Baseball's award season is upon us and we finally have a vote that counts for something this year. We're proud members of the Baseball Blogger Alliance and they've been kind enough to give us ballots. The only thing the BBWAA ever gave us was George Bell as the AL MVP in 1987. It's not like Wade Boggs was worth 4 more wins and had .461 OBP or anything. Today we'll be unveiling our AL Stan Musial ballot for player of the year. Note: I completely ignored RBI.
1. Josh Hamilton
Hamilton missed the last month of the regular season and was still the best player in ALL of baseball. His 8.0 WAR (wins above replacement) led the majors and he finished with a .359/.411/.633 (BA/OBP/SLG) line. He'd probably be a unanimous choice for the MVP if he played the final month and added 6-8 homers to his 32 regular season dingers. Like Joe Mauer last year, Hamilton did more missing a month than anyone else did with a full season.
2. Miguel Cabrera
There were players who finished with a higher WAR than Miggy's 6.2 but I have a hard time looking past his .328/.420/.622 line. Getting on base at a 42% clip is extremely valuable and even more so if you can hit 38 home runs to boot. I did not take Cabrera's ability to win an arepa eating contest into my voting.
3. Jose Bautista
A retooled swing and regular playing time led to 54 home runs and a .260/.378/.617 line. While I'm not going to sit here and tell you I think he can repeat this season, I do have a hunch about the breakout season. Poutine. Not sure when this became a food based post.
4. Adrian Beltre
Give Beltre a contract season and the guy is a monster. Beltre hit 28 home runs and .321/.365/.533 for an AL second best 7.1 WAR. Much of Beltre's value comes from playing excellent defense at third base (11.8 UZR) and he'll surely be in high demand in the off season. Hey, the Angels could use a third baseman who doesn't hit .180 and strikeout more than my friend Jason at a strip club.
5. Felix Hernandez
My AL pitcher of the year.
6. Evan Longoria
Considering Longoria was the best player on the best team, this might be a low ranking for him. He hit 22 home runs and .294/.372/.507 while playing superb defense at third base (11.1 UZR). His 6.9 WAR is basically a toss up with anyone not named Josh Hamilton. Perhaps I'm just bitter because I suspect he dated nothing but the hottest Southern California cheerleaders while growing up.
7. Robinson Cano
Missing in action, Off Base co-founder and resident Yankee fan, Derwood Morris, was not pleased when I informed him of Cano's place on my ballot. Too bad, buddy. Return an email every once in a while. Sorry, interoffice politics. Cano had an MVP caliber season and I actually expected him to be ranked higher than seventh here. He raked for a .319/.381/.534 line with 29 home runs. But he finished with a negative UZR at second base which I'm sure he learned by watching Jeter.
8. Carl Crawford
Crawford is a beast in the outfield posting an 18.5 UZR and instantly makes a pitching staff better. He had another one of the toss up 6.9 WARs in the AL hitting 19 homers and a .307/.356/.495 line. I try to not to be a huge homer around here but a potential Crawford, Torii Hunter, Peter Bourjos outfield makes me giggle like a school girl.
9. Cliff Lee
My close second best AL pitcher of the year.
10. Shin-Soo Choo
I'm not just throwing Cleveland a bone here because of the quick downfalls of Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner. I actually hope they both find a resurgence because I enjoy the nickname "Pronk." But with Cleveland's recent string of luck, Choo will get called for the military service he owes Korea and Cleveland's post season hopes will fade away on a sad note like the Drew Carey Show. Oh, here are some stats. Choo hit 22 homers and .320/.401/.484 for a 5.6 WAR.