The final award is probably the one with the most candidates (close to ten players have various cases for the award), but Josh Hamilton seems to be the favorite due to his sparkling performance (and, let’s face it, he’s still getting bonus points for turning his life around, which is extremely impressive but irrelevant to this discussion). Your own Robinson Cano has been awesome this season stabilizing the Yankee lineup, but he’s pretty far back when the wins above replacement numbers do all the number-crunching. Unfortunately, his great season hasn’t been one of the top 5 AL performances of the season, and while you can make an argument to get in the top 5, there aren’t too many to get him into the top spot. I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, especially because I think there’s a half-way decent chance he walks away with the award, but he isn’t the AL MVP. Let’s look at the rest of the arguments.
Let’s start with the favorite, again. FanGraphs has him blowing away the competition with 8.0 fWAR, 0.9 above anyone else, but Baseball-Reference has him 6th, actually right behind Cano. Hamilton’s offensive numbers are staggering—.359/.411/.633 for a wOBA of .447(!)—and his defense (+8 UZR) has been an additional positive and another point of contention. The offense has been legitimately outstanding, and there’s no debate about that (though, there are serious questions about his ability to repeat it, but that’s for another day). B-Ref hates his defense by valuing it 6 runs below average, and if you adjusted it closer to +8 (like UZR), Hamilton’s bWAR of 6.0 would be much closer to Longoria’s 7.7. So who do you believe? I went on record yesterday saying I don’t like B-Ref’s way of doing it because it hated on Zimmerman, but let’s take a look. UZR has seen him as a slightly above-average defender 3 of the past 4 seasons, and while the +8 seems a bit too optimistic, it seems only slightly off. B-Ref’s defensive metric bounces around on Hamilton from 5 to -3 to 8 to -6 this season. UZR seems more consistent, and I’ll take its word for it with less skepticism. We’ll give his B-Ref a win boost.
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