How he can win: The 2010 AL MVP, Josh Hamilton developed into a pure power hitter last year, slugging 43 home runs and driving in 128 runs, shattering his previous numbers in those categories. He hits for a pretty solid average as well (.285 with a .354 OBP last year), and needless to say, constantly stood as the central threat in a dangerous Texas lineup over the past few years, which finished in World Series appearances in 2010 and ’11. If Hamilton can continue hitting for power while rekindling his ability to hit for average and OBP at a very high level, he’ll have a great MVP shot.
Why he might not: Hamilton hit .359 with a .411 OBP in 2010, while also leading the league in slugging percentage. Over the past two seasons, that’s proven to be a torrid pace he just couldn’t keep up with. He’s remained among the best in the majors, but he’ll probably have to return to superhuman form to have a shot. In reality, he’s 32 this year and just signed to a very lucrative five-year contract. It might be ironic, but big deals are often made before a player declines, not while he’s still on the rise. We’ll see how Hamilton handles the big payday.