As the Major League Baseball season winds down, the debate over who could take home some hardware this year is starting to heat up. In the American League, the race for the Most Valuable Player award looks like it will come down to either Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera.
Obviously, you really couldn’t go wrong with either. You have, quite possibly, the greatest rookie season of all time, with Trout, while Cabrera is threatening to win the first Triple Crown the league has seen in decades. But who is more deserving of the award?
It is truly incredible what Mike Trout has done in just over 120 starts this season. He’s batting .327 on the year, with an on-base percentage near .400. He’s been an offensive star in every way possible, with 27 home runs, 77 RBIs, and he’s scored a run in almost every appearance, with 118 this season. Oh yeah, he has 46 swipes to add to the mix as well.
But as we all know, value for a player goes beyond the batter’s box. A true five-tool player, Trout has been phenomenal with the glove, robbing four big flies this year, as well as making several outstanding catches. Everyone loves WAR, and Mike Trout’s is up over 10, far and away the best in the league.
Miguel Cabrera is a machine. He’s having another torrid run this year, in his pursuit of the league’s first Triple Crown since 1967. His .333 average is tops in the AL, as are his 130 knocked in. With 41 homers, he trails Josh Hamilton by just one for the lead there as well.
Looking purely at the offensive numbers, Cabrera sure looks like an MVP. And if it weren’t for Trout, he might finally run away with an MVP Award and earn him the credit he hasn’t received as much as he probably should have. But advanced metrics, particularly when fielding and baserunning are taken into account, could hand the award to Trout.
Trout’s WAR is well above Cabrera’s, as well as everyone else. While Cabrera may have the edge in wRC (essentially runs created), wRC+, which takes the park into consideration, belongs to Trout. Looking directly at fielding, Trout’s UZR is up at +13. That’s a Gold Glover right there. Cabrera is pretty deep into the negative.
It’s not a wide gap, outside of UZR, but it works in Trout’s favor nonetheless.
This is really a debate that has no wrong answer. Both Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera are extremely worthy candidates. But Mike Trout has the edge for me, simply because of how far his game goes beyond his bat. He sparked this Los Angeles Angels team after a poor start. It’s not a runaway, by any means, but the edge goes to Trout.