Mike Trout: 5 Ways That He Can Win MVP in 2014
Mike Trout: The Best Candidate to Never Win the MVP?
Since Mike Trout became an everyday player for the Los Angeles Angels shortly after the beginning of the 2012 season, there has not been a single player that captivated the minds of MLB fans more. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound center fielder is an absolute physical specimen, with arguably the best outfield range in all of baseball, a bat that can mash balls into outer space and an ability to pickpocket bases at ease once he gets on base. When watching Trout play on an everyday basis, it becomes clear that there is nothing the guy cannot do, and that there is no more obvious example of a five-tool player in MLB today.
This enormous skill level and captivating factor has been backed up by two statistical seasons that would make any Hall of Famer proud. During the 2012 season, Trout appeared in 139 games, putting up a statistical line of .326/.399/.564 with eight triples, 27 doubles, 49 stolen bases, 30 home runs, 83 RBIs, 129 runs scored and a 10.7 WAR. Those that were expecting a sophomore slump were in for a rude awakening, as he played in 157 more games in 2013, putting up a statistical line of .323/.432/.557 with eight triples, 39 doubles, 33 stolen bases, 27 homes runs, 97 RBIs, 109 runs scored and a 9.2 WAR.
While one would expect two consecutive seasons of this magnitude to be honored by at least one AL MVP Award, you would be sadly mistaken when it comes to Trout. In both years, he has lost out to Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who is surely more of a power hitter, but brings little to the table defensively. Sabermetricians have been able to tell identify this missing piece in Cabrera's game through the WAR statistic, as his 6.9 and 7.2 in 2012 and 2013 were impressive, but nowhere near the 10.7 and 9.2 the Angels' center fielder compiled, but for some reason these numbers do not have a huge impact on voters.
During the 2014 season, it again appears that these two players will be competing for the AL MVP Award, and it will be up to Trout to add a piece to his game that stands out to MVP voters. And while this will not be an easy thing to do, there is no doubting that with a skill set like the center fielder possesses that anything is possible.
After having already foreshadowed this problem prior to the 2013 voting results even being released, I have compiled a list of five accomplishments that will surely vault Trout over Cabrera and undoubtedly win him the 2014 MVP Award.
5. Win the All-Star Game MVP
Over Mike Trout's first two appearances in the All-Star game, he has gone 2-for-4 at the plate, but has no runs or RBIs to show for it. Going into the game and having a huge game that impacts the game -- and subsequently home field advantage for the World Series -- would be a good way of upstaging Miguel Cabrera during MLB's biggest in-season stage. While doing this will not win the AL MVP award by itself, there is no doubting that an MVP performance during the mid-season classic will stick in the mind of voters going forward.
4. Get the Angels to the Playoffs
While there is no requirement in the MVP Award that one must be on a playoff-caliber team -- or even a team playing .500 ball or better -- it is clear that Mike Trout has been hurt over the past two seasons by not playing meaningful games down the stretch. In 2012, the Angels were in the hunt until September, but eventually finished five games behind the Oakland A's for the AL West crown. During 2013, things only got worse, as the Angels were not relevant at all, finishing 18 games out of first place. When it is taken into context that Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers won their division by three games and one game in 2012 and 2013, it is easy to see how voters would inclined to go with Cabrera over Trout. The only way to change this view is to make sure the Angels are playing meaningful games in September, and ultimately make the 2014 playoffs.
3. Compile 5 Outfield Assists
While Mike Trout has been known as a physical specimen, and a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, his throwing arm has been a weakness. During the 2012 season, he only compiled three outfield assists, and in 2013 he did not get a single one. When voters go to submit their ballots for the AL MVP they want something to remember, and the onus is on Trout to make this happen by gunning down five or more base runners in 2014. This will both help further the defensive gap between himself and Cabrera, and sure up the only true weakness in the center fielder's game.
2. Complete a 40/40 Season
In MLB history, there have only been four players to ever hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season, making this one of the rarest feats in league history. The four guys that did accomplish this were Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano, and it is almost unanimously believed that the first three used performance-enhancing drugs. There is not anyone who thinks Mike Trout is doing that, but after averaging 28.5 home runs and 41 stolen bases during his first two years in the league, there are many who believe he could join the 40/40 club. Doing so would put him into an exclusive club, and provide a true impact statistic to sway voters into his favor when they submit their AL MVP ballots.
1. Win the Triple Crown
An even more enamored club than the 40/40 club is the group of MLB players who have accomplished the Triple Crown, which encompasses picking up the most home runs, RBIs and the best batting average in one's respective league. There were many people who felt that Miguel Cabrera only won the 2012 AL MVP Award because he accomplished this feat, and there is no doubting that Trout would win the AL MVP award in 2014 if he picks up this accomplishment. While completing the triple crown is by no means an easy feat, one would think that with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton returning to Los Angeles healthy in 2014 that the center fielder will have more protection in the Angels lineup and therefore will see better pitches to hit. If this is the case, there is no reason to believe that Trout won't win the Triple Crown, and subsequently the 2014 AL MVP Award.