5 Reasons Why Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout Doesn’t Deserve 2013 AL MVP
Mike Trout: Not Your 2013 AL MVP
Being the “Most Valuable Player” in baseball has far more grey area than it does any other sport. In the NFL, the MVP tends to be awarded to the most statistically impressive player on a playoff team (it’s been 40 years since O.J. Simpson won the award on a bad Buffalo Bills team). In the NBA, they simply give the award to the best player (Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdual-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and now LeBron James) until they get sick of doing so, and then they look for an excuse to give it to someone else. Baseball, on the other hand, has no real pattern. We’ve had winners who encompass the very definition of value (Joe Mauer and Dustin Pedroia), winners who play for awful teams (Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez), winners who are starting pitchers (Rogers Clemens and Justin Verlander), and winners who close games (Willie Hernandez and Dennis Eckersley). While Mike Trout provided a great run last season, we’ve yet to have an advanced stat to determine who should take home the hardware, and if the voters weren’t ready to jump on board last year, they certainly aren’t going to do so this year.
Trout is an elite player in MLB -- there is simply no denying that. Whether you’re a number cruncher or a baseball purist, the exceptional talent of Trout is something we can all agree on. He’s a top-notch athlete whose youth gives fans hope for the future and whose current skill set is as versatile as it gets. His star has shined the brightest on what we all thought would be a super team in Los Angeles as he literally does everything they could possibly ask for. I was firmly on #TeamTrout during the epic MVP race of 2012, and while I still love what he brings to the table, he simply doesn’t deserve the 2013 AL MVP.
5. Decline in Counting Statistics
Baseball purists love stats like the rest of us, but they tend to hone in on the ones they can see happen. The MVP voters may take a fantasy baseball approach, looking at the counting stats that have been around as long as the game itself. If that’s at least part of the rationale (and let’s face it, it is), then Trout’s 2013 season is less deserving of the MVP award than his 2012 season.
2012: 139 games, 129 runs, 30 homers, 83 RBIs, 49 steals (90.7 percent success)
2013: 149 games, 108 runs, 26 homers, 92 RBIs, 33 steals (82.5 percent success)
Are those numbers great? Of course they are. But in a season where there have been a few great statistical performances, the committee is going to see 2013 as a season of regression (even if it’s minor), thus forcing them to either admit they made a mistake in 2012 or stick to their guns and declare that Trout is once again not deserving of baseball’s most prestigious honor.
4. Losing The WAR
Those in Trout’s camp last year used WAR as a battle cry, telling anybody that would listen that this statistic alone was the true measure of value. Trout supporters, however, may have shot themselves in the foot by pushing a single statistic when backing the stud Angels outfielder.
By putting all of their eggs in the WAR basket, #TeamTrout has made it easy to call 2013 a disappointment. His WAR currently sits at 9.1 (still considerably ahead of 2012 Buster Posey’s NL MVP winning figure of 7.4), representing nearly a 15 percent drop-off. While it is obvious that WAR picked up momentum last year, those who discredit the statistic could now use it as a weapon, saying that Trout was 15 percent less valuable than he was in a season in which he wasn’t deemed most valuable.
3. 162 and Done
While a playoff berth is far from a prerequisite for the MVP award, it can serve as a nice tie breaker. The waters were a bit murky in 2012, as Trout’s Los Angeles Angels (89-73) posted a better record than Cabrera’s Detroit Tigers (88-74), yet failed to qualify for the postseason while Detroit won their division. Things are a little bit more cut and dry this season, as the Angeles never really entered the playoff picture while the Tigers have been in the driver’s seat of the AL Central for the majority of summer.
Again, expectations are going to play a role here because we have human voters and not machines. We thought the Angeles and Tigers would both use their power-packed lineups to give us an October showdown to remember. The disappointing Angels season has more to do with Albert Pujols missing 63 games (and being absent for the most part in the 99 he did play) and Josh Hamilton batting .224 in the first half, but nonetheless, it will reflect poorly on Trout’s MVP candidacy.
2. Hype Machine
Once you’re an elite talent, there is no going back. Entering the 2013 season, Trout faced unfair expectations. We all wondered how much better he could be instead of appreciating the greatness that we witnessed in 2012. It’s not that this season has been a disappointing one, but you haven’t heard as much about Trout because we’ve seen this level of greatness before.
The hype machine drove Trout from great rookie to Hall of Fame lock, helping his 2012 MVP campaign, but is hurting him in a big way this year as his elite performance is exactly what we expected (if not less).
If you don’t believe me that the hype is diminished, ask yourself this question: will the public outcry be the same if Trout fails to win the MVP award this season as it was last year?
1. Miguel Cabrera
You can use all the metrics you want, but at the end of the day, Trout is the two-time reigning AL MVP if not for Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers' plump third baseman may not save the runs on the defensive side, but by winning the Triple Crown in 2012, he had more statistical appeal to the masses. The voters felt that Cabrera “deserved” last year’s MVP, and while he is a long shot to take home another triple crown, his numbers have improved across the board (remember the “expectations” talk we had earlier? He’s somehow surpassing them).
2012: 161 games, 109 runs, 44 homers, 139 RBIs, 0.67 BB/K, .330/.393/.606
2013: 142 games, 101 runs, 44 homers, 135 RBIs, 0.97 BB/K, .346/.442/.647
As for the WAR argument? Cabrera’s 7.1 mark this season is still considerably behind that of Trout, but he has nearly cut the difference in half, giving him credibility in purist and sabermetic circles alike.
It was a close race last year, and while both Trout and Cabrera have put together great encore performances, the award is Cabrera’s to lose and Trout hasn’t improved enough to deserve taking the title of the AL's Most Valuable Player.