Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Josh Hamilton joins Rangers' MVP elite
By Richard Durrett
Josh Hamilton won Tuesday's BBWAA AL MVP Award, but he isn't the first Rangers player to do so. In fact, four other Texas players have won the award, including two-time winner Juan Gonzalez. A quick look at those players:
Jeff Burroughs (1974): The outfielder claimed the award during a memorable 1974 season for Texas. The club finished 84-76 and in second place behind eventual world champion Oakland. That same year, Mike Hargrove earned rookie of the year honors, Billy Martin was named manager of the year and Fergie Jenkins was comeback player of the year. Burroughs hit .301 with 25 homers and a league-leading 118 RBIs. He is one of only five No. 1 overall draft pick to win the MVP. Hamilton, interestingly, could be added to that list today as he was taken first overall in 1999).
Juan Gonzalez (1996, 1998): In 1996, the outfielder hit .314 with a .643 slugging percentage, helping him barely edge past Alex Rodriguez for the MVP (Gonzalez got one more first-place vote). Like Hamilton, Gonzalez had one really spectacular summer month. He hit .407 with 15 homers and 38 RBIs in July. In 1998, Gonzalez had 100 RBIs before the All-Star break and finished top-5 in the AL in most of the key hitting categories. This time, it wasn't a close vote. In both 1996 and 1998, the Rangers won the AL West before falling in the first round of the playoffs to the Yankees.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez (1999): The Rangers were once again AL West champions and Rodriguez was a big reason why. He hit 35 homers, then a record for catchers. He was the first catcher to hit at least 30 homers, drive in 100 runs and score 100 runs in major league history. At one point during 1999, Rodriguez had a 20-game hitting streak. He also managed to steal 25 bases, fifth most by any catcher in history. He was named on all ballots.
Alex Rodriguez (2003): In his last season with the Rangers, the then shortstop won the MVP despite playing on a team that was 71-91. He led the AL in home runs, runs scored and slugging percentage. He had finished in the top-10 of the MVP voting five times before finally winning the award. Rodriguez pounded out 47 homers and 118 RBIs while hitting .298. He was 17-for-20 in stolen base attempts and had a .996 OPS, playing in all but one game.