Carlos Delgado (2003) Second in AL MVP Voting
Four seasons after finishing fourth in AL MVP Voting, Delgado came his closest to winning the award in 2003 in one of the tightest MVP votes to date. Eight different players received first place votes that season, including teammates Vernon Wells and Shannon Stewart who was traded halfway through the season to the Minnesota Twins.
Delgado finished just one first place vote shy of the eventual winner Alex Rodriguez. As discussed in the 2000 voting, I would be very curious to see how voting would go had steroids not played a part, as Rodriguez was one of the poster boys for enhancement use and was even suspended for a full season because of it. Delgado led the league that season in Runs Batted In (145), which he had 27 more than Rodriguez; and Delgado was also the leader in OPS (1.019).
Delgado would finish the season with his third and final Silver Slugger Award. The steroid era may not only have taken a couple of AL MVP awards from Delgado, but also a shot at the Hall of Fame, as he did not receive enough votes on his first ballot to earn a second opportunity. You have to wonder if a pair of AL MVP titles to his repertoire would have made him an easy choice for Cooperstown.
Jose Bautista (2010) Fourth in AL MVP Voting
Heading into the 2010 season, Jose Bautista was a fringe Major League ball player at best, he had a career batting average of .238 and had collected 59 home runs over parts of six seasons. However, by the end of the 2010 season Bautista would not just establish himself as an everyday player, but he was now a superstar as it would be the first of three Silver Slugger Awards and the first of six consecutive All-Star Game appearances
The season started out like many of his previous seasons with maybe a little more power. Through his first 35 games he had a batting average of .211 and had seven home runs with 23 RBI. The power numbers appeared a little bit better, but things weren’t looking like an MVP type player. Something clicked in mid-May for Bautista as he would finish the final 18 games posting a slash line of .345/.486/.927 with nine more home runs and 18 RBI.
Bautista would finish the season with a club record of 54 home runs and 124 home runs, with at that time a career high slash line of .260/.378/.617. Bautista would finish fourth in AL MVP voting and received one first place vote. The winner of the award that year was Josh Hamilton who finished the season with a .359 batting average (almost 100 points higher than Bautista). The question comes down to power over batting average as Bautista finished with 22 more home runs and was walked 100 times (57 more times than Hamilton). This season was a tight race and in my opinion could have gone to any of Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera or Bautista. I am a little curious how Robinson Cano finished third and ahead of Bautista in voting, but he was a New York Yankee, so there is that.