© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
11/17/08 5:33 PM EST
Hamilton looking for top honor
Rangers slugger a strong candidate for AL MVP Award
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- On the final weekend of the season, when it was all over, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was able to look back with satisfaction at what he was able to accomplish in his first year in Texas.
"It was a great season," Hamilton said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more. I had a great bunch of teammates and the fans were great to me. The only thing I wish is we could have stayed in contention to the end, but other than that, it was a great season."
The offseason hasn't been bad either. The awards are pouring in for Hamilton. He already has been named the American League's Outstanding Player in the Player's Choice Awards, as well as the Rangers Player of the Year. He was also a member of the American League Silver Slugger team.
The big one may be yet to come. Hamilton is one of the leading contenders for the American League's Most Valuable Player Award, as voted upon by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The award will be announced at 1 p.m. CT Tuesday afternoon.
"There's no doubt in my mind that Josh Hamilton should be an MVP candidate," Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. "He's as good a candidate as there is. Just look at the season he had."
The season is worth a second look. Hamilton hit .304 with 98 runs scored, 32 home runs and a league-leading 130 RBIs. He finished with a .901 OPS that was sixth in the league, a combination of a .371 on-base percentage and a .530 slugging percentage.
He had 29 RBIs that put his team ahead, third most in the league, and he had 13 game-winning RBIs, tied for the 10th most in the league. He was the American League Player of the Month for both April and May.
"Josh meant so much to our club this year, especially when he got hot in the first half and helped turn the season around," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "It seemed like he found a different way to impact the game every night. It was one of those seasons that you really enjoy watching -- never know when you'll see another like it."
Hamilton appeared to be a lock for the MVP at the All-Star break when he was hitting .310 with 21 home runs and 95 RBIs. He just wasn't able to keep up the pace in the second half as he started to wear down from playing in his first full season in the Major Leagues.
But he still wove a remarkable story in his amazing comeback from drug and alcohol abuse. He essentially missed 3 1/2 seasons while dealing with his personal issues. He finally made his Major League debut with the Reds in 2007 but was limited to 90 games because of a variety of injuries.
The Rangers acquired him last winter in a trade for pitcher Edinson Volquez in a deal that worked out well for both teams. Hamilton still had to deal with physical issues this past season, including a sore lower back that required treatment every day. But he still played in 156 games even though the Rangers were openly saying in Spring Training that 140 games would be the best-case scenario.
Hamilton would be the fifth Rangers player to be named the AL MVP. Jeff Burroughs won the award in 1974, Juan Gonzalez won in 1996 and 1998, Ivan Rodriguez won in 1999 and Alex Rodriguez was honored in 2003.