CF JOSH HAMILTON
Say what you want about Hamilton, but he’s as gifted a player as there is in the game today. It’s like he can roll out of bed, slip on his uniform and rattle off a 3-for-4, two-homer, three-RBI night just about any time he goes out there.
Though a second-half slump denied him AL honors in homers and RBIs, and also knocked him out of an MVP race that he seemed to own for the majority of the season’s first four months, the 6-4, 240-pounder remains arguably the most dangerous offensive weapon in baseball. He finished 2012’s regular season with a .285 batting average, 43 homers and 103 RBIs in 562 at-bats.
Clearly, he can hit … any time … anywhere.
The 31-year-old also has some postseason experience under his belt, and shown some pop in the process. In 33 games, he has six homers and 22 RBIs, although his batting average of .234 leaves much to be desired. But this will be his third straight foray into the meaningful games division of the sport, as the Rangers will be shooting for a third straight World Series visit … with the hope of a different outcome from the previous two seasons.
DH CHRIS DAVIS
While center fielder Adam Jones is the one, true “ready for prime-time” player on the Orioles roster, Davis has been on fire of late, and he was productive throughout 2012 as Baltimore shared the Cinderella spotlight with Oakland.
In 139 games, the left-handed hitting DH drilled 33 homers, knocked in 85 runs and scored 75 while batting a respectable .270 in 515 at-bats. But he went off down the stretch as the O’s made a valiant push to overtake the Yankees in the AL East.
Only Robinson Cano’s Herculean efforts saved the Bronx Bombers from having to face Texas in Friday’s play-in game instead of Baltimore. Over the last week, Davis belted seven homers, knocked in 13 runs, scored nine and batted .360. But it wasn’t enough as the Yanks held on.
Still, largely due to his offensive fireworks, the O’s sealed their first postseason berth since 1996. He and Jones (.287 batting average, 32 homers, 82 RBIs, 103 runs scored) gives Baltimore a wonderful 1-2 punch in its lineup, which is something that will be required for them right out of the chute, considering the arsenal Texas brings to the table.
3B CHIPPER JONES
We’re talking old school here. Pitcher Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57 ERA) seems an obvious choice as the Braves’ key guy right now, and will take the mound in the play-in game Friday against St. Louis. However, you just get the sense that the longtime veteran with 92 postseason games under his belt will have something to say during his last go-’round. At least that’s what Atlanta hopes.
Slowed by injuries of late, or being given the opportunity to pace himself heading into the playoffs since it was apparent the Braves had a berth locked up for quite some time, Jones’ numbers haven’t been eye-popping. But he had a solid season (.287, 14 homers, 62 RBIs in just 387 at-bats) and he has been consistently solid once the games really mean something.
RHP KYLE LOHSE
Prior to this season, Lohse had been a sub-.500 pitcher in his career. The 34-year-old right-hander somehow put it altogether in 2012, his 11th season, going 16-3 in 33 starts with a 2.86 ERA. Though not overpowering (143 strikeouts in 211 innings), he’s always had decent stuff.
The Cardinals need him to come up big in Friday's winner-moves-on showdown with Atlanta, and then to come back and factor in the next round as well if they hope to do any damage. The rest of the staff is OK, especially in the case of Lance Lynn (18-7, 3.78 ERA), and it has postseason experience. The offense has some pop, too, with 100-RBI guy Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran leading the way, but it hasn’t been consistent enough to make St. Louis a dominant team this season.
The Cardinals, going by record, are the weakest team in the NL’s postseason field, having posted just 88 wins. They’re also putting a lot on Lohse, who hasn’t exactly been lights out in the playoffs.
2012 MLB Award Predictions: Who Will Win MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of The Year & Comeback Player Awards?
The 2012 MLB regular season has come to a rather dramatic close. Commissioner Bud Selig and fans were not left disappointed come game 162. Entering Wednesday’s games, only the Wild Card teams in the NL and both third seeds (Giants and Tigers) had been determined. The Reds and Nationals were still fighting for the top seed in the NL, while the A’s, Orioles, Rangers, and Yankees all fought to win their respective divisions and stay out of the Wild Card game. But now that the madness has subsided for the time being (except Oakland, keep partying, that was a memorable run), it’s time to put the season in perspective. Here are my predictions for the 2012 awards season.
NL MVP: C Buster Posey, Giants
2nd: OF Ryan Braun, Brewers
3rd: OF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Other high vote getter: C Yadier Molina, Cardinals