Most Valuable Player is probably the trickiest award given out every year. If you thought the Cy Young criteria was complicated, this is far worse. At least with the Cy Young, the tabulation is made based on actual performance (usually), the dominance of a given pitcher during their season regardless of team performances around them (usually), and the fact that it's really an individual award given to an individual player who simply was the best in a season.
The MVP, however, kind of throws that all out of the window. The MVP award is given based on a plethora of different standards of judgment, such as whether a team made the playoffs, when the player performed the best during the season, statistical value metrics, statistical performance metrics, and any other number of gut feelings that the particular BBWAA voter might call to mind.
What defines value is what makes this so tricky. I'm of the opinion that April dingers count as much as September dingers, they just seem huger given the scarcity of playing time. I'm also of the opinion that the timing of hits during a game counts toward a player's value (mind you, WPA has no predictive value, so I'm not making commentary on a player's SKILL level, but more just their performance in a given timeframe). Other people might feel that strictly looking at the counting stats (hits, RBI, HR, what have you) is sufficient to determine which player was the "most valuable".
Honestly, the MVP is the most subjective award, because many a voter determines some aspects to be far more important than others, while another writer might not even consider them to be even worth taking into consideration (playing for a Playoff team would be an example of this).
This all being said, the Purple Row staff went ahead and did their crazy voting, and the totals reflect the following MVP.
Results past the jump.
1. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
#32 / Center Field / Texas Rangers
May 21, 1981
|2010 - Josh Hamilton||133||518||95||186||40||3||32||100||43||95||8||1||.359||.411||.633|
Hamilton has had a storied career, coming up as a top flight prospect after having been drafted 1st overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Various problems in Hamilton's personal life caused the Rays to not protect him in the 2006 Rule 5 draft, and the Chicago Cubs selected him. He was later purchased by the Cincinnati Reds, where he finally made his major league debut at age 26. The following season he was traded from Cincinnati to Texas in exchange for Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera, and despite injury concerns for both Volquez and Herrera, the trade seems to have benefitted both teams.
Enough about Josh Hamilton's past and career. This season, Hamilton led MLB in Batting Average (.359), SLG (.633), OPS (1.044), and wOBA (.447). He led the AL in wRAA (57.6) and was 2nd in OBP (.411). His standard counting stats are a bit lower (5th in HR, 12th in RBI) because of a mostly-missed September (bruised ribs incurred while chasing a fly ball and running into the fence - sound familiar?), but as the wRAA suggests, his production while healthy was far enough above his contemporaries that he was STILL the most valuable bat in the AL.
Hamilton also leads MLB in WAR, being rated as +7.9 runs above average between CF and LF (mostly LF), and combining that with his league-leading wRAA, Josh Hamilton is the cream of the crop at a whopping 8.0 Wins Above Replacement.
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
#24 / First Base / Detroit Tigers
Apr 18, 1983
|2010 - Miguel Cabrera||150||548||111||180||45||1||38||126||89||95||3||3||.328||.420||.622|
Past the unanimous Hamilton vote, every writer voted for a different player in 2nd (except Fish and Russ). When the final votes were tallied, Cabrera was the 2nd highest by a nose.
Cabrera spend most of the season nipping at Hamilton's heels, and depending where you place your value in measurement, perhaps even surpassed Hamilton. Cabrera led the AL in RBI (126), OBP (.420), 2nd in AVG (.328), SLG (.622), wOBA (.429), wRAA (56.0) 3rd in HR (38), and finished 7th in WAR (6.2, mostly deflated by poor fielding at 1B). All in all an excellent season for Cabrera.
3. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
#19 / Right Field / Toronto Blue Jays
Oct 19, 1980
|2010 - Jose Bautista||161||569||109||148||35||3||54||124||100||116||9||2||.260||.378||.617|
Bautista was one of the most interesting stories in baseball this year, leading the majors with a whopping 54 home runs. For a guy who'd never broken 20 in his career (Bautista hit 16 with Pittsburgh in 2006) this certainly raised some eyebrows.
Bautista rounded out his season with those 54 homers (a Toronto record), which ties him for 10th all time for single-season homers hit in the AL; 124 RBI, good for 3rd in the AL; 109 runs scored, 5th in the AL; .422 wOBA, 3rd in the AL; 55.6 wRAA, also 3rd; 6.9 WAR, 3rd again. Seems like statistically speaking, Bautista is a solid 3rd place vote.
4. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
#24 / Second Base / New York Yankees
Oct 22, 1982
|2010 - Robinson Cano||160||626||103||200||41||3||29||109||57||77||3||2||.319||.381||.534|
Cano finished his 2010 campaign with a 6.4 WAR, which beats out Rickie Weeks of the Brewers, Kelly Johnson of the Diamondbacks, Chase Utley of the Phillies, and Dan Uggla of the Marlins. He also finished 6th in wOBA (.389) and posted a .319/.381/534 batting line. Cano graded out as roughly average at 2B, but when you consider that kind of plate production, his value was undeniable.
5. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
#3 / Third Base / Tampa Bay Rays
Oct 07, 1985
|2010 - Evan Longoria||151||574||96||169||46||5||22||104||72||124||15||5||.294||.372||.507|
Longoria finished his season a decimal point behind Jose Bautista in the WAR department, also at a 6.9 WAR (but you know rounding and stuff). Per UZR, he was the 8th best fielder in the AL, posting 11.1 runs above average at 3B. Along with his high WAR total, Longoria batted a .294/.372/.507 line, good for a .879 OPS and a .376 wOBA.
Ed. Note: Full Voting Results