No Insult to Injury: Rangers Outfielder Josh Hamilton Crowned AL MVP

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REUTERS/Mike Segar

Even broken ribs and missed games couldn’t limit the astonishing impact he made as a Texas Ranger. (Via the New York Times)

Despite missing 25 of the final 30 regular season games with that injury, Josh Hamilton has captured his first American League MVP honor. The Rangers’ sensational slugger received 22 of 28 first-place votes, leading his team to its first division crown since 1999 and its first Fall-Classic appearance in history.

(See TIME’s special on the first 100 Years of the World Series.)

Minus his team’s accomplishments, Hamilton was a tier above the rest of the American League in all the bread-and-butter offensive categories. He swept the first-place spots in overall batting average (.359), average with runners in scoring position (.369), slugging percentage (.633) and OPS (1.044).

The award is another benchmark within Hamilton’s transformation from his dark past. He authored a July 2007 piece for ESPN The Magazine, chronicling his struggles with drugs. Five years after being selected as the first overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball draft, Hamilton’s addiction issues knocked him out of baseball. From 2004-06, he was without an MLB home, ironing out his personal problems.

(See TIME’s special on historic MLB home runs.)

Hamilton’s signature quote in the ESPN piece was “I’m proof that no hope is lost.” Sitting six months shy of his 30th birthday, his play on the field this season continued to breed truth behind that statement.