2010’s AL MVP, Josh Hamilton, hasn’t quite picked up where he left off last year so far in 2011. He hasn’t hit a home run yet, though a .316/.395/.395 line is still nothing to sneeze. A potential break-out – and one was coming eventually- will have to wait, as Hamilton broke his arm sliding into home plate today versus the Detroit Tigers. He was on third when a short pop-up was caught in foul territory, and the third-base coach sent him home with no one covering the plate. By the time a Tigers’ defender made it over, Hamilton’s only real recourse was to go in head-first. So now the Ranger’s will be without their biggest slugger for perhaps 6-8 weeks.
This is obviously not good news for Texas, but it’s not the end of the world. They’re sitting at 9-2, the best record in baseball and already with a 3.5 game lead in the AL West. Even without Hamilton for a time, the team is still in great position to maintain their position in the standings. And while Hamilton is a great player, replacing him with even a 4th outfielder for two months is unlikely to cost the Rangers more than two wins as a team (and maybe as few as one). Plus, it was never expected that he’d play a full season anyway – he’s average just 126 games played since coming to Texas. So while it’s possible that another AL West team will take advantage and make up some lost ground over the next month or two, the Rangers still appear to be the team to beat. The injury does open the door for another Ranger to make a case for the MVP award though. Perhaps Nelson Cruz?