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Award Watch: AL MVP

May 23, 2012
  1. Josh Hamilton – This one isn’t even all that close. Hamilton is the best player on arguably the best team in the American League. As you all know, from May 7 to the 13 Hamilton hit .467/.529/1.433, with nine home runs and 18 RBI, including a four home-run game – a week we probably won’t see again from any player this season. In the nine games since then Hamilton hasn’t homered and is only getting on base at a .324 clip. But he still leads everyone in WAR, home runs and slugging percentage.
  2. Adam Jones – Jones is breaking out at age 26; in his last 10 games he’s hitting 16-for-42 (.364) with five multi-hit games and four home runs. He’s the best player on the team with the best record in the AL. Plus, he’s raised his walk percentage and lowered his strikeout percentage this year. He’s also raised his Isolated Power (ISO), which measures how good hitters are at hitting for extra bases, to .289 this year, over 100 points better than any other season. A .250 ISO is “excellent,” according to Fangraphs. Jones is on pace to hit 52 home runs and steal 23 bases.
  3. Paul Konerko – Konerko just won’t quit, will he? Three years after most “experts” said he was done, and after two great seasons in ’10 and ’11 Konerko is even better this year. He ranks first (.455) in OBP and second (.608) in slugging among AL hitters after going for a .388 OBP and a .517 SLG last year. The White Sox have surprised with their play so far this year, and their +8 run differential is the best in the AL Central, even though they’re in second place. They could make a run for a division title with the Indians due for a bit of regression and the Tigers struggling.
  4. Justin Verlander – Verlander’s been the best pitcher in the AL so far this season, and remarkably he’s been even better than he was last year. He’s improved his strikeout, walk and home run rates, and his FIP (2.24) is almost the same as his ERA (2.14), which means that the good times should keep coming for the reigning MVP.
  5. Jake Peavy – Peavy’s finally back to the San Diego Peavy in his fourth season in Chicago. He’s got two complete games, including one shutout, so far and he ranks in the top seven among AL pitchers in BB/9, HR/9 and innings pitched. He’s only had one bad game so far (six ER in 5.1 IP) and he has six starts of two or fewer earned runs.
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