When it comes to the 2012 Most Valuable Player award it seems as if many people could care less about who wins it from the National League. Ryan Braun…Buster Posey…Andrew McCutchen…give it to any of them, and no one would really complain.
The main focus falls on the American League portion, where baseball fans have sided with either Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout. Everyone (no matter which player they side with) has a dozen reasons behind why their pick is the best, and they’re all adamant as to who they think should win the award. I’m no different.
My vote for MVP of the American League would have to go to Mike Trout.
Before you ask, no, I haven’t been living under a rock for the past week. I’m fully aware that Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown (the first player to do so since 1967), and while that’s extremely impressive–and nothing to sneeze at–if you take the time to examine both player’s effect on their respective team, you start to see there’s really no contest. You quickly find yourself leaning a bit more towards Mike Trout; or at least that’s the case with me.
When making a pick for Most Valuable Player, I feel it’s extremely important to remember what the award is truly for: The player who had the greatest positive impact on their team, and thus was the “most valuable”. While it’s easy to look at the stats and declare Miguel Cabrera the winner, MVP is not necessarily an award for the better player, but rather an award for the player that held a bigger role in helping their team succeed.
That’s what I feel gets lost in translation. People see the incredible stats that Cabrera was able to post and they find themselves thinking, “with numbers like that, he’s got to win.” While that may be true in some situations, this particular instance, it’s just not the case in my opinion.
As far as statistics go, Trout and Cabrera were under completely different circumstances while at the plate, which makes it a bit difficult to compare the two. For example:
Trout bats leadoff, thus (in at least one at-bat) has no chance at having anyone on base to knock in; yet he accumulated 83 RBI’s. Cabrera on the other hand batted in the three-hole, giving him a higher chance of an RBI situation every time he stepped into the batters box.
Another thing Trout had going against him by batting leadoff was the fact that he had no one behind him in the lineup for protection. In an RBI pressure situation Trout didn’t have a guy like Prince Fielder to fall back on. If Trout didn’t come through, who knew if the next guy could get the job done. (As Prince Fielder does the majority of the time.)
In Cabrera’s case–and Ryan Braun’s, last season–he had Fielder behind him in the order to take some of the pressure off, which could be argued allowed Cabrera to come through more often than he normally would have in big spots. That’s something I personally take into consideration.
Something that really bothers me when it comes to MVP voting is the voter’s tendency to use whether or not a candidate’s team made it to the playoffs when making their decision of who to vote for. You can be an extremely valuable asset to your team and still end up falling short as a whole.
Take last year’s National League MVP voting for example.
Matt Kemp had arguably better stats than Ryan Braun, yet Braun ended up taking home the MVP award, greatly due to the fact that Braun’s Brewers made it to the post season, and Kemp’s Dodgers did not. That’s just not the right thing to base your decision on. It wasn’t right in 2011, it’s not right now, and it won’t be right in 2013 and beyond, either.
Mike Trout posted stats that no rookie has ever been able to in MLB history–the only rookie to ever have a 30/40 season. Trout came in and completely turned the Angels around; and while this is purely speculative, could’ve very well led his team to the playoffs had he of been called up sooner. (But that’s another debate, for another time.)
Trout put up insane numbers for a team that had an embarrassing record of 6-14 (worse than the Houston Astros at the time) before his callup on April 28th. A mere month after Trout’s addition to the roster, the Angels’ had a .500 record, and were on a seven game winning streak; greatly due to Mike Trout and his ability to impact the ball club.
If that doesn’t make for an MVP, I don’t know what does.
Now, if you’re one of those people that love sabermetrics–and purely rely on statistics alone when looking at MVP–then it’s clear that Miguel Cabrera beat out Mike Trout by a landslide. While the batting average was fairly close, Cabrera posted 14 more home runs than Trout, as well as 56 more RBI’s.
But looking at stats–and stats alone–only tells part of the story.
Trout came up in late April and went on a tear, and as a result was able to reenergize a struggling Angels team. He got them back on track enabling them to make an incredible run, which unfortunately ended with the Angels coming up just short of a Wild Card spot.
Without Trout, who knows whether or not the Angels’ would’ve finished with a record anywhere near theirs of 89-73. (A better record, mind you, than that of the Tigers, who finished 88-74 on the year.)
That’s what makes a player worthy of a Most Valuable Player award. It’s not always the best player in a given league, but instead, the player that had the biggest impact on their team, and therefore was most valuable.
And that would undoubtedly be Mike Trout.