The last ballot to be awarded this awards season is the Stan Musial award aka the AL MVP. I am honored to be tasked with filling out one of the Twins chapter ballots for the award and, since I didn’t get started until the day before the due date, no further preamble is necessary:
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas
Hamilton put up an astounding 182 wRC+ on his way to an 8 fWAR season for the AL Champs. His .411 OBP set a new career high, as did a.274 ISO. The only knock on Hamilton is that he did have some BABIP luck, but any way you slice it Hamilton was the best player in the AL This year.
2. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Boston
Beltre was always overshadowed in Seattle, and I guessed he would have a big offensive year in Boston. I didn’t know it would be this big though, as Beltre posted a .390 wOBA for Boston. He also continued to play his customarily great defense at the hot corner.
3. Jose Bautista, 3B, Toronto
The man led the league in homers. That’s about all that needs to be said, but he also had a career high 14.6% walk rate, which was 3rd best in the AL.
4. Cliff Lee, LHP, Seattle/Texas
I think I am missing something re: Lee v. Felix, because everything I see tells me Lee was the better pitcher. He had one of the best K/BB of all time, and although he threw 30+ innings less than Felix, he still accumulated more WAR.
5. Carl Crawford, LF, Tampa
Perhaps a bit of a sentimental vote here because I’ve always liked Crawford and everything he brought to Tampa, but he also had a pretty good year this year. his 141 wRC+ was a career high, and he seems to have started to figure out the whole hitting for power thing.
6. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle
Felix had the best FIP, bes k/9 and oh so close to the best BB/9 of his career in 2010. He also threw almost 250 innings. But because he didn’t pitch in either Boston or New York he shouldn’t be eligible for awards.
7. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York
Cano is the Yankees fans sentimental favorite for MVP, but I just don’t see him any higher than this (depending on how you feel about pitchers belonging in the MVP race). He hit slightly better than Crawford this year, but numbers and scouting reports alike like Crawford much much more as a defender.
8. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa
Longoria set his career high in wRC+ this year (though his wOBA was lower than last year’s). UZR liked his defense (comparatively speaking) less than in previous years, but it’s evident that he is one of the best defensive 3B in the majors.
9. Shin Soo-Choo, OF, Cleveland
I wanted to put Choo higher because I think he is the most underrated player in baseball, but here we are. Choo had a .388 wOBA and although he has always had his fair share of strikeouts he cut them down dramatically this year, around 20% rather than hovering around 25% the previous couple of years. He also raised his walk rate, and was 7th in the AL in that regard.
10. Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota
Really. The guy who was lost in mid-July to a concussion warrants an MVP vote. He still accumulated the most value on the Twins with his bat, contributing 35.5 runs. Fun fact, he contributed 33.8 runs in his entire MVP season of 2006. Even if you accept that his defense is not as good as UZR says it was this year (and it’s not), Morneau did everything with the bat this year: hitting, hitting for power, walking, and even getting lucky with BABIP. In his half season, he had a wOBA of .447 and a 187 wRC+.