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BEST BETS
BEN REITER
April 04, 2011
MVP: JOSH HAMILTON, RANGERS
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April 04, 2011

Best Bets

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MVP: JOSH HAMILTON, RANGERS

Only his vulnerability to injury might keep Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, from winning the award every year. The Rangers believe they can keep him healthy by playing him in leftfield instead of center and with periodic days off. If he plays 150 games his numbers will be scary.

CY YOUNG: FELIX HERNANDEZ, MARINERS

At 24, Hernandez is a nearly flawless ace—dazzling and durable (an AL-high 249 2/3 innings in '10). "I think I have to improve in the first inning," he says. Though he allowed more runs (15) in the first than any other frame in 2010, his 2.27 overall ERA was the stuff of most pitchers' dreams.

MR. IRREPLACEABLE: KENDRYS MORALES, ANGELS

Morales's irreplaceability wasn't felt last season until a month after the first baseman broke his left leg. From July 1 on, the Angels averaged a piddling 3.7 runs a game. "Not having him in the lineup changes everything," says Torii Hunter. Morales will start on the DL; the Angels hope the stint is brief.

ROOKIE TO WATCH: MICHAEL PINEDA, MARINERS

Pineda, 22, uses his NFL body (6'7", 260 pounds) to generate a fastball that touches 100 mph, and he struck out 154 batters in 139 1/3 minor league innings last season. The Dominican righthander won a spot in the Seattle rotation this spring, giving King Felix a worthy prince.

RISING STAR: BRETT ANDERSON, A'S

"He loves his breaking ball," Trevor Cahill says of his rotation mate, who had a 2.80 ERA and threw more sliders than all but three other AL starters in 2010. An increased emphasis on the less-taxing changeup should make Anderson (19 starts in '10) more durable, and more dangerous.

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