The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced finalists for its awards on Wednesday, including American League MVP. Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton or Mike Trout will get the hardware next Thursday on MLB Network. Here's a quick look at each candidate's heat map during the 2012 season. Unlike on election night, there's a lot of red here.
Beltre mashed middle pitches -- his .786 slugging percentage on offerings thrown to the horizontal middle of the plate ranked second among qualified batters (Adam LaRoche was first):
Miggy, meanwhile, was the game's most dangerous hitter when pitchers tried to bust him inside. Cabrera slugged .673 against inside pitchers, slightly edging out Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper:
Cano had two major hot spots: down and in, and high and way. He slugged .614 versus down-and-in pitches (nearly 180 points above the MLB average) and .698 on high-and-away stuff (290 points above the MLB average).
Hamilton's hot spot was, well, everywhere:
He ranked in the top 10 in slugging against inside, middle, and away pitches. Hamilton's prowess against in-zone pitches (he slugged .817 against pitches thrown in the zone, best in the majors and 123 points above runner-up Ryan Braun) explains why pitchers so rarely challenged him. Hamilton saw the lowest percentage on in-zone pitches (35.1%) of any qualified hitter. Prince Fielder ranked a distant second at 40.7%.
Unless pitchers went high-and-inside or painted low and away, Trout made them pay. The 21-year-old was especially deadly against pitches thrown to the horizontal middle of the zone, ranking fourth among hitters with a .758 slugging percentage: