ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton had already put on a tour de force of destruction in the American League Championship Series. So when it came to the final game, the Yankees would no longer pitch to him.As the Rangers clinched the series with a 6-1 victory that punched their ticket to the World Series, Hamilton delivered a single in his first at-bat and was then walked intentionally in his final three plate appearances. But the damage had already been done. And that's why Hamilton was named Most Valuable Player of the ALCS. All he did was hit .350 (7-for-20) with a double and four homers, score six runs, drive in seven and draw eight walks, five of which were intentional. The homers tied an LCS record. The intentional walks set an ALCS record and tied Pedro Guerrero (1985 Dodgers) for the overall LCS record. After everything Hamilton has been through in his career and his life, he wasn't going to be able to sum up the flood of emotions he was feeling. "It's all happening pretty fast," Hamilton said. "You know what -- I'm so excited for this team, for this city. This is something that's never happened here before. So to be part of something like that means the world. It's something that nobody can take away from you. I'm very excited."
When presented with the MVP award, Hamilton wanted to talk only about those around him."I love my teammates. I love them so much," Hamilton said. "Any of these guys could've gotten this award, I'm happy to have it. I don't want to talk about myself, I want to talk about them. Because we are the reason we're here." Selected first overall in the 1999 Draft by Tampa Bay, Hamilton didn't make his big league debut until 2007 with Cincinnati. His life, not just his career, was derailed by substance abuse and it was a long road back to become the player he is today. With 26 outs to go, he had not forgotten his struggle. "I'll be honest with you, in the ninth, A-Rod was up, and I'm tearing up out there, trying to hold it back in case he hits a ball to me," Hamilton said, referring to the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. "It means a lot, everything I've been through and what God's brought me through to this point to this group of guys, I'm so excited, I feel blessed." Perhaps when Hamilton wakes up on Saturday, he will be able to fully comprehend what he and his teammates have accomplished. "It hasn't hit me yet. It just feels like another baseball game but I can smell champagne," Hamilton said. He could also smell ginger ale. As they did when they won the AL Division Series, his teammates doused him with the soft drink instead of champagne out of respect for his sobriety. "It's awesome," said Rangers third baseman Michael Young. "Josh is one of us. He's a teammate, he's our friend and this team is as good as I've ever seen backing each other up. If one of us do well, we all do well." That was displayed perfectly in Game 6. In the game-breaking fifth inning, Yankees manager Joe Girardi ordered a walk to Hamilton with a man on second and two outs. Vladimir Guerrero followed with a two-run double. Later in the inning, Nelson Cruz smoked a two-run homer. Hamilton, the eighth outfielder to be named ALCS MVP, hit .359 with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs during the season. He made his presence felt in this series immediately, clocking a three-run homer against CC Sabathia in the first inning of Game 1. His most impressive night may have been Game 4, when he homered twice -- just one day after his two-run shot in Game 3 gave the Rangers some late breathing room. He drew four walks in Game 2. Hamilton missed 24 games in September because of broken ribs. He returned Oct. 1 and had only 11 at-bats of preparation for the postseason. And he hit .111 (2-for-18) with one RBI -- a run-scoring groundout -- in the ALDS against the Rays. The Rangers kick off their first World Series in 50 years of franchise's existence on Wednesday against either the Phillies or Giants in the National League representative's ballpark, with Game 3 coming on Saturday in Arlington. Hamilton said it was in June when he knew the Rangers were becoming something special. "We were just playing really good baseball," Hamilton said. "I mean, we were doing all of the things good teams do to win. Playing small ball, you know, power, playing defense, pitching well, all of these things, and we saw how it could work, you know, if we did all of those things and how good we could be."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Evan Drellich, a reporter for MLB.com, contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.