Hamilton's remarkable story should culminate with an AL MVP

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When Josh Hamilton was suspended indefinitely from baseball in 2004, few thought he would ever fulfill the potential that made him the No. 1 overall pick 11 years ago.

On Tuesday, though, Hamilton's remarkable comeback story could add another chapter when the Baseball Writers' Association of America hands out the American League's Most Valuable Player award.

Everyone knows the story with Hamilton. Selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999, Hamilton was injured early in his minor league career and fell into a pattern of drug abuse shortly thereafter that ultimately got him suspended from the game.

Tampa eventually cut ties with the outfielder in 2006, leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft where he was selected by the Chicago Cubs before being moved to the Cincinnati Reds later in the day.

Hamilton shined for the Reds in 2007, but was dealt to the Texas Rangers the following winter. Hamilton's comeback really took off in Arlington, as he became an All-Star in 2008, stealing the show with a breathtaking performance in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium that year.

Josh Hamilton topped the AL with a .359 average and a .633 slugging percentage.
Following an injury-plagued 2009, Hamilton helped lead the Rangers to their first AL West crown since 1999, as he topped the AL with a .359 average and a .633 slugging percentage. He had 32 home runs, 95 runs scored, 40 doubles, and 100 RBI, despite missing most of the final month with fractured ribs.

He is the first American League player with minimums of a .359 average, 40 doubles, 30 home runs, and 100 RBI since Lou Gehrig in 1934. Not bad company.

It is hard to hand out an MVP award to a player who missed the majority of the final month of the season like Hamilton, but in his case it is warranted.

The Rangers, for the most part, had the AL West wrapped up at the start of September when Hamilton crashed into a wall and fractured a pair of ribs. Luckily, the Rangers were able to afford him the time to heal up and did not need him for a stretch run.

Honestly, though, if not Hamilton then who is the AL MVP?

New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano blossomed into one of the game's best all-around players this season, but his numbers still fell short to Hamilton.

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera was terrific and led the majors with 126 RBI, while hitting .328 with 38 home runs. Also he scored or drove in 26-percent of the Tigers total runs with little or no protection around him.

Of course the biggest problem Cabrera has going for him is the fact that he played for the 81-81 Tigers. Only one player since 1991 has won an MVP while playing for a team that finished at .500 or worse and that was Alex Rodriguez, who did it with the 91-loss Rangers in 2003.

Then there's Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista, who led the majors with 54 home runs, but keep in mind no position player has ever won a league MVP with a batting average as low as his .260.

In the end, though, this one should be all about Josh Hamilton.


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