Josh Hamilton named player of year by his peers

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The players have spoken, and according to them, Josh Hamilton is the best among them.

The Texas Rangers center fielder, who has tormented the New York Yankees with four home runs in the ALCS, has been named Sporting News’ player of the year, as selected by a panel of 326 Major League Baseball players.

Hamilton is a fine choice, hitting .359/.411/.633 with 32 home runs and 100 RBIs despite playing only 133 games this season due to injuries. He also plays a mean – and aggressive – center field, which is part of the reason for his injuries. (Stop running into walls!)

While you could make an argument for the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto and Albert Pujols, to name a few, it’s tough to gripe about Hamilton ultimately being the choice.

Also announced were the top pitchers (Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay), rookies (Austin Jackson, Jason Heyward), managers (Ron Gardenhire, Bud Black), comeback players (Vladimir Guerrero, Tim Hudson) and relievers (Rafael Soriano, Heath Bell), as well as an All-Star team, which you can check out here.

Getting back to Hamilton, it’s nice to see the former No. 1 draft pick begin to realize his promise. While there is no need to glorify or over-dramatize the man, we can still point out the long journey he has taken to reach this point, fighting an ongoing battle with drug and alcohol addiction along the way. It must be rewarding for him to be recognized by his peers for having such a remarkable season.

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Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.