted a .420 OBP and a .622 SLG to end up with a 1.042 OPS, the second best mark in baseball. Toss in 111 runs and you have a guy who, yet again, was all over the flippin’ leader board.
Robinson Cano: The best hitting second basemen in baseball this season with Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler and Brian Roberts injured. Cano was second at the position with a .319 average, first with a .534 SLG and .914 OPS, and he was just getting started. He also paced the position with 200 hits, tied for first with 41 doubles, and only Dan Uggla (33 homers, 105) kept him from leading in the power categories as well (29, 109). Clearly the best all-around second sacker, his MVP candidacy is hurt by the fact that his lineup has superstars like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in it.
Josh Hamilton: The major league leader in batting average (.359), SLG (.633) and OPS (1.044), he also socked 32 homers and knocked in 100 runs while scoring 95 times. Moreover, the guy was insane from June through August, and I mean like he was born on Mars crazy. In 77 games he hit 22 homers and knocked in 70 runs while crossing home plate 64 times (double those numbers for a full season and you have huge numbers). The best number in those three months though is this – .410 as in his batting average over 310 at-bats!
Paul Konerko: The White Sox first basemen hit .312, just one point off his career best and his first season over .280 in four years. He also got on base at a .393 clip, a career best, while his .584 SLG was also a career-high. That obviously means he also posted a career number with a .977 OPS, the fourth best number in the AL. Konerko also fell just one homer short of his third 40-HR effort, while his 111 RBI was the third best total of his distinguished career.
Konerko had a great season, but he is a rather blah candidate who didn’t stand out. Bautista hit 54 homers, and that is an amazing feat that pushes him ahead of Konerko. Cano was great, but he is part of an offense that is stacked, and his numbers just don’t measure up to the top-2 anyways.
The winner? If Hamilton has played the whole season there is no doubt he would have won the award. However, I just can’t give it to him though, not when Cabrera was just as dangerous a hitter. With the season on the line Hamilton was limited to just five games after August 31st, and that isn’t enough for me (if he were to win the award he would become the first MVP to appear in less than 15 September games since Dick Groat in 1960). That’s why my AL MVP is Miguel Cabrera.
5- Paul Konerko
4- Jose Bautista
3- Robinson Cano
2- Josh Hamilton
1- Miguel Cabrera
By Ray Flowers