Rangers’ Hamilton earns AL’s MVP award
NEW YORK | Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton was a runaway winner of the American League’s Most Valuable Player award.
Hamilton overcame eight trips to rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction to lead the major leagues in batting average (.359) and slugging percentage (.633) and help the Rangers reach their first World Series. He had 32 homers and 100 RBIs despite missing time nearly all of September because of two broken ribs.
“I would say a 99 percent chance that this would never happen,” Hamilton said, chuckling. “I mean, honestly, I think a lot of people would agree with that.”
After going on the disabled list in 2001 while in the minor leagues, he became addicted to alcohol and cocaine. He didn’t play from 2003-05.
“I do reflect. If I didn’t reflect, ‘I’ might start sneaking in there, a little ego might start sneaking in there, and that’s one thing I don’t want to happen,” Hamilton said. “So I do reflect and I think about where I was at my lowest time.”
His story has inspired his teammates.
“It’s awesome, everybody makes mistakes in their lives and everybody deserves a second chance,” Rangers teammate David Murphy said before voting was announced. “A lot of people don’t take advantage of that second chance. But he took it and he ran with it.”
“There were other guys around the league who had great years, but seeing Josh, what he was able to do, it’s pretty impressive,” teammate Michael Young said. “You don’t see guys go three-month stretches where they hit .400, it’s just too difficult to do.”
Hamilton is the sixth Rangers MVP, following Jeff Burroughs (1974), Juan Gonzalez (1996, 1998), Ivan Rodriguez (1999) and Alex Rodriguez (2003).
Cincinnati’s Joey Votto was voted NL MVP on Monday. Votto and Hamilton were together on the Reds in 2007.
“He was just what everybody expected him to be,” Hamilton said. “I knew he was a great player and knew what he was capable of, and he showed people this year exactly that.”
Selected by Tampa Bay with the top pick in the 1999 amateur draft, Hamilton didn’t make an impact in the majors until 2008, when he won the All-Star Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium and led the AL with 130 RBIs.
Injuries limited Hamilton to 89 games the following year, when he hit .268 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs.