The All-Star Break is upon us, and until game action starts up again on Friday, we're going to do a brief season in review of the 2012 MLB season thusfar. Our staff has voted on a variety of awards, and we're going to roll them out over the next four days.
The MVP awards every year are usually the most hotly contested awards. Yet in our balloting, we had a unanimous winner for the American League. Unlike the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young voting, our ballots were five players long, and points were awarded in a 5-4-3-2-1 format.
1) Mike Trout (35 points, seven first place votes)
2) Josh Hamilton (28 points)
3) Robinson Cano (19 points)
4) Austin Jackson (six points)
5) Adam Jones (six points)
6) Miguel Cabrera (five points)
7) Jose Bautista (three points)
8) Mark Trumbo (two points)
9) Justin Verlander (one point)
Mike Trout is awesome. I don't know what else to say. 4.8 fWAR in just 64 games to lead the AL. An AL leading 26 stolen bases. He has a .959 OPS at age 20. He's probably going to win a Gold Glove, and is a master in the outfield. The last player to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same year was Ichiro in 2001. A solid (not even dominant) second half will ensure that Trout joins him.
After April, we were all handing Josh Hamilton the AL MVP award. Then, he got cold, and Trout took the world by storm. Hamilton is still tied for the AL lead witih 27 homers, and he still has a 1.015 OPS. Hamilton also leads the majors with 75 RBI. He also plays for one of the best teams in baseball, the Texas Rangers. The best player on the best team corollary suits itself here, but Hamilton isn't exactly chopped liver here.
Robinson Cano of the Yankees just keeps floating along as the best second baseman in baseball, and the best player on the most storied franchise in baseball history. This year, he has 20 homers and a .952 OPS at a middle infield position while also playing fantastic defense. This isn't your dad's second baseman, this is part of a new, power hitting breed.
Tigers teammates Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera are affecting the team in different ways. At the top of the order, Jackson has been an absolute sparkplug for Detroit, OPSing .953 and saving multiple runs per game in center field despite missing a quarter of the season so far. Then there's Cabrera, the pre-eminent slugger in Detroit. He's almost having a down year by his standards (which is still awesome), OPSing .939 with 18 homers in the heart of the Tigers lineup. If only his defense at third base wasn't so atrocious. Another Tiger, Justin Verlander, received a vote. He was the only pitcher to get any points in the balloting, and for good reason: he's pretty awesome, just as good as he was last year. But unlike last year, there are some great candidates in the AL this year.
How about Adam Jones of the Orioles for the biggest surprise of the year? Jones has 20 homers and an .864 OPS for Baltimore, and has added 11 stolen bases as well. For a team that is shockingly contending this year, the season that Jones is having has played a huge part in their success.
We close with a pair of monster home run hitters, Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo. Bautista's 27 homers are tied for the most in baseball, and his OPS is after .900, even after a slow start. But in a strong AL East, Bautista's numbers haven't been enough to make up for Toronto's lack of pitching. Then, there's the Angels' Trumbo, who has jacked 22 homers and OPSed .966 in the first half while playing multiple positions. The Angels have needed to get Trumbo's valuable bat in the lineup, and while Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales have struggles for parts of this season, Trumbo has consistently been a masher for the Angels.