Voting under way for Mane Man of the Month

Voting under way for Mane Man of the Month

Voting under way for Mane Man of the Month
Josh Hamilton of the Rangers, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Jake Peavy of the White Sox are your choices as voting is under way to select the Mane Man of the Month presented by Head & Shoulders honor for the first month of the Major League Baseball season.

The Head & Shoulders Mane Men are being recognized on as the star of each game this season, as you probably have noticed. Now in addition to the selection of the top players every day, you have a say in deciding the first monthly recognition.

The overall program began with Seattle's Dustin Ackley getting the nod for the first game of the Japan Opening Series on March 28. It included White Sox right-hander Philip Humber for his April 21 perfect game and Ryan Braun of the Brewers for his club-record 15 total bases on April 30. It will end with whoever shines brightest in the clincher of the 108th World Series.

Here is a look at your four candidates for March/April:

Hamilton: After the season began without a long-term contract extension from the Rangers, the veteran outfielder did his talking loudly on the field. Splitting his time between center and left, Hamilton was a key behind the two-time American League champions' soaring start, not only blanketing the outfield but also jumping all over first pitches and finishing April with a .395 average, 20 runs scored and an AL-leading nine homers and 25 RBIs. He played in all 22 games before back pain forced him to sit out the last game of April in Toronto.

"Physically he feels good, and his focus level is where it needs to be," Rangers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh said.

Kemp: The Dodgers' center fielder predicted he would be even better in 2012 after contending for the National League Triple Crown last season, and he certainly was on pace in April as the club broke out fast. In fact, he was in Major League Triple Crown position, leading or sharing the lead with a .417 average, 12 homers and 25 RBIs. Only three other players have finished April with at least a .400 batting average, double-digit homers and more than 20 RBIs: Barry Bonds (2004), Larry Walker (1997) and Tony Perez (1970).

"I want to represent this franchise as good as possible. Put us on the map again. I don't even look at records," Kemp said after setting the club record for April homers. "It would be awesome to be known as one of the best hitters. That's what I'm planning on doing."

Ortiz: Big Papi practically carried the Red Sox, showing crucial leadership to help keep afloat what appeared to be a sinking ship. Ortiz homered twice on the last day of April for his 36th multi-homer game with Boston, pulling the club back to .500. He finished the month at an AL-best .405 with six homers, 20 RBIs and 34 hits.

"David's a star of stars right now," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said after the two-homer game against Oakland. "His swing is as good as I think it can get."

Peavy: One of the most pleasant surprises across the Majors so far has been the resurgence of a former Cy Young Award winner. Is Peavy back? He was in April. His three-hit shutout at Oakland on April 23 made him 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA, and then he actually lowered his ERA to 1.67 after allowing just one earned run over nine more innings against Boston -- a tough 1-0 loss in a classic duel with Jon Lester at Fenway Park. Thanks in no small part to Peavy, the White Sox were around the top of the AL Central standings most of the month.

"For us, Jake's been pitching like that all year," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after Peavy pitched back-to-back complete games for the first time in his career. "It's unfair for you to expect that every time he goes out. He just continues to impress and pitch brilliantly."

Look back at daily videos to see the conga line of more than 350 Mane Men so far, including each of the four monthly candidates. Some were surprises. Who knew that Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals would get the nod in the first game ever played at Marlins Park on April 4, or that Bartolo Colon would take honors for his first three starts with Oakland? Some were exactly the recognitions you would expect, of course, such as Roy Halladay of the Phillies for his first three starts. Have a look at the winners, and decide for yourself.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.