5 Reasons Why Mike Trout Should Win the American League MVP
As I wrote a couple hours ago, I believe Miguel Cabrera will be named the 2012 American League MVP. I really don't have a problem with Cabrera winning. He did have a remarkable, record-setting season for the American League champions, and he definitely would deserve the honor of most valuable player. But I have a hard time admitting he was better than the game’s best player in 2012.
While winning the Triple Crown is spectacular, it has been done before. What we saw Mike Trout do on the Los Angeles Angels is something we have never seen before. Trout became the first player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases, and score 125 runs in a single season. If Cabrera can be rewarded based on his home runs, batting average, and RBI numbers, we will create the Trinity of Trout using home runs, stolen bases, and runs scored. So I offer a challenge to every baseball player out there: forget the Triple Crown, I want the Trinity!
Like I said in my Cabrera piece, this debate will thankfully end tomorrow. I’m sick of arguing about it, and I’m sure you are sick and annoyed from reading about it. The funny thing about this is that neither extreme side is right - - just as they aren’t when it comes to politics.
The answer, as in most things, is a combination of both philosophies. I understand why Cabrera is probably going to win and I am okay with that. I know some traditional stats still tell us a lot of things about a player. I like how traditional thoughts tell me Derek Jeter is a good player. I agree Derek Jeter is a good player and it annoys me that the extreme SABR people tell me he isn’t.
Mike Trout is an entirely different specimen, however. It’s like he was created in a lab or chiseled from stone. Traditionally or sabermetrically, he's just that good, folks. And that’s why he should be the American League’s Most Valuable Player.
Better Team Record
This isn't so much a case for Trout, but rather a dismissal for Cabrera. Yes, the Detroit Tigers won the division and went to the World Series, but they only had 88 wins. Trout's Angels had one more win than Cabrera's Tigers, so I don't see how you can punish Trout because he played in baseball's best division.
I'm definitely not one of those people that thinks defensive production equals offensive output, nor am I one who believes in the UZR's accuracy. But I know Mike Trout is a phenomenal centerfielder and Miguel Cabrera is a terrible third baseman. It's safe to assume Trout saved at least 10+ runs due to his defensive wizardry, while Cabrera gave up more than enough to label him a bad defender. You can't just completely ignore defense when it comes down to a player's worth. At the very least, it means something.
The Angels were 82-59 after Mike Trout was called up. Granted, that was also aided by Pujols' rebound, but it's quite obvious Trout had a major impact. Also, you can't use the fact that he didn't play in April to discredit him. He had nothing to do with that decision, so you can't just assume his season would have been worse if he had an extra month to play. Heck, if he did have an extra month, he probably would have scored 140 runs.
I'm not a guy who is a big fan of baserunning, especially if that's the only asset a player has going for them. But when you steal 49 bases in 54 attempts, you have my undivided attention. Essentially, if Mike Trout got on base, he was scoring. That cannot be said about Miguel Cabrera.
He's Just Better
What this all boils down to is: Mike Trout was just better than Miguel Cabrera in 2012. You can't punish Trout because he didn't hit fourth. Why are RBIs better than runs scored? Just because the Triple Crown tells you so? Why must we completely eliminate defense from a player's worth? Is a basketball player's defense completely worthless as well? Why does one home run and a .004 difference in batting average make Miguel Cabrera a lock? What if Josh Hamilton didn't mail it in for two months and hit 45 home runs? Why must Trout get punished because he played in the AL West not Central? I mean, his team had the better record. Offensively, yes, Cabrera is better, but Trout completely destroys Cabrera in every other category.
Even if you are against WAR, the difference between the two, in terms of WAR, is so large it's hard to argue against it. The gap between the two, depending on what version you use, is about three full wins. You know what that difference is? That's the difference between Derek Jeter and Justin Smoak. No matter what happens tomorrow, Mike Trout is my 2012 AL MVP.