Josh Hamilton wins the AL MVP Award

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The voting for the final award of the year is in and the trophy goes to Josh Hamilton, who beat out Miquel Cabrera and Robinson Cano for the AL MVP award.  Hamilton received 22 of the 28 first place votes. Cabrera had five and Jose Bautista — who finished fourth overall — had one.

I think Hamilton, Cabrera and, to a slightly lesser extent Cano, were all plausible choices, and if either Cabrera or Cano had won there wouldn’t be a ton of room for squawking.

Hamilton, when healthy, was probably the best player in the American League this year. But Cabrera was close and had a few more plate appearances.  Cano trailed them offensively, but was tremendously valuable on defensive and, for long stretches, carried a Yankees team that saw slumps and injuries from putative big guns Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. If I had a vote I would have given it to Hamilton, but again, this is not a year where my favored guy not getting it would have been an atrocity.

As for these results: I think that both Joey Votto’s comfortable win yesterday and Hamilton’s today shows us that voters still think of the MVP award as very much a team award, not a purely individual one. Votto’s and Pujols’ years were virtually identical, but Votto’s overwhelming margin of victory was attributable to the fact that the Reds beat the Cardinals. Some voters came right out and said so.  I think a lot of that was at work here as well, with team results hurting Cabrera while helping Hamilton and Cano.

Which did not, it should be noted, lead to any sort of injustice this season.  But it has in the past when there weren’t as many obvious good choices on contenders, and could in the future. And that’s somewhat troubling to me.  I appreciate that there are multiple definitions of the word “valuable,” but how voters have come to view the team’s overall performance as having such significance to an award that we all appreciate is an individual award is baffling.

But let’s leave that battle for another day. Today we should (a) congratulate Josh Hamilton for his award; and (b) congratulate the BBWAA for — once again — doing what I feel was a pretty damn fine job on the awards voting.

Now, if we can only do something about those gold glove voters . . .

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.