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Award Watch: AL MVP

June 29, 2012
  1. Josh Hamilton (Previous rank: 1) – Hamilton has cooled off since the last time we filled out an AL MVP ballot, but he’s still produced. Since his four-homer game May 8, Hamilton has only hit .258/.333/.521. But that slugging percentage is still very good, and he’s hit 22 extra base hits, including 10 homers, in those 43 games. If Hamilton’s slide continues he’ll fall down the ballot next time around.
  2. Robinson Cano (Unranked) – Cano only had one home run in the Yankees’ first 27 games. But since bottoming out at .255/.303/.355 on May 5, Cano has gone on a tear, hitting .339/.411/.717 with 17 homers and 33 extra base hits. In those 48 games Cano has 61 hits and the Yankees have gone 32-16. Cano’s .579 slugging percentage would be a career high for a season, and he’s also raised his walk percentage to a career-high 9 from a career average of 5.3 percent.
  3. Mike Trout (Unranked) – If Trout continues his stellar, best-player-in-the-game play for the next four weeks he’ll all but assured be in the No. 1 slot here. But let’s see a little bit more from him before we crown him with every title in the bag. I also don’t buy that he’s solely responsible for the Angels’ turnaround. But Trout ranks first in the AL in average (.342) and steals (22), despite making his season debut April 28. He’s 10th in slugging at .535 and eighth in OPS at .933. But he hasn’t had a rough patch yet, which we all know will come sometime. I hope he continues his great play, however.
  4. Chris Sale (Unranked) – Sale takes over for his teammate Jake Peavy in these rankings, and jumps ahead of Justin Verlander. Sale, to me, has been the best pitcher in the AL this year. His 2.27 ERA ranks first, and his 0.97 WHIP ranks second. He’s only had one rough outing on the year, a five-run start on June 15 against the Dodgers. But other than that he’s been remarkably consistent, going at least five innings every start, and averaging 7.42 innings per start in his last seven.
  5. Justin Verlander (4) – Despite getting roughed up in Tampa tonight, Verlander has still been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game this season – again. His 123.2 innings pitched are tops in the AL, and his 121 strikeouts also rank first. He’s thrown four complete games, also first. He’s fifth in ERA (2.69) and third in WHIP (0.98). But where Sale’s only had one start of more than three earned runs, Verlander has four. That’s really the only knock on Verlander so far.
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