By Scott Barzilla

The American League has had some crazy things happen this season. The struggles of Albert Pujols, the Angels, and Red Sox might be the biggest stories overall, but some very interesting and positive stories accompany that. The resurgence of the Baltimore Orioles from the ashes might be first and foremost there.

MVP: Josh Hamilton

Can there be anyone else? He has 18 home runs and 44 RBIs all while missing four of his team’s games. The Rangers have played 37 games which means he is on pace to hit about 75 home runs and drive in around 180 runs. Even if he hits only 20 more home runs and drives in only 80 more on the season he will still have 38 home runs and 124 RBIs. If he stays healthy the award is his.

Cy Young: Justin Verlander

Jered Weaver’s rough outing in Arlington took him out of this spot. The Rangers are a buzz saw right now, so I’m not counting out Weaver the rest of the way. Weaver and Jake Peavy appear to be Verlander’s main competition, but simply put, this guy is the most dominating pitcher in baseball right now. Kate Upton can throw him out of the Perfect Game Lounge, but this guy will get in anywhere else he wants to go.

Rookie of the Year: Yu Darvish

We could get into a debate over whether Darvish is really a rookie or not. He’s still 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA. Take away his very first inning against the Mariners and he would be in the Cy Young award conversation. At this point, he is a step below those guys, but considering he is learning the language, the mounds, the customs, and the hitters he is off to a great start.

Comeback Player of the Year: Adam Dunn

There were many that thought he was done. Before anyone could compile a list of “Dunn” jokes he shot out of the gate with 12 home runs and a 900+ OPS. This is the guy the White Sox thought they were signing. Of course, the jury is still out on whether it was a good idea to sign him, but at least he is giving them what they thought he would.

LVP: Albert Pujols

According to Fangraphs, Albert Pujols is the least valuable player in the American League. His -1.0 WAR is worse than any other player. Let’s remove the 250 million reasons why Angels fans are nervous. Even if he was making league minimum that would be problematic. I don’t see any way he ends up here, but no one thought he would be homerless coming into May or that he would have only 10 RBIs right now.

Anthony Young award: Clay Buchholz

Wait a minute, isn’t he 4-1? When you have an ERA over 8.00 you wind up on lists like this. However, to be perfectly fair his FIP is a more reasonable 7.20. So, mark one reason why the Red Sox are struggling more than most people thought they would. If Buchholz doesn’t watch it, he will end up being the 2012 version of John Lackey.

Surprising Team (Positive): Baltimore Orioles

This is a team that hasn’t been relevant since Cal Ripken Jr. was breaking the consecutive games streak. You keep waiting for the other shoe to drop because you look at their pitching staff and you look at the lineups in that division and keep thinking this dream is going to end sometime. Most are rooting for them to keep going.

Surprising Team (Negative): Los Angeles Angels

I could just as easily go Boston here, but Boston has had a rash of injuries. Their struggles can be more easily explained. This team is virtually 100 percent healthy and enjoying great seasons from Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Mike Trout is up and performing well. Somehow they continue to find ways to lose games. Every time they seem to win a few they find some way to get derailed. It’s really bizarre.

Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter

To put this as simply and succinctly as possible, I have no idea how they are doing it. When that happens you have to tip your cap to the manager. The question will be how long they are able to keep this up.

Manager on the Hot Seat: Bobby Valentine

Normally I would never put a first year manager here, but I think this hire was doomed from the moment it was made. A market like Boston needs a calming influence. Both New York and Boston are firestorm media markets where every hiccup is blown out of proportion. Valentine is an arsonist when it comes to putting out clubhouse fires. That might work in some mid market towns where a team might need a fire lit under them. The Red Sox don’t need anymore controversy.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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