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Josh Hamilton named AL MVP

Hamilton3 In the latest chapter of an amazing story, Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was honored Tuesday as the American League Most Valuable Player.

Hamilton, who lost four years of his career to drug and alcohol addiction, received 22 of the 28 first-place votes. He hit .359 with 32 home runs and 100 runs batted in, leading the major leagues in batting average, slugging percentage (.633) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.044).

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers got five first-place votes and finished second, with Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees finishing third. Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays got the lone remaining first-place vote and finished fourth.

No Angel was among the 20 players receiving votes. The ballot required voters to list 10 choices.

The Tampa Bay Rays selected Hamilton with the first overall pick of the 1999 draft, but a combination of injuries and suspensions derailed his career. In 2006, he played 15 games at the Class A level, his first competitive action in four years.

The Cincinnati Reds acquired him via the Rule 5 draft, forcing them to keep him in the major leagues or risk losing him. He hit .292 with 19 home runs in 2007. The Reds then traded him to the Rangers for pitcher Edinson Volquez. In Texas, Hamilton established himself as one of the game's elite players.

In 2008, in his first season as an everyday player in the majors, he hit .304 with 32 home runs and a league-leading 130 RBI. In one game, the Rays intentionally walked him with the bases loaded. He also stole the show at the home run derby at Yankee Stadium, hitting 28 homers in one round.

He led the Rangers to their first World Series this year, and the national stage offered him another platform to tell his story. He did not shy away. In 2005, the last of his lost years, he said, he used cocaine while visiting his grandmother.

"That's when I really knew I had a problem -- I'm doing this in the house of the woman I loved the most," he said at the World Series. "She confronted me one night when I came out of the back bedroom, because she knew something wasn't right.

"She told me the things I had heard so many times: 'You're killing yourself, you're killing us by making us worry, you're a better person than this, you can do great things' -- all these things I had heard from different people. God really opened my heart and cleared my head and allowed me to hear Him for the first time.

"To see the pain and tears on her face, that's the moment I went back into the bedroom, grabbed the Bible I had hidden at the bottom of my clothes in the back of the closet and closed the door. ... At that moment, I re-committed my life to Christ and started moving forward."

-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Josh Hamilton follows through on a double against the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 27. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

 
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