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Friday, October 1, 2010
Stark: Several Rangers deserve awards

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- ESPN.com's Jayson Stark came out with his list of MLB awards and Josh Hamilton and Neftali Feliz are among them. Some of Stark's thoughts:

Josh Hamilton, MVP: Can a guy really win the MVP award if he gets only six plate appearances in September? Well, obviously, from the headline, you can tell that I've decided that answer is yes. But it's tricky. I know, thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau, that no position player has ever won an MVP award in a non-strike season without playing at least 10 games from Sept. 1 on. (Dick Groat was the only MVP with 10, and that was 50 years ago.) But I also know Miguel Cabrera's fantastic year has been slightly devalued, for MVP purposes, by his team's two-month disappearance from any kind of race. And the more I reflected on Hamilton's candidacy, the more I started thinking about Joe Mauer. It was Mauer who won this same MVP award last year. You might remember that. And, in quite the incredible coincidence, Mauer also missed a month of his MVP season. Nobody held it against him because he missed the first month, not the last month. But guess what? You know how many games Mauer played last year? How about 138? And if Hamilton plays all three games this weekend (as expected), he's going to wind up in a very similar neighborhood -- at 133. And Hamilton's numbers are comparable, or better, in several other noteworthy departments.

Neftali Feliz, Rookie of the Year: This is another one of those questions with no right answer. On one hand, it's hard not to like Detroit's Austin Jackson. He still has a chance to hit .300, with more than 100 runs scored, 25 steals and 185 hits. And the only rookie in history who ever had a year like that was Ichiro Suzuki, who got a 2001 Rookie of the Year trophy out of it. I've been leaning toward Jackson for weeks. But then I realized I'd become a prisoner of my own logic. If my rationale in voting for Buster Posey in the NL was that he was one of the best players -- not rookies -- in his league, I'd look like a total dope if I didn't apply the same thought process in the AL, right? And that process led me to Feliz. He hasn't simply been the most dominant rookie closer in the AL. He has been just about the most dominant closer in his league, bar none -- including Mariano Rivera. I'm not overwhelmed that Feliz has just broken the who-cares rookie saves record (with 39). But what means something is that all 39 of those saves were vital to the well-being of his first-place team. And he's blown only three saves all year, making him one of just three AL closers to convert more than 90 percent of his save opportunities.

Again, you can read all of Stark's thoughts on awards here.