Two months in to the season, Josh Hamilton was the front-runner for the American League MVP award, and no one else was close. He was batting .368 with 21 home runs and 57 RBI's, and he had won both Player of the Month awards.
Four months later, it's doubtful whether he was the MVP of the 2012 Rangers. You'll hear more support around North Texas for Adrian Beltre than Hamilton.
Ranger fans who have watched this team all year, and those who think Beltre is the team's MVP this season, point to Beltre's consistency. And they point to Hamilton's inconsistency, which has been shocking. He followed up his tremendous April-May with a horrible June-July (.223 batting average in June, .177 in July). After 21 home runs in the first two months, he hit eight in June and July.
As a team, the Rangers have been inconsistent too. They got off to a great start, with a 17-6 record in April. In July, Hamilton's worst month of the season, they were 9-14.
There is not a perfect symmetry between Hamilton's hot streaks and the Rangers.' But there's enough to make the case that as Hamilton went, so went the Rangers. And when debating the team MVP award, this should enter the discussion. The correlation between Hamilton's play and how the team does points to his importance in the lineup.
That's the argument ... but I don't buy it either. If I had a vote for the Rangers team MVP award, I'd vote for Beltre. His offensive stats are close to Hamilton's, and when you add in his defense and the way he has scratched and clawed to get into the lineup on nights when he's hurt, that's enough to sway my vote.
It will be interesting to see how the national writers vote between Beltre and Hamilton. Up close, we saw all of Hamilton's flaws; from afar, it's easier to see only 43 home runs and 128 RBIs.
As for the American League MVP Award, which will be handed out after the playoffs, that's between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. Everyone else is playing for third.