Hamilton making charge in AL MVP race

Hamilton making charge in AL MVP race

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington was asked Saturday afternoon if outfielder Josh Hamilton was the best all-around player in the game right now.

"I would say so," Washington said. "I don't know too many players who can do what he does."

Calling anybody the best player in the game is audacious. Miguel Cabrera is having a great season for the Tigers, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols have not retired, Joey Votto is having a big year for the Reds and any team would kill for an all-around catcher as good as Joe Mauer.

But Hamilton's performance in Friday night's 10-9 victory over the Red Sox was certainly a tour de force. Maybe it doesn't make him the best player in the game, but it certainly does advance his candidacy for American League Most Valuable Player.

Hamilton was 4-for-5 with a home run, four runs scored and a stolen base. He scored one run by dashing home from third on David Murphy's shallow sacrifice fly and another in the eighth inning by racing in from second base on an infield single by Vladimir Guerrero. His leaping catch against the center-field wall on Jed Lowrie's long drive in the sixth inning was No. 1 on ESPN's Plays of the Day.

"You just happened to see a five-tool guy last night," Washington said. "He showed everything -- speed, power, ability to hit, ability to throw, the ability to throw some defense out there."

Hamilton was the reason why the Rangers were able to overcome the Red Sox's 8-2 lead and end up winning in the 11th inning on Nelson Cruz's home run.

"I just think I was where I was supposed to be," Hamilton said. "Backing up plays, getting jumps on balls, all the things you practice on a consistent basis. But none of it shows up unless you get the opportunity."

Hamilton appears to be running neck-and-neck for the AL MVP award. Hamilton is leading the league with a .362 batting average along with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs. Cabrera is hitting .338 with 26 home runs and a league-leading 94 RBIs. Hamilton leads the league with a .633 slugging percentage and Cabrera is tops with a .427 on-base percentage.

"It's too early," Hamilton said. "Any day it could turn quickly. That's baseball in general. Obviously, it would be a great honor. That would mean a lot less ... or maybe a lot more if we were in the playoffs."

He needs to stay healthy. He was on the disabled list twice last year for injuries sustained crashing into outfield walls. But there he was in the sixth inning crashing into the wall to grab Lowrie's drive. He survived this crash though.

"The worst part is not hitting the wall, it's coming down and hitting the ground," Hamilton said. "I'm a little sore today. ... My wife [Katie] didn't like it. My father-in-law said she turned white and had her head down."